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Call-ups make a tough weekend even tougher for Phantoms

2011-10-28T01:21:00Z Call-ups make a tough weekend even tougher for PhantomsBy TIM McMANUS -- tmcmanus@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
October 28, 2011 1:21 am  • 

GLENS FALLS -- The Adirondack Phantoms' tough weekend got tougher Thursday when they lost two of their top players to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers recalled defenseman Erik Gustafsson and forward Zac Rinaldo. The Phantoms will be missing those players for Friday's first-place battle with Connecticut and Saturday's meeting with powerful Hershey.

They may be gone much longer.

Flyers' forward Brayden Schenn is out four to six weeks with a broken foot, paving the way for Rinaldo's return to the Flyers, where he played the first five games of the season. Gustafsson is likely to stay at least until Chris Pronger returns from his eye injury, which may be two or more weeks away.

Gustafsson, the quarterback of the power play, had four points in eight games and was plus-3. Rinaldo had a goal and an assist in four games and was a tremendous physical presence.

"If you look at our last four games, (Gustafsson) probably logs the number-one amount of minutes. And Zac has come down here and played very well, not only energized, but a guy who scored some points and played a lot for us," Phantoms coach Joe Paterson said.

With no one immediately on the way to bolster the Phantoms' roster, help will have to come from within.

One such area could be the Mike Testwuide-Ben Holmstrom line. The two players who were central to the team's second-half success last season have gotten off to slow offensive starts.

Testwuide has just an empty-net goal in the opener to his credit through eight games after scoring 16 in his final 32 games last season. Holmstrom has three assists in six games.

"We've been a little inconsistent. I've been pretty inconsistent," Testwuide said. "But I'm skating better, feeling better on the ice."

No one is panicking.

For one, Denis Hamel, the line's third member, leads the team with seven goals and 10 points. But more importantly, the line has functioned well defensively in a shutdown role against other opponent's top units.

"I think we do a good job of that in the defensive zone, but we also want to be in the offensive zone scoring goals," Testwuide said. "We like doing that, too."

It's somewhat symptomatic of a team-wide issue in getting too few pucks to the net. Power forward types like Holmstrom and Testwuide get many of their goals from the area right out front of the net.

If pucks aren't getting to that area - and the Phantoms have been outshot in every game - then they can't get the tap-ins and rebound goals that account for the bulk of their offense.

"I kind of find myself in a situation where I'm in front of the net, if nothing's coming there I'm pretty useless," Teswtuide said. "It kind of takes me out of the game."

Testwuide's not trying to deflect blame for the low shot totals. He knows it's everyone's responsibility.

"You watch Norfolk (Wednesday) night just throwing everything to the net. That's what scores goals," Testwyude said. "I've got to start doing that a little more. I don't think I've been taking the shots I need to."

Paterson praised the play of the line overall, but thinks Testwuide can make more of an impact by going back to the things that gave him success late last season.

"I think in his game, he has to get back to hanging onto the puck a little bit more in the offensive end," Paterson said. "When he uses that big body, he wears people down."

Loose pucks: Forward Garrett Klotz has been cleared to play this weekend. He's been out since suffering an injury in the final preseason game, but has been skating with the team in full faceguard.

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