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State of the Monsters Address : January 17-22

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photo credit: John Saraya/Cleveland Monsters

The Cleveland Monsters came out of last weekend’s tilt against the Laval Rocket with a record of 1-1-0-0.

On January 18th, the Monsters fell to the Rocket, 1-0. For the first time in a long time, the Monsters played a full 60 minutes of hockey. However, they just couldn’t crack Michael McNivens’ code.

The next night the Monsters were the victors in a four-round shootout, 5-4. Alex Broadhurst came up big with the game winning shootout goal.

Scratches

Sonny Milano, Calvin Thurkauf, Paul Bittner, Matiss Kivlenieks, and Nathan Gerbe missed both games due to injuries. Dillon Simpson missed one game due to an injury but was back in the lineup on January 19th.

Miles Koules, Blake Siebenaler, and Nikita Korostelev were healthy scratched for both games.

After hitting an official in the foot, Adam Clendening was suspended for three games causing him to miss January 19th’s game against the Rocket.

Forwards

First Line

Alex Broadhurst was back to his normal self this past weekend. While on the penalty kill, he forced multiple turnovers to allow the momentum to stay in favor of the Monsters. In Saturday’s game, Broadhurst spent a lot of time with Tommy Cross trying to stop Byron Froese from getting anywhere near the net. Broadhurst also played a very aggressive game. It was clear he was not going to let any of the Rocket push him around.

Broadhurst’s shining moment of the weekend was his shootout game winning goal on Saturday.

Fun fact, January 19th’s game against the Rocket was Broadhurst’s 216th game wearing a Monsters uniform.

Mark Letestu had a lot of great looks on the power play. None of those shots managed to get past McNivens or LaCouvee but they still looked great. Also of note is the way Letestu has been making dirty, ugly plays. I mean that in the good way. The effort he’s been putting into each play has been blue collar grinding at it’s finest.

Dan DeSalvo is continuing to fight for a spot on the team. Knowing his spot could be taken away at a moment’s notice forcing him to be sent back to the ECHL, Desalvo has been rather impressive. Full disclosure, this weekend was not as loud and fantastic for him. However, DeSalvo worked his butt off and it showed. I’m constantly in awe of the way such a small guy can take such big hits.

During Saturday’s game, DeSalvo allowed the defense to take control in the defensive zone and provided offensive support when needed. Trusting your defense to do their job is a great quality to have in any forward.

Second Line

Eric Robinson has been a bit quiet since his stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Zac Dalpe spent the first period of Friday’s game adjusting to being back from an injury. Despite having a plethora of great looks on the power play, Dalpe was unable to crack the Rocket netminder’s code.

Kole Sherwood impressed me this weekend. He was light and quick on his feet. Yet, still remained strong and balanced. The Rocket constantly triple teamed Sherwood during Friday’s game. He managed to muscle through every triple team while still holding onto the puck.

Sherwood’s energy spilled over into Saturday’s game powering him to score 1:37 into the first period.

Third Line

Sam Vigneault played a lot better this weekend than the first five games of January. After writing the last “State of the Monsters Address”, I discovered Vigneault had been fighting off an injury. Which is why he didn’t play well on January 5th and then sat the rest of the road trip. So, obviously, a healthy Vigneault is a much better player than an injured one.

Vigneault is another player who was light on their feet. Sneaky is a way to describe Vigneault’s style of play the past two games. He’s been trying to quietly scores goals from below the goal line.

Justin Scott spent a lot of Friday helping out the defense which caused him to miss his man a few times. Luckily, nothing too dangerous came from Scott missing his man.

Scott is slowly becoming a mini Brett Gallant. He is unafraid to protect his teammates while still maintaining a skilled style of play.

Vitaly Abramov continued to get manhandled by the opposition. If he doesn’t learn how to take a hit or outmuscle the opposition, he will sit in hockey limbo for quite some time. Simply put, Abramov needs to toughen up.

However, I do respect the fact Abramov threw his body in front of multiple pucks in an attempt to stop shots from becoming goals.

Fourth Line

Brett Gallant played in his 400th professional game on January 18th, 2019.

Still swift as ever. Maxime Fortier and him like to rush the net together. Could you imagine what it’s like to watch a guy like Gallant barreling down the ice towards you?

Ryan MacInnis is such a quiet player. I often forget he’s there.

He does have two very consistent positives. He is great at protecting the goalie and has no problem knocking someone out of the crease. MacInnis also leaves himself available to receive passes from his goalie and take off down the ice to create plays.

Maxime Fortier takes hits well. On Friday, he couldn’t keep up in the first period. However, Fortier began to pick up speed in the second and didn’t slow down.

Defense

First Pairing

Tommy Cross has great hands but wasn’t picking up rebounds in the offensive zone like he normally does. Cross missed his man a few times during Friday’s game.

Ryan Collins has been rather weak getting outmuscled and thrown around. On the flip side, he is good at holding the puck behind the net. This allows the Monsters to get a breather or make a line change.

Second Pairing

Gabriel Carlsson spent much of his time on ice sitting back in the neutral zone to prevent breakaways from happening.

Adam Clendening had another great showing. Unfortunately, he would only play in one of the two games. On Friday, a ref got in Clendening’s way and he slammed his stick down on the ref’s foot while trying to make a play for the puck. If he can keep his emotions in check, Clendening will be a phenomenal player.

Due to Clendening’s three-game suspension, Dillon Simpson was able to draw into the lineup. His stick work was a bit shaky which led to a few fumbled pucks.

Third Pairing

Michael Prapvessis has been moving quickly down the ice allowing him to chase down anyone with the puck. He and Dan DeSalvo read each other very well. Had a few scoring chances during Saturday’s game.

Doyle Somerby spent the past two games shining on the penalty kill. Clearing the opponent out of the crease is something he has gotten a lot better at as the season goes on.

Goaltenders

Jean-Francouis Berube covered up pucks instead of allowing rebounds. There were a few times on the penalty kill when he was out of position. In all honesty, how Berube plays comes down to who is on defense at the time.