Yes, I know, it's been a while...
The Lake Erie Monsters are on a downward spiral that seems to be never ending. In Saskatoon, the Blades saw an amazing winning streak snapped in a surprising way. Colin Smith just might be a steal. Other news and notes and just which prospects might be staying home for the post season?
The Lake Erie Monsters sit in ninth place in the Western Conference of the American Hockey League with 18 games left in their schedule. Making the playoffs is not an impossible task to be sure, but the club's play of late does not reflect a post-season ready run. The Monsters are coming off weekend loses to the Hamilton Bulldogs and Rochester Americans. The team has won just two of their past 10 games.
One of their best players in Michael Sgarbossa, recently served a one game suspension after receiving a match penalty in a game against Milwaukee last week. Defensively, the club has given up 173 goals, second most in the Western Conference and fourth most in the entire league. They are playing without two talented defenders in Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott; though the latter will not be accused of being a defensive stalwart.
The club is tied with eighth place Rochester in points with 61, but both Rochester and 10th place Oklahoma City have four games in hand. There is still time for the club to recover and the improving health of the parent club will only help Lake Erie as the end of the regular season approaches.
In the Western Hockey League, nobody is hotter than the Saskatoon Blades. It was an inauspicious start to the season for the 2013 Memorial Cup hosts, but things have turned around resulting in an impressive string of wins. Heading into a Sunday night matchup with the Moose Jaw Warriors, the Blades were on an 18-game winning streak.
Things started well for Saskatoon as the team had a 4-0 lead heading into the third period. Duncan Siemens even scored his first goal since February 12th. While the points have not been as easy to come by, defensively, Siemens has been extremely solid in his own end. Things however did not go well for the Blades in the final frame against the Warriors. Moose Jaw managed to score four times to tie the game and ended the contest just 45 seconds into the overtime session. Despite the defeat, the Blades have been playing as a club worthy of hosting the Memorial Cup tournament.
In Kamloops, Colin Smith has taken his Team Canada World Junior team snub in stride. Smith is third in league scoring with 40 goals and 60 assists in 67 games. His club currently holds the third seed in the Western Conference of the Western Hockey League and has secured a playoff spot with five games remaining in the regular season.
Things are not so rosy for Avs prospects playing in the Ontario Hockey League. The Plymouth Whalers, backed by Avs prospects Garrett Meurs and Mitchell Heard, have locked up a playoff spot and are playing well having won nine out of 10 games. Meurs has contributed 27 goals and 28 assists on the season. Heard, who is often on the same line as Meurs since returning to the team, has 28 points in 27 games.
Yet, Joseph Blandisi and the Ottawa 67's are pulling up the rear of the Eastern Conference with a paltry 15-42-0-5 record. Blandisi has put up a point per game with the 67's since his trade from Owen Sound, but sadly his season will be ending fairly soon.
Michael Clarke who was traded from the Windsor Spitfires to the Peterborough Petes hasn't been much of an offensive threat since joining the Petes. He has contributed nine points in 23 games. His club still has a shot at the final Eastern Conference playoff spot; trailing eighth place Mississauga by four points with five games remaining.
In the next edition, a peak at the PairWise as college hockey wraps up its regular season. An update on the Lake Erie Monsters who face Peoria (twice) and Grand Rapids this week. Also, another look-in on the playoff races in the Canadian Hockey League. Rest assured, there will not be nearly as long of a hiatus between editions. Until next time!