Leading up to the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline the Cleveland Monsters’ played a weekend homestand against the Milwaukee Admirals.
As what seems to be tradition for the Monsters, both games went to overtime. Zac Dalpe was the overtime hero 16 seconds into extra time on Friday. While, Marc Letestu was the last second, literally, hero in Sunday’s overtime win.
A weekend full of games was a welcome distraction from the impending trade deadline.
“I think it’s easy. Playing hockey should be easy. Should be easy to get focused. It takes your mind off everything else that’s going on. You just concentrate on the game and you’re around the guys. It shouldn’t be a problem. Especially since you can’t control that. What you can control is how you play on Sunday and that’s it.” – Head Coach John Madden
When not on the ice, some of the Monsters found it best to take a break from social media during the trade deadline chaos.
“As I’ve learned and gone on through the years, I check my phone less. You’re very accessible. So, if somebody wants to get ahold of ya, they’re going to find a way. I’ve stayed of Twitter in the past. Stayed off Instagram and all the social media stuff. It’s easy to get caught up in it.” – Zac Dalpe
In the end, everyone knows trade deadline was business as usual and they couldn’t let if affect their game. They all have a job to do and goals to meet. Right now, the Monsters are trying to make a big push to the playoffs.
“We know that up there they are going for it. Clearly, by what they have done. Sometimes down here it affects things. You really can’t focus on what they’re doing. It’s a day-to-day thing and there is really nothing you can do. You play for the team you play for at the time. If something happens, it happens and you adjust from there. As of right now, the focus is on the Monsters getting to the playoffs.” – Marc Letestu
Alex Broadhurst, Nathan Gerbe, Calvin Thurkauf, Justin Wade, Maxime Fortier, and Sonny Milano were all scratches during the weekend series against the Admirals.
It doesn’t appear Captain Nathan Gