Last season’s Calder Cup playoffs were fairly short for the Phantoms, as they lost to the Hershey Bears in five games. 2018 is a different season though, and we can expect much more from this team than last season. Lehigh Valley has already clinched a playoff spot, and will most likely clinch the division in the next few games. That would set them up to play the 4-seed, which is most likely going to be the Charlotte Checkers. Charlotte can clinch a playoff spot with a Bridgeport regulation loss against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (WB/S) Penguins on April 7th. That would set up the Providence Bruins and WB/S Penguins as the other Atlantic division semifinal teams, but we’ll get to that when the time comes.
As for the high possibility of facing off against Charlotte, the Phantoms are 4-4 this regular season, having played them for the last time on April 3rd and 4th, both of which resulted in losses. Most of the games between the two teams are generally close, with the occasional 3+ goal differential at the end of the game. John Muse played the majority of games against Charlotte this season, but the Phantoms should have their usual tandem of Alex Lyon and Dustin Tokarski available for the playoffs. Most teams usually stick with one goaltender throughout the playoffs, who I presume will be Lyon for Lehigh Valley. Lyon had some successful and some unsuccessful moments against Charlotte this season; he has a record of 2-1 with seven goals against in those games. Dustin Tokarski played in only two games against Charlotte, both of which were losses. In one of those, he was pulled after giving up three goals on just seven shots. As for Charlotte, they will probably go with Alex Nedeljkovic throughout the playoffs. He has had more trouble than success against Lehigh Valley, so the likely decision to start him may work in the Phantoms’ favor.
Now, for offensive ability for the Phantoms. Phil Varone has success against most every team, Charlotte being one of his best, as he racked up one goal and six assists against them this season. Nicolas Aube-Kubel also has six points, two of them being goals. Other notable players with good stat lines against charlotte this season include Greg Carey – three goals and two assists – and Corban Knight – five assists.
Against Charlotte this season, the Phantoms had trouble keeping the puck out of their net; the Checkers’ scorers came to play against Lehigh Valley. If they can prevent that during the first round, and the offense keeps doing what they’re doing, they’ll find themselves in the Atlantic Division finals, matched up against either Providence or WB/S.