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The final pro hockey game at the Spectrum has been played.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Phantoms at Lowell, First Period

Wow. I'm looking at my computer screen at an astonishingly empty arena. The lower bowl can't possibly have more than a few hundred people seated in it. Problem One is that the game is taking place on a weeknight -- those games are a harder sell than weekend games, no matter where in the AHL you're discussing. However, even knowing that we've got a Wednesday game going, I'm rather surprised at the number of unoccupied seats.

There's no score with 13:07 remaining in the period. Even the Devils announcers are making a point of complimenting the Phantoms' shot blocking. I can't say I'm surprised, because we really do make a point of preventing pucks from reaching the net. This goes double for Guenin, who's limped off the ice a few times during this young season after interposing himself between a shot and the net. Fortunately, he's always come back.

We have a nice little offensive press going now. We've had a few shots on goal, but even more significant to me is the fact that we were highly effective at preventing Lowell from taking or clearing the puck. With 11 minutes and change remaining in the period, we are going on the PP and we are outshooting Lowell 7-0.

Oh, boy, welcome to our first shot-against: a SH near-breakaway where the Devil had a perfectly clear opportunity to put the puck on net. Aubin, fortunately, was up to the challenge. Yikes, let's have no more of those, shall we? Otherwise, we did generate some chances on the PP, but nothing major. Lowell seems to be getting their act together -- they're getting in position to intercept passes and clear out the puck.

Our own first PK came shortly after we returned to even strength. Lowell got into an offensive mode and we wound up taking a penalty while defending the net.

We're waiting to face off, actually, because there's some repair work being done to Aubin's crease. They already worked on that portion of the ice once already, but apparently, it's still not right.

Oh, for Pete's Flipping Sakes, we're on a TWO-man penalty kill now, because the puck deflected off a Phantom and over the glass. Geesh, what a stupid flipping rule.

Ross takes the puck away as soon as we go down two men, and rushes it into Lowell's end to kill some time.

Eek, now not only did a Devil get banged up during our 5-on-3, we're getting ANOTHER blankety-blank penalty. Downie and Bartulis are in the box already, and now Guenin is getting called for slashing. This minor won't even start moving until we get one of our other guys back.

BTW, we have Terry Koharski as the ref. His games always seem to be a penalty-fest, or at least the Phantoms games he calls tend to have lengthy box scores.

Downie gets out of the box and hightails it down the ice with the puck -- DiSalvatore of Lowell made a fantastic defensive play, sticking right with him and not allowing him to get a full breakaway or a shot off. Whoever from Lowell turned the puck over to us owes DiSalvatore a dinner for saving his backside, because Downie has scored or assisted on exactly that sort of play multiple times in his short AHL career.

Yet again, Aubin gets up quickly after going into a butterfly. I'm pleased, particularly since the Devils still had the puck and were still trying to create offense. That's the kind of situation during which we were giving up goals during that early-season losing streak. This time, the puck remained outside our net.

Now it's the Devils who are about to kill a penalty. We really need to cash this in ASAP, because Lowell is interspersing shifts of looking lost with shifts of looking pretty solid. We need to take advantage of those shifts where the Devils are disorganized. We looked good on the early part of the PP, but unfortunately we didn't look good enough to see a puck go into Lowell's net.

Oh, good GRIEF, the final minute of this period is hair-raising. We're at even strength again, and the Devils are BUZZING. Aubin looked good in keeping the game at 0-0. I don't like to see us suddenly get running around in our own end, particularly not after we spent a lot of the early part of the period on the attack.

We were saved by the bell this time around. Time for us to regroup during the first intermission and come back out the way we started the first period, rather than the way we ended it.

Shots on goal at the end of the first period: Phantoms 10, Lowell 10.

P.S. It came out during the intermission interview that Bellamy is injured. I'm not sure what the injury is. Beaulieu is also still hurt with a training-camp injury.

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