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State of the Monsters Address - First Five Games of January

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A new feature where every Tuesday we discuss how each individual player is performing for the Monsters.

Photo Credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

One of my 2019 New Year’s Resolution is to really listen to what kind of coverage the readers are hungry for here at The Cannon. Over the past year, I’ve had a lot of people ask me to give them my thoughts about how different members of the Cleveland Monsters are playing and where I think they could grow. So, after much thought, I decided to put together a weekly “State of the Monsters Address”. In the address, I will cover things such as who had power play/penalty kill time, the team’s record from the past week, and my thoughts on how each player performed during the week. This first address is a bit longer than it will normally be since I am covering the span of five games and not the typical two-three. Also, I’m still feeling out what is and is not pertinent information. With the exception of today’s post, every “State of the Monsters Address” will be posted on Tuesday Mornings.

The start of 2019 has not been kind to the Cleveland Monsters. Since returning from the holiday break the Monsters have posted a less than stellar record of 1-4-0-0. The first two losses came at the hand of the Utica Comets, 6-2 and 5-1. The combination of rudimentary mistakes and inability to play a simple game led to the Monsters dropping those two games to the Comets.

On January 9th, the Monsters traveled to Belleville to take on the Senators. On paper, the Monsters were the better team. However, the Senators were able to get a leg up on the Monsters beating them 3-2.

A thrilling five-round shootout win against the Syracuse Crunch on the 11th put some pep in the Monsters’ step. Unfortunately, the pep only lasted until the second period of January 12th’s game against the Binghamton Devils. The Monsters started the game strong matching the Devil’s level of intensity. Unfortunately, they were unable to work back from a four goal second period and fell to the Devils, 5-4.

Missing from the lineup during the first five game of January was Paul Bittner, Calvin Thurkauf, Matiss Kivlenieks, and Miles Koules. There has been no official word from team as to why Bittner, Thurkauf, Vigneault, and Kivlenieks have not played for an extended period of time. When it comes to the AHL, if a player sits for multiple games, it is likely due to the fact they are injured. Koules, on the other hand, is not injured. He just returned from playing overseas in Finland for HIFK of Liiga.

There were multiple call ups and a few key injuries during the first five games of January. Many players were thrust into roles they don’t typically see. With the exception of the first two games, the Monsters played well. As always, there is room for growth.

Adam Clendening (0g, 4a, 2pim)

Adam Clendening missed the first two games of January due to a suspension. Upon his return, Clendening played like a dream. The way he sets up plays when the Monsters have the man advantage is incredible. Even better, when the most dangerous opponent is on the ice, Clendening smothers them until that person has to get off the ice for a line change.

Between Gallant and Clendening, the Monsters are very well protected on the ice. They both will offer life and limb to keep their teammate out of harm’s way.

Alex Broadhurst (1g, 3a, 0pim)

The first three games of January did not go so well for Alex Broadhurst.

He struggled with receiving faceoff passes and holding on to faceoff wins. This is anarea in which he normally excels. Ultimately, it was hesitation which brought his game down to a subpar level.

After those shaky three games, Broadhurst was off and running. He caused multiple turnovers, created plays out of thin air, and played an all-around great game.

Blake Siebenaler (0g, 0a, 2pim)

January 9th was Blake Siebenaler’s first game back in the lineup for the Monsters. It didn’t go well as Siebenaler continuously missed his man and seemed a bit out of sorts.

However, there is one thing I really like about his game. Siebenaler is the King of the blue-line bomb. He loves to launch shots from there. If they make it through traffic, they likely turn into a goal. If they don’t make it through traffic, an opposing team’s defender is likely in a world of pain.

Brad Thiessen

Goaltender Brad Thiessen has gotten better at moving across the crease. He glides quickly and effortlessly to stop pucks.

One of his best qualities is the way he doesn’t flinch when a point-blank shot or blue line rocket is barreling towards the net. Thiessen accepts his role as protector of the net and places his body in the way.

Brett Gallant (0g, 0a, 7pim)

When Brett Gallant is on the ice, the atmosphere is completely different. The Monsters are more confident and relaxed. I often wonder if this is due to the fact they know Gallant has their back. For instance, Adam Clendening and Kurtis Gabriel got into a slight shoving match on January 12th. Gabriel wanted to fight. Clendening did not want to fight. After seeing his teammate turn down the fight invitation, Gallant skated over to Gabriel and accepted the fight on Clendening’s behalf. A move like this tends to stick with players game after game providing them a sense of comfort when playing notoriously feisty teams.

However, Gallant is more than a protector. He is also a skilled playmaker with swift feet who knows the perfect time to crash the net.

Dan DeSalvo (3g, 0a, 0pim)

Early in January, Dan DeSalvo struggled with shooting accuracy. He was firing the puck a bit higher than the net. Once he got his accuracy under control the man was unstoppable.

The highlight of DeSalvo’s skills is the ability to force a turnover. In fact, one of his goals this month was scored on a breakaway after forcing a turnover at the blue line.

Dillon Simpson (0g, 0a, 0pim)

Dillon Simpson struggled a bit to start January. With the exception of Gabriel Carlsson, Simpson didn’t appear to communicate well with any of his teammates. There were a lot of missed passes and miscommunicated plays while he was on the ice.

The effort to be a great defender is there. Simpson kept trying to steal pucks but just couldn’t get his stick there in time.

One of Simpson’s more admirable qualities has been the willingness to sacrifice his body to stop a goal from happening.

