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Critical road stretch begins for Phantoms

2012-02-09T23:58:00Z Critical road stretch begins for PhantomsBy Tim McManus -- tmcmanus@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
February 09, 2012 11:58 pm  • 

GLENS FALLS -- When the Adirondack Phantoms take the ice Friday night at Scope Arena in Norfolk, it will have been almost two months since they last won a road game. If the Phantoms have any aspirations of getting back in the playoff race, that streak must end.

The Phantoms' weekend back-to-back in Norfolk kicks off perhaps their most difficult portion of the season.

Seven of their next eight games and nine of their next 11 are away from the Civic Center. Of those nine road games, five are against current playoff teams. Another is against Binghamton, who the Phantoms are winless against in six tries the season, and another is in Albany, where the Phantoms have lost six straight.

The Phantoms' last road win came Dec. 17 in Syracuse. Their road record of 7-13-1 is the worst in the AHL.

"I try not to dwell on past things. I look ahead," coach Joe Paterson said. "These are things that we control: We're going to Norfolk. We have two games, we've got to win the first game. You win the first game, you go after the second game."

The Phantoms have lost seven of nine to fall into last place in the Northeast Division, a season-high five points out of the final playoff spot. Since the tailspin began on Jan. 16, they've averaged two goals a game.

With that in mind, Paterson knows his team can't be getting into any high-scoring games on the road, especially against Norfolk. The Admirals are second in the AHL in scoring per game.

"Right now we're not scoring as much and we have to try to win games 1-0, 2-1. We have to be really conservative, maybe, and play a lot tighter," Paterson said. "If we could get one more goal off the power play, one more (from a defenseman) or off a faceoff play. ... If we can create that extra offense flair from any of those three situations, that will help."

The Phantoms' offense received a boost late Wednesday when the Flyers assigned winger Harry Zolnierczyk to the Phantoms. Zolnierczyk last played three games here during the NHL All-Star break. He has six goals and 10 points in 13 games with the Phantoms this season.

That good news was somewhat tempered by the knowledge the Phantoms will likely be without newly acquired forward Matt Ford this weekend. He left the team on Tuesday to attend to a family matter.

Ford may rejoin the team at some point during the trip. The Phantoms head to Toronto next for a game on Tuesday.

Garrett Klotz is also available to play for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury on Dec. 19. The big forward has been limited to 19 games this season because of injuries.

"He gives us some size on the road. We could use that," Paterson said.

Defenseman Matt Walker is questionable for the weekend series. The lower-body injury that kept him out last weekend has gotten better, but he's missed six days of practice and likely needs a few days of skating before rejoining the lineup.

Loose pucks: The Flyers recalled goaltender Jason Bacashihua on Thursday afternoon and he dressed as the backup for their home game against Toronto. Ilya Bryzgalov is out with the flu. Bacashihua may rejoin the Phantoms in time for their games this weekend. In the meantime, the Phantoms recalled goalie Brad Phillips from Trenton ... Forward Andrew Rowe, who missed Saturday's game with an upper-body injury, will be re-evaluated by the Flyers' doctors this week. He's out at least through this weekend. Rowe missed the first two months of the season with a shoulder injury.

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