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Phantoms 3, Norfolk 2: A wait-and-see feeling

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  • Phantoms 3, Norfolk 2: A wait-and-see feeling

    I’d call the mood in the Phantoms locker room after beating Norfolk on Friday cautiously optimistic. *The team played solidly for the most part and reversed many of the mistakes from Wednesday’s debacle.

    But we’ve seen this before. We know the Phantoms have the ability to come out and play with any team in the league on a given night. It’s putting forth that same effort night after night that they struggle with. Consistency has been the biggest problem and the players know that.

    So let’s see what happens Saturday, at least, before making any projections about where this team is headed the last 21 games.

    Notes

    – So, what did you think of those unis? They were modeled after the ones worn by the U.S. in 1980 when they beat the Soviets. I tried to bait Canadian Jason Ward into saying he didn’t like wearing a U.S. *jersey on the weekend of the gold medal game against Canada, but he said what the heck, his son watches the movie Miracle every day.

    – I Tweeted Thursday that Pat Maroon told me the Phantoms were still making the playoffs. That set off a blizzard of angry reader comments. To his credit, Maroon said after the game he’s sticking to his guns despite the criticism. I like his boldness, even with the long odds. I mean, what do you want him to say, “We’re done. I quit?”

    – I’ve called Ryan Dingle a healthy scratch the past couple of games, but actually he’s getting over the stomach bug that’s still lingering around the team. Dingle is down some weight according to Greg Gilbert and that’s why he he held him out. But with the team playing well, I’m not sure if he’ll return Saturday.

    – What did you think of Matt Clackson’s hit on Mark Parrish that resulted in a game misconduct? The contact was definitely knee-to-knee, but I don’t think it was intentional or dirty. Clackson was lining him up and Parrish shifted. Clackson followed through and got the knee. Be interesting to see if that’s worthy of a suspension.

    – Nice to see Johan Backlund be Johan Backlund, eh? I don’t think he was bad the last two games — the team put him in some tough spots — but tonight he was back to his excellent form with 37 saves.

    QUOTES

    Jason Ward

    On learning from Wednesday’s loss:

    “It’s a lot of mental toughness, that’s what the game comes down too. We’re a young team and we have stuff to learn. But we want to learn from our mistakes, not keep making mistakes. At this time of year, we’re in a position now where we have to win so many games instead of 10 games ago when we could in an opportunity to be in a good spot. Now we have to dig a little bit deeper. Sometimes that’s what you have to do. This team did the same thing last year. They proved they can make playoffs even when you’re looking up at the standings. It’s one of those things you have to learn from and hopefully we learned from our mistakes.”

    On consistency:

    “As a young team, what you learn is, to be a professional is to be consistent and sometimes it takes longer to learn. But the earlier you learn it, the more successful you are. And hopefully, we get going in the last 20, 25 games.”

    Johan Backlund

    On his play:

    “I felt better. I wasn’t satisfied with my last two games. It wasn’t good enough for my standards. I wanted to play a better game. We had a good meeting yesterday, (about) how we were supposed to play. I think we played better defense today.”

    On consistency:

    “We’ve been feeling a couple times that we’re on the right track, but that’s our problem, we play two or game and then we lose. We’ve got to come together if we want to be in the playoffs. We know we have to win, I don’t know how many games in a row. But we can’t be like we’ve been so far. We’ve got to find a way to win a couple games in a row.”

    Greg Gilbert

    On fixing the problems from Wednesday’s loss:

    “Our intensity was better for 60 minutes. Still, in the third period, we kind of sat back and we’ve got to learn that we have to get up. We have to play that aggressive style that we played the first two periods. You can’t sit back and absorb opposition’s rushes and attacks. That’s when bad things happen. We addressed a lot of d-zone stuff and entry stuff and back pressure. I thought we did a better job in the second period on really eliminating their odd man situations. We had three, four guys back to their two and three. That’s what we want to be.”

    On consistency:

    “That’s going to be our biggest challenge. Our biggest concern this year, and you can ask the guys in the room, too, is that inconsistency. We bring it one night and then the next night it’s so-so or even less. Tomorrow is going to be a battle just like tonight was.”

    On the power play, which has scored five goals in three games, but allowed several shorthanded rushes Wednesday:

    “It is (pn the right track). We’ve got to be aware of situations and especially time awareness and clock awareness. When you get down near the end of a penalty your backend guys have to realize the penalty is almost over, we’ve got to play it smart. Because if it’s turned over, that’s when most of the breakaways happen. Our puck awareness has to be better, our clock awareness has to be better. But I thought we were moving the puck pretty well and capitalizing on the chances we had.”

    On Matt Clackson’s hit on Mark Parrish and game misconduct:

    “It’s referee judgement. I looked at it again and they did hit knees, no question. But it looked like Matt was just trying to follow through with his hit and Parrish tried to side-step him at the last second and they locked knees. So things like that happen. It’s unfortunate that happens, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

    LINEUP

    Scratches: Injured: Denis Bodrov, Krys Kolanos; Healthy: Ryan Dingle (although he is coming off an illness), Rob Bellamy.

    Lines: Maroon/Matsumoto/Legein; Pyrorala/Ross/Laliberte; Nodl/Kalinski/Ward; Klotz/Beaulieu/Clackson.

    Defensive pairs: Marshall/Curry; Lehtivuori/Bourdon; Stephenson/Sloane.

    – Tim





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