Doyle Somerby (0g, 0a, 0pim)

Due to various injuries and callups, Somerby had a chance to play forward on January 11th and 12th. This is not the first time he’s been thrust into this role. In fact, I think he might welcome the position change every once in a while. It gets him some extra ice time. Plus, Somerby does well as a third/fourth line winger. Applying his defensive knowledge to the winger position has allowed him to create many plays for the next line to carry out.

Gabriel Carlsson (0g, 1a, 0pim)

Gabriel Carlsson was quite hesitant on January 5th against the Utica Comets.

Other than his hesitancy, he’s impressed me. Carlsson plays very well on the penalty kill. Especially, when paired with Simpson.

When on the ice with Gallant, watch out. They will smash you up against the boards in a heartbeat.

Jean-Francois Berube

Jean-Francois Berube has come leaps and bounds since the beginning of the season. Closing his five-hole is no longer Berube’s greatest weakness.

Justin Scott (1g, 2a, 4pim)

Justin Scott pays close attention to his surroundings which allows him to be in the right place at the right time. One of Scott’s greater qualities is how he constantly attacks the net in hopes of scoring or picking up a rebound.

Justin Wade (0g, 0a, 0pim)

Justin Wade played on the 6th and was returned to the ECHL’s Florida Everblades the next day.

He seemed slow minded and not fast on his feet. Wade was too quick to grab rebounds which caused him to leave holes wide open. This is unfortunate as the Monsters are always looking for defensemen to step up and take the reins.

Kevin Stenlund (0g, 1a, 0pim)

Kevin Stenlund is great in foot races and along the boards. He will do anything possible to get the puck off the wall and to his teammate.

Kole Sherwood (0g, 1a, 10pim)

Despite his lack of points, Kole Sherwood has been playing quite well. He lays hard hits, opens up lanes, and sets up crucial plays. One thing Sherwood could work on right now is his shot accuracy.

He missed two games (01-09, 01-11) due to being suspended for a hit he made during the Monsters 5-1 loss against the Utica Comets on January 6th, 2019.

Mark Letestu (0g, 2a, 2 pim)

Mark Letestu is aggressive when needed. He has great hustle which allows him to capitalize on turnovers.

Lately, Letestu has been firing wide of the net from the right side..

Maxime Fortier (1g, 1a, 0pim)

Maxime Fortier entered the lineup on the 9th against the Senators. He played a very quiet game, but you could tell Fortier was trying to soak everything in.

By his second game on the 11th, Fortier was amped up and incredibly driven. This powered him to score a goal to help the Monsters beat the Crunch.

Despite being young, Fortier knows how to take off with the puck and clear the puck properly for a line change like a pro.

Michael Prapavessis (0g, 1a, 0pim)

On January 9th, Prapavessis really heated things up in the second period. He opened up lanes in such a way that allowed beautiful plays to come to fruition. He also knew the right time to rush the net.

Nathan Gerbe (2g, 0a, 2pim)

Nathan Gerbe is always aggressive. It doesn’t matter if the opponent is 5’7” or 6’8”, Gerbe will find ways to get under their skin.

He reminds me a bit of former Monsters, Carter Camper, in the fact that he wants to pass and set up plays for his teammates.

Lately, he has been sitting outside battles taking place along the board to pounce on pucks when they come loose.

He missed the game on the 12th due to “being banged up”.

Nikita Korostelev (0g, 0a, 0pim, 1 shootout game winning goal)

Nikita Korostelev is another player who loves to fire rockets from the blue line. He loves to break up traffic and split through the opponent’s defense.

Korostelev shined bright scoring the lone shootout goal in the Monsters win over the Crunch on January 11th. There was nothing fancy to the shot. It was simply a blue-collar type shot.

Ryan Collins (0g, 0a, 2pim)

Ryan Collins played as a fourth line winger in the Monsters game against the Crunch on 01/11. He struggled speed wise as this is typically not a role he’s had to play before. All in all, he did a fairly good job as a forward.

Ryan MacInnis (0g, 1a, 2pim)

Ryan MacInnis constantly gets outmuscled on breakaways. This is something he’ll need to work on as breakaways are crucial in close games.

He plays the best with Stenlund by his side. They are great at double teaming opponents along the boards.

The highlight of MacInnis’ week is when he kept blocking Ivan Kulbakov’s (Utica Comets’ netminder) view of the ice on January 6th

Sam Vigneault (0g, 0a, 0pim)

Sam Vigneault did not play well on January 5th. Which could be why he sat for the next four games.

Sonny Milano (2g, 0a, 2pim)

Sonny Milano has been using his skills to help with his game away from the puck. His poke checking has gotten much better. When Milano poke checks, it’s like watching someone shoot pool. The check has meaning and sends the puck in a positive direction. Also, Milano is getting better at skating through traffic and drawing penalties.

He didn’t play on the 11th and 12th.

Tommy Cross (0g, 0a, 4pim)

Tommy Cross often acts as an extension of the goaltended by protecting the corners of the net. This past week he picked off a lot of shots and passes.

Vitaly Abramov (1g, 1a, 2pim)

Vitaly Abramov has been playing a fast and loose game taking too many penalties at all the wrong times. Skating used to be the bright spot for Abramov. Unfortunately, as of late, he’s been getting both outskated and outmuscled by the opposition.

His goal and assist are obviously the bright spot in Abramov’s week.

Zac Dalpe (1g, 0a, 2pim)

A lot of newer and younger players have spent time on the first line with Zac Dalpe. This fact has left a lot of people scratching their heads. However, these past few weeks, I began to notice the way Dalpe talks with younger/newer players on his line. He takes the time to explain things to them. It’s nice to see a player take the time to work with what is given to them.

Dalpe missed the past two games due to being banged up. Hopefully, he will be ready to go come the All-Star game in two weeks.