Our beloved Monsters have now reached 38 games played, the halfway point of the season, so it's a good time to take a look at what's been done and what needs to be done before the end of the year.
Lake Erie is coming off a heinous 5-game regulation loss streak that will skew a few of the stats, so I'd like to give that a little context. First of all, there are many injuries to key players and a couple of callups to the Avs which have depleted the roster to the point of relying on CHL/ECHL players to do a lot of the heavy lifting on game day.
During this streak the Monsters have given up 23 goals, 11 on the PP, and scored only 10 themselves, and probably half of those can be attributed to scoring effects. This leads to such ghastly numbers as 4.60 GAA, an .845 Sv% and a laughable 912 PDO. So take in the season to date numbers with this in mind.
Starting with the win-loss record, LEM are 17-18-0-3 for 37 points. Of the 17 wins, 12 are in regulation, 2 in overtime and 3 are from the shootout. There have been 19 home and 19 away games, but 12 of the wins have come at the Q Arena and only 5 on the road.
The Monsters have scored 103 goals, good for 2.71 G/game. 35 of those goals were scored via the power play and 5 shorthanded, leaving 63 at even strength or just 1.66 per game. The 35 PPG were scored on 177 chances, which is about average for team PPs in the AHL, for a 19.8% rate and 7th in the AHL.
On the defensive side, Lake Erie has given up 122 goals, 36 on the PK (and remember 11 of those are in the last 5 games) and 4 shorties against. The PK has nosedived to 81.4% for only 17th in the AHL. Team GAA is 3.06 and Team Sv% is .894.
I'm going to attempt some fancy stats here with what little the AHL keeps track of. In 2315 total minutes of play, LE has taken 1066 shots and surrendered 1112 shots against.
Rough possession (shots only, not Corsi/Fenwick) - 48.9%
Shots/60 - 27.6
Shots against/60 - 28.8
Even Strength Goal Diff per game - (-0.47)
PDO - 988
PP% + PK% - 101.2%
For anyone unfamiliar with these stats or what they indicate, go ahead and ask in the comments and I'll do my best to explain.
- Need to get better in regulation, 12-18 (.400) is not getting it done
- Need to get better on the road, if the Monsters were just a point per game on the road they'd be right in the thick of the playoff race
- Even strength scoring better improve soon. There's not much more you can ask of the PP at almost a goal a game so it's going to have to come 5v5.
- More Discipline. Even though the PK has been great until recently, giving up more than 5 PPs a game is way too many.
- PDO indicates the Monsters are slightly "unlucky", but most of the bad luck is on the Sv% side so the solution lies with getting more offensive chances.
- Shoot more. Seriously, it works.
Top Scorers: Olver 9/19/28, Lerg 12/15/27, Agozzino 9/17/26
Top Rookies: Hish 8/10/18, Smith 4/7/11, Meurs 3/4/7
Top Defensemen: Hunwick 8/11/19, Elliott 6/8/14, Stollery 5/7/12
Top Shooters: Aggz 99, Lerg 85, Elliott 72, Wyman 62, Carey 61
Top PIMs: Maggio 92, Heard 91, Desbiens 80
Games played - Forwards: Aggz, Smitty 38(all)
Games played - Defense: Stollery, Beaupre 30
Games played broken down by experience (skaters only):
Rookies - 24.7%
2nd year - 39.0%
3rd year - 7.2%
Veterans - 27.2%
Almost two-thirds of LEM man-games are from guys with less than 2 years of pro experience, and that's high even for a developmental league. Given where the Avs organization is right now, it's the right way to go, but it does tend to make winning games a bigger challenge than it is for most teams.
Andrew Agozzino - Has played all 114 games since signing with the Monsters in 2012. Leading shooter, 3rd leading scorer, plays all situations and probably leads all forwards in ice time
J.T. Wyman - Excellent PKer, and not a coincidence that the Monsters have let in 10 PPGs and 19 overall in the 4 games since he was injured. Also 8th in scoring and 4th in shots.
Stefan Elliott - Much improved this year, uses speed and skill to get the puck out of the zone very well and is crucial to the offense.
Karl Stollery - The Monsters best shutdown defender while still chipping in with some of the offense he showed last year. Also no coincidence LE's defense struggles when he's out of the lineup.
Joey Hishon - When healthy he's a joy to behold on the ice and makes his linemates better. 5th leading scorer on the team with 8 goals and 18 points in 26 games.
Colin Smith - Along with Aggz, the only Monster to play all 38 games. Started in a limited role on the 4th line and has worked the way up to the top-6 playing well in all situations.
Lake Erie is most successful when they can use their speed and skill to control possession. Given the experience level of most of the team, this will always be somewhat inconsistent, but is frighteningly effective when it works as designed, as we saw against Milwaukee just a few weeks ago. An AHL roster will always be fluid from injuries and callups, but when the Monsters have a chance to ice the same guys for a few games in a row, they get better each time.
The most crucial aspect to the Monsters making the playoffs this year is staying relatively healthy from here on in. Fundamentally, they need more shots at even strength and fewer minor penalties against and they definitely will improve. "The best defense is a good offense" is trite but very true in this case. This defense is at it's best when it can move the puck out of the zone quickly and when the forecheck stops pressure before it can build.
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After all that, we also have a game tomorrow! The Monsters will be back at home against the Rochester Amerks.
From what I've been hearing, there's a chance that Duncan Siemens will make his return to the lineup. Karl Stollery has been sent back down and Jace Coyle released from his PTO, so there's some hope we might see a defense that can, y'know, defend.
Monsters vs Amerks 7:00pm Thursday, radio on WHKW.
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Short and sweet PGT this week. Dead Kennedys "Rawhide"
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Monsters vs Hamilton Saturday night, at Toronto Sunday and at Utica Tuesday
I'll be here tomorrow night updating and whatnot, drop by for a few kicks. Trevor Cheek gets nostalgic here, good stuff.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Does anyone remember Tang orange juice? Wow, did I ever love that stuff.</p>— Trevor Cheek (@trevorcheekAZDK) <a href="https://twitter.com/trevorcheekAZDK/statuses/424728879203233792">January 19, 2014</a></blockquote>
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