Okay, here I go trying to get back into the swing of things. I havn't done a preview in so long, I had to manually count to see what week I was on. Fortunately, I had enough fingers and I didn't need to take my shoes off.

Anyway, the Phantoms (25-18-1-4) are still in playoff position. And things are looking more positive as far as how the team looks on the ice. After getting 3 of 4 points at home against a mortal looking Muskegon squad, we look to continue the home success this weekend against Green Bay (15-24-6-3). 

The Gamblers aren't likely to make the playoffs. With 14 games left, they are 6 games out of what will likely be the last playoff spot in the East. As a result, they have dealt off a lot of their players for whom they could get a decent return. 

Their remaining leading scorer is Jesse Tucker, a '00 born forward with 11g and 22a on the season. Gleb Murtazin is next in line, a Russian '00 who might return next season, with 12g and 13a.

Right behind him is the only name I recognize without looking at a lot of notes, Ryan O'Reilly. O'Reilly played with Madison last season and was picked up by Fargo for this season, and then was traded to Green Bay in a 4 player deal near the trade deadline. He has 13g and 10a on the season and will probably be at the University of Denver next season.

The blueline pretty much mirrors their forwards, there isn't a lot left. Tyler Spott (5g, 18a) and Chris Giroday (8g, 6a) are both on the NHL Scouting reports, though pretty far down the list. Spott is a pretty decent offensive defenseman while Giroday is a more defensive minded player. The latter is one of only two dmen on the team with a +/- rating above 0 (+2.)

The other defenseman in that list is Xan Gurney, who came over from Fargo with O'Reilly. Gurney is someone who should be very familiar to Phantoms fans. He started out with Chicago at the end of the 16-17 season, where he played a few playoff games that saw the Phantoms eliminated in the first round. The next season he hoisted the Clark Cup on our ice with Fargo. This season we're lucky we'll be seeing the last of him for the season this week, and the '00 is scheduled to head to Western Michigan University next season.

Okay, you may have noticed I haven't had a weekly preview and may have missed a recap. Once again, the grind of the hockey season seems to overlap the grind of my day job. Normally, I can find some time to do the research and writing while in down time at work, but we have a major project going on the next few weeks and I don't have enough time during the day. And to make matters more complicated, I am in the process of moving, so things are a little crazy when I get home. I guess it is also frowned upon to write articles while driving.

So this week and probably next week, you won't see much published on the website. After that things are still up in the air, but I'm not foreseeing the situation lasting as long as last season. Anything important or interesting I'll post on Facebook and Twitter. If anyone has any questions or something to share, those are the places to get in touch with me. Also, I'm in section 222, Row A at every home game. For those who don't know me look for a skinny white male, roughly 6'0" with glasses, and usually taking pictures or video with a cell phone.

Also, I've been asked by a few people and have seen some comments about the lack of updates by the team. This is especially the case during road games where there are no social media updates and no recaps after the game.

I am not affiliated with the team in any way, so I have no real insight to share. I've tried to do my best to live Tweet the road games but this weekend I can't guarantee much. Hopefully I'll have internet up at my new place on Friday (we're rooting for Team Spectrum for that).

Another good example is there was no news of defenseman Aiden Gallacher coming off injured reserve and returning to the lineup last weekend. The league's transactions page and the USHL Hockey Ops Twitter feed were the only places that was made public and they were a day late, Gallacher played and was suspended before they even posted it.

For the first time all season, the Phantoms (14-12-0-3) start the week above .500. We're in 6th place in the Eastern Conference, but the race is so close we're literally a win away from sole possession of third place, and two wins away from a tie for second place. That's the good news. The bad news is if we're going to move up, we're going to have to beat the top two teams in the East to do so.

This weekend, the Phantoms start out Friday against the Chicago Steel (17-12-1-0), and then play the Muskegon Lumberjacks (24-6-1-0) on Saturday. Since these are two teams we've played a few times and I'm short on time this week, I'm going to skip a lot of my traditional stats. You can see the older previews for that. This week I'll focus on some new developments.

First up is the Steel. Netminder Justin Robbins has not dressed the past 3 games. Reilly Herbst has carried the load, and they've had a high school goalie on the bench as an emergency backup. I've made my opinion on the Robbins' brothers known before. Adam, the younger forward, seems to have the skills for this league, while Justin might be better suited for the BCHL. I assume Justin is injured, but I have not heard anything officially.

Herbst isn't the best netminder in the league, but he was good enough to get a pair of wins over the Phantoms a few weeks ago. His 2.64GAA and .892SV% is serviceable for this season in the USHL. Since Robbins has been out, he's stopped 27 of 28 in a loss to Muskegon, 22 of 23 in a win over Madison and then gave up 5 of 25 in a loss to Central Illinois. That's a 2.37 GAA and a .908SV%.

Also, back in action will be Robert Mastrosimone, who was not in the lineup when the Steel played in Youngstown, as he was at the WJAC. Mastrosimone is an '01 born forward who was tendered by the Steel last season and played all 60 games scoring 16g and 29a in his rookie season. This season he has 12g, 10a. He's a smaller forward (5'10" 158lbs) but has great skating ability, hands, vision, and is not afraid to throw his speed into a check to make up for lack of size. He also was the East's MVP in the USHL Top Prospects Game this week, where he scored a goal.