Before moving on to today's game, I wanted to get to something that didn't make today's print and on-line gamer: defenseman Mark Flood is lost for the season.
Flood was hurt on a crushing hit from Binghamton's Jeremy Yablonski in last week's win over the Senators. It didn't look good as trainer Brian Maddox cradled Flood's right arm as they went the length of the ice and into the dressing room.
Coach Tom Rowe said Flood, who remains with the team, will have surgery in a couple of weeks on his shoulder. The timing is poor for both the Rats and Flood, who began the year as a healthy scratch and had played himself into a prominent role in all situations.
In 23 games in 2008, Flood had five goals, five assists and was a plus-11. Overall, he led Albany defensemen with 21 points (10-11) and was to Casey Borer with a plus-8 rating.
"He was definitely a consistent performer for us and one of our most improved guys," assistant coach and former Rats captain and defenseman Geordie Kinnear said. "Night in and night out, you knew what you were going to get. He was having a great year. It's too bad it ended now. He made big-time headway and learned how to play the game. He had become a very effective player for us.
"I loved the way he was playing. He had moved from being in and out of the lineup to probably our top four. It shows you how much he improved. He was getting penalty kill time where he didn't before. He was getting better and better every day, and that's what excited me about him the most. We'll definitely miss him."
Albany goes after its seventh straight win today, facing East Division leader Philadelphia, which leads the second-place Rats by nine points. The Phantoms have won four of the six meetings this season by margins of three, one, two and two goals. They have lost two of the three games here in Albany, including 3-2 in OT Feb. 16.
New Rats Marc Cavosie and Kiel McLeod both played for Philadelphia in 2005-06. The only Phantoms still around from that team are goalies Martin Houle and Scott Munroe, right wing Stefan Ruzicka, and coaches Craig Berube and "Big" Kjell Samuelsson.
Line combinations from warmups,left to right, were: Cavosie-Jamie Johnson (C)-Jeff Hamilton; Jakub Petruzalek-McLeod-Jerome Samson; Joe Jensen-Mike Angelidis-Pat Dwyer (A); and Trevor Gillies-Chris Blight-Joel Rechlicz. Rechlicz is a healthy scratch.
Defense pairings were: Joey Mormina (A)-Brett Carson; Casey Borer-Steve Ward; and Noah Babin-Chris Murray. With the Rats wearing their special sweaters for the postgame auction, Murray is wearing No. 23 instead of 6.
Flood, Brandon Nolan, Bobby Hughes, Nicolas Blanchard and Bryan Rodney, all hurt, remain out, though Rowe said any or all of Nolan, Blanchard and Rodney could be back by next weekend.
Goalie Mike Leighton gets the start against Philly's Scott Munroe. Hamilton (0-4-4) and Johnson (2-3-5) each have points in three straight games.