The Phantoms are in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season. That's frustrating enough on its own. But put that aside for a second, and there are some other things going on in the Northeast Division that make it even tougher to swallow.
You can call this the division no one wants to win.
Connecticut lost its 10th game in a row on Friday and STILL is tied for first place. Bridgeport needed to win nine of its last 10 just to get into that tie. Had the Phantoms, who are 4-6 over their last 10, played even somewhat better this month, they could have put themselves in a great spot for the playoff race. Instead, they trail not only the division race, but have fallen to 12th in the conference.
The Phantoms held a nearly 30 minute closed-door meeting after this one. I don't think anyone saw the fire they wanted to see after the lead faded in the second, with a few exceptions. Again, it fell to Ben Holmstrom and Brandon Manning to try and spark the team with fights.
Phantoms and Albany (blew a 2-0 lead to Binghamton) both coming off tough losses heading into Saturday's game. Both teams should be out to make a statement early.
Lines: Zolnierczyk/Holmstrom/Testwuide; Hamel/Roe/Wellwood; Sestito/Kalinski/Akeson; McGinn/Brown/Harper.
Defensive pairs: Jancevski/Kessel; Manning/Marshall; Bartulis/Lauridsen.
Scratches: Walker (injured -- Paterson said he's a little banged up and questionable for Saturday), Klotz (lower-body).
*Note because of the long meeting and my deadline, I wasn't able to talk to any players. Will get their reaction Saturday.
On the meeting he initiated after the game:
"We had a good talk in the room afterwards. We had a talk and we cleared some things up that were in the air with the team. Like a family does. You have a good talk and we talked some things over. There was some good things said. They're going to be ready to play tomorrow."
On the penalty kill struggles (teams are 7 for 15 against them during losing streak):
"I think a lot of things go hand in hand when you're not playing properly, in terms of your systems or you're not relying on the other guy. There's some breakdowns. Guys try to do much instead of just doing their job. Especially when you get behind. I've seen it with this team. With a 2-1 game, instead of just sticking with their game plan and maybe we'll get that scoring chance, or that goal, we have a tendency lately to overdo things, to try to do too much."
On letdown after first period:
"I thought we came out and we played pretty well in the first period and we didn't get anything for it. We took some penalties -- I disagree with the one penalty where Mike Testwuide went into the goaltender. But that happens in the game and you have to play on."
"We opened the floodgates -- not on purpose -- and they're getting two-on-ones, they're getting these wide-open chances later in the game and it came and cost us. We know we can play better as a team."