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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Scouting Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Phantoms come to the Allstate Arena with the top spot rotating. The story so far, Ken Hitchcock, the Philadelphia Flyers head coach was fired on Sunday. Elevated to his position was John Stevens, his assistant. Stevens had been the Philadelphia Phantoms head coach till this year. When he left the Phantoms, he elevated Craig Berube to be Phantoms head coach. But now, as head coach of the Flyers, he called on Berube, again, to be his assistant.

Kjell Samuelsson, the assistant coach of the Phantoms for six years, was promoted to the job of head coach when Craig Berube was elevated. Berube had occupied the post only since the start of the season.

In addition to turmoil at the top, the Phantoms ended last season with a losing record. Although the Phantoms had won the 2004 Calder Cup Championship against the Chicago Wolves, most of their key players, such as Antero Niittymaki and Jeff Carter, were now playing in the NHL.

Obviously, the Phantoms are close to the Flyers, which is underscored too by their use of the Wachovia Spectrum, the old Flyers home, which is across the street from the Flyers new home.

Meeting the Chicago Wolves for an early season inter-division game, the Phantoms are on a four game road trip. They dropped two games in Norfolk, Virginia against the Chicago Blackhawk affiliates, the Admirals over the weekend. From Chicago they finish the trip in Grand Rapids this weekend before a Sunday game in Philadelphia.

The bottom line is that the Wolves have a good chance to take one at home against a team that is changing the color of the corner office and was already struggling with the results of the last season.

Samuelsson coaches a team that is 3-2-1-0 for the year. Veteran Marty Murray with eight points and former Blackhawk Mark Cullen with six points are leading the team offensively. Second-year goalie Martin Houle holds the pipes with the assistance of rookie Rejean Beauchemin.

The Wolves enter the contest with an 0-3 record at home. Goalie Fred Braithwaite was off with a suspected hand injury and Rockford Ice Hogs goalie Frederic Cloutier is on a day-to-day call up. Michael Garnett, who played in Atlanta part of last season and had a nine game win streak in the late AHL season with the Wolves has had a cold hand in the net so far this year.

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