The beloved Monsters [15-13-3] take on Nashvegas affiliate Milwaukee [16-8-6] this weekend at the Q Arena. The Admirals find themselves 5th in the Western Conference and goalie Scott Darling was just named AHL player of the month for December, where he posted a 6-1-0 record with a 1.12 GAA, a .964 save percentage and two shutouts. Sounds like a toughie.
Lake Erie returns home after playing the first AHL game of 2014 on Wednesday afternoon against the Utica Comets. The Monsters were wildly inconsistent, at times looking competent and at others looking like a house league team, and ended up with a 3-2 loss in regulation.
Stefan Elliott joined the ranks of LEM's wounded after playing about a period in the previous game against Chicago. Diagnosis is an LBI, and given his history of knee issues going back to last season, it's starting to become very concerning.
As I remarked in the Comets game recap, Elliott being out of the lineup hurts the Monsters in two significant ways. First, without his puck moving skills the Monsters always seem to struggle getting to the offensive zone and possessing the puck once there, especially on the PP. Second, as with any team missing a top defender, the mixup of pairings has a big effect on the team's play in general. The 3rd pair becomes very weak and Hunwick's role increases, exposing his weaknesses on defense and with puck control.
Vincent Arseneau was opted back to the Denver Cutthroats on Thursday after spending December with the Monsters. He played some good hockey while up, but got a little wild with his stick in his last game and was a healthy scratch for the last few.
I infer from this transaction that one of the injured forwards is now ready to play, but who? I'd like to think my sources are good enough that if Mike Sgarbossa was finally ready to go I'd hear about it, but you never know. Gil Desbiens said that he hoped to return after the Christmas break from his broken ankle, that's a possibility. Never heard anything about the extent of David Van der Gulik or Gabe Desjardins' injuries, so they might be ready. We'll find out Friday night.
Found an interesting video clip courtesy of Uncle Bob, it follows a ref with a helmet cam through a Rockford IceHogs/Charlotte Checkers game. Very well put together and gives some good insight into how officials keep the game on track, and also why they might miss calls we find obvious. Ten minute clip, but it's worth it.
Monsters vs Milwaukee Friday 7:30pm, radio on WHKW
Monsters vs Milwaukee Saturday 7:00pm, radio on WKNR
AHL Standings - Monsters hold steady at 3rd in the North and 8th in the WC
Preview from the LEM Crew
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I'm in an old school punk mood today so let's have a couple classics for Pre-game tunes this week, shall we?
Friday - "Bloodstains" Agent Orange
Saturday - "Let's Have a War!" Fear
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The Monsters embark on a 5-game road trip to the midwest starting next Friday with 2 games against Rockford, then a third in 3 game at Milwaukee.
I'll be updating the games here and on twitter and neither game conflicts with the Avs for a change, so stop by and set a spell. Have a good weekend and to all my fellow East Coasters, stay safe out there!