Three weeks ago the beloved Monsters looked to be on the right track after a double-win weekend against Texas. Their record was 4-4-1 and they sat 8th in the conference. Since then we've seen 5 straight losses and only 2 points. Not good. A home and home with Grand Rapids this weekend is pretty close to a must win situation.
- Monday Gabe Beaupre and Sami Aittokallio were recalled from Ft Wayne.
- Tuesday Calvin Pickard was called up to the Avalanche for backup duty while Semyon Varlamov nurses an ailing groin. Peter McNab posited that Varly will be out at least a week so with any luck we'll see Picks back for the Hamilton/Toronto FunFest next weekend.
- Ryan Wilson will have season-ending shoulder surgery so it stands to reason that sooner or later one of the Monsters defensemen will be called to Colorado.
- With Alex Tanguay's jaw being injured last night against Washington, there's also a good chance that one of the Monsters forwards has a flight to Denver in his future.
- Duncan Siemens was unavailable for last weekend's games with a case of LBI, no info on what's up or when he will return. On the bright side, he's the only known injury at this time.
- Jason Brough from ProHockeyTalk has more glowing praise for 3-on-3 in OT. No way the NHL doesn't adopt this for next year.
- Michael Russo has an excellent interview with recently fired coach of the Iowa Wild, Kurt Kleinendorst. Read this article, covers many topics including why he thinks the AHL is the hardest league to coach. Many parallels to Lake Erie, maybe too many.
Speculation: Who gets called up to replace Ryan Wilson & Alex Tanguay?
Wilson is done for the year so this is somewhat of a long-term decision, but the Avs haven't shown any urgency at filling his spot over the past few weeks. They're going to want someone experienced that can also hack sitting in the press box a lot. Noreau, Gervais & Elliott fit those criteria. My take is that Roy doesn't want anything to do with Elliott so cross him off. Noreau has improved a bunch since camp and Gervais is what he is - not good. If they want someone to play, they'll call up Noreau. If they want a emergency warm body then Gervais makes the most sense. If Siemens was healthy this discussion is very different.
As far as a forward, there's no shortage of candidates and whoever it is will definitely dress and play. Street, Vincour, Sgarbossa, Smitty, Carey, Aggz, Hish, Rendulic, etc. I think Vincour still needs conditioning or he might be the call. Street or Aggz would seem to be strong candidates right now.
Whoever makes the trip, it's extremely likely that someone will be on their way to Colorado today or tomorrow. Also worth noting that the Avs don't have a roster spot available, so one of McGinn, Tanguay, Stuart or Varlamov has to go on IR before anyone can be recalled.
Week 6 Recap
Roman Will made his 3rd start of the season Friday night and played much better than we saw in Chicago earlier in the year. A bad pass to Paul Carey in the 1st ended up bouncing off his skates and right to a Flame and right in the back of the net. A power play early in the 2nd became a 5v3 when Kenny Ryan chipped the puck out of the park and ADK capitalized on a pretty play. 36 seconds later, Will let in the only bad goal of the night on the PP which ended up being the game-winner. Encouraging play from the youngster, but he still has the tragic flaw of going down too early and too low sometimes.
On the plus side, Mike Sgarbossa finally tallied his first goal of the year on a 2v1 and a righteous shot from the circles. Tomas Vincour got his first a couple minutes later on a nice give and go with Aggz started by a slick outlet pass from Ben Street. Unfortunately that was it for the scoring. The Monsters created good pressure for the rest of the game, when they weren’t on the PK at least, but couldn’t capitalize and fell 4-2.
After coming out flat in the first period on Saturday, the Monsters responded with a punchy 2nd including a goal from Ben Street and 20 shots on net. Colin Smith scored early in the 3rd but a traditional LEM scramble in front of the net led to the Flames tying the game midway through. A straight 7 minutes of overtime with nary a whistle meant another shootout. In a big improvement, both Sgarbossa & Smith netted their attempts but Adirondack got the best of Pickard 3 times and headed home with the extra point.
After Friday’s loss Coach Dean gave the lines a pretty good shakeup. Troy Bourke earned his way onto the 2nd line with Boss/Smitty, Trevor Cheek was placed back on Joey Hishon’s line, giving Paul Carey a rest and Michael Schumacher and Borna Rendulic were demoted to the 4th line. Rendulic isn’t struggling as much as he keeps making similar mistakes. He battles hard and is good at getting the puck but he’s really turnover-prone right now. I’ve been wondering how long Dean was going to stick with him on the top lines before getting the hook.
Week 7 Preview
This weekend sets up well for the Monsters, a home-and-home with Grand Rapids, who have accounted for half of LEM's wins so far. With Duncan Siemens questionable and Sami Aittokallio & Roman Will the goalie choices it makes things more complicated tho'. Sami got rocked in Ft Wayne to the tune of 5 goals a game, but he does have a win against GRG this year in his only appearance. Roman Will played well against ADK last weekend so hopefully he continues to get more comfortable in the AHL.
The current 5-game slide the Monsters are on is tough to figure out. They're playing weaker competition that they were earlier in the year, they've added skilled forwards Ben Street & Tomas Vincour recently and 3 out of 5 have been at home. The obvious weakness is in shots against, averaging 32 per game and goals against with 3.65 per game. I still want to wait 'til the quarter-season mark 5 games from now to make any major and pointed criticisms but there's a few things that really need to show improvement, and quick. That said, there's plenty of reasons to believe this team will improve over the season unlike in the past.
Monsters vs Grand Rapids Friday night 7:30pm in the ET, radio on 850 WKNR
Monsters at Grand Rapids Saturday night 7:00pm in the ET, radio on WHK 1420
Preview from LEM - unavailable at press time
Doug Plagens weekly blog
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As usual I'll have updates and recaps here and on twitter. Enjoy!