The beloved Monsters finally bucked the trend of falling apart against inferior teams last weekend, taking 2 wins against the Charlotte Checkers on the road. This coming week is huge with 2 games against Milwaukee and another vs the Marlies, both teams right above them in the Western Conference standings.
- After signing an Entry-Level Contract with the Avalanche last week, defenseman prospect Mason Geertsen signed an Amateur Try-Out contract with Lake Erie on Friday. He didn't appear in either weekend game but I expect to see him after he gets some practice time under his belt.
- Andrew Agozzino has been on ridiculous tear lately. He's on a franchise record 11-game point streak with 19 points in that time. He had a hat trick with an assist thrown in vs Charlotte on Sunday, which also gave him his 20th goal and 50th point of the season. He's been the franchise all-time leading scorer for a few weeks, but is now the all-time goal scorer (59) and is tied for assist leader (92). He's also tied with Patrick Bordeleau for 2nd all-time in games played with 215 and will be #1 in 6 games passing Justin Mercier.
We can debate whether he'll ever do anything at the NHL level, I honestly think he could given the chance, but there's no doubt he's a fantastic AHL player and leader and an obvious choice to become captain of the Monsters next season. Even with NHL contracts at a premium in the Avs organization, he deserves one. He done all that's been asked of him and much beyond that.
- The Monsters dressed 10 forwards and 8 defensemen Sunday, which I recall seeing once or maybe twice due to injuries but is far from optimum. Mitch Heard was a late scratch for reasons unknown, he played the whole game on Friday so I don't think he's injured and the Charlotte announcers were under the impression that Tomas Vincour was supposed to sit (s/t - tigervixxxen). The thought at the time was a callup for a possible injury to Dennis Everberg and what I believe happened was that Mitch was held out in case the Avs needed an emergency replacement but it ended up not being necessary.
The 10F/8D didn't end up being a factor thanks to the blowout 5-1 win, but I'd rather not see that configuration again. SIGN SOME ATOs BILLER! We have 12 forwards total, maybe 11 if Mags is hurt, and the Avs don't have any healthy subs either. Chances are the Monsters are going to need more than that sometime in the next 10 games.
- AHL.com had a strong article about how the Texas Stars have used Amateur Try-Out contracts to strengthen their team late in the season and into the next. The Monsters have done this plenty in the past but other than Mason Geertsen we haven't seen any action this year.
The cutoff point for the WC keeps creeping lower, now right at 84 points but that might rise of course in the next 3 weeks. There are 5 teams (CHI, HAM, MKE, TOR, LEM) within 5 points of each other competing for the final 2 spots. LEM are now at 70 points and to make the Calder Cup competition this year the Monsters must go:
4 losses pretty much ends it, so don't lose a lot.
Recap - Charlotte
As we’ve often seen over the course of the season, the Monsters opponent came out strong for the first 10 minutes of the game and dominated play. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is part of the personality of the team, they react to strategy rather than dictating it. It’s a flaw, but it comes from having few steady veterans and relying on inconsistent younger players as the core. I’d actually rather see this than having a solid plan that doesn’t work and then figuring out where to go from there. Regardless, no damage was done early and once LEM took control of the game things went their way.
Stefan Elliott scored 2 power play goals (holy shit!), one late in the first period and the other early in the 3rd. Both were set up by Andrew Agozzino and Ben Street. Michael Schumacher scored the eventual game-winner late in the 3rd and from there the team turdled and barely got away with it. A questionable Checkers goal was overturned very late in the game, thank goodness, which led to what sounded like all 8000 assholes at the game booing loudly at the end. Classless.
All that aside, Pickard had a fantastic game. There were more than a few horrifying turnovers mere feet away from the goal that he manged to keep out of the net. A blind pass late in the game by Mat Clark ended up on Ben Holmstrom’s stick and Pickard had about 5 microseconds to flash his glove out for the point-blank save. Impressive stuff.
Aggz had 2 assists to keep his 10-game point streak alive. That matched a franchise record and brought the total to 15 points in those 10 games.
Sunday's game was just flat out awesome. Aggz had a hat trick and an assist and the Monsters scored 5 goals in the first 28 minutes to shellack the Checkers 5-1. Stefan Elliott scored his 3rd PPG in 2 games and Kenny Ryan capped off a fantastic defensive game with a shortie. All this while only having 10 forwards dressed for the game. I wish the Checkers put up highlights of the game but since they didn't have any it's understandable why they blew it off.
Preview - Milwaukee
The Admirals are in a total funk going 1-6-3 in their last 10 and are now under the playoff cut after being first in the division not long ago. Such is life in the Midwest Division. This will be the 9th and 10th meetings of the season between the teams with LEM going 4-3-1 against the Ads. The Monsters are in 12th, 5 points back of Milwaukee (basically tied with CHI & HAM for 7th) with 2 games in hand. Needless to say, this is a big series.
Lines from Friday night:
Scratched: Meurs, Lauridsen
Injured: Smitty, Noreau
On Sunday, Heard and Maggio were scratched and Meurs went in. Depending on callups and the possibility of Mason Geertsen making his pro debut we'll see something similar to the above lineup.
Tuesday night vs Milwaukee 7:00pm in the ET, radio on WKNR
Wednesday night vs Milwaukee 7:00pm in the ET, radio on WKNR
Friday night against the Marlies at the Q
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No Avs game tonight and tomorrow's LEM contest will be in the books long before they take on the Sharks so stop by and support your Monsters. I'll have updates here and on twitter as usual. Enjoy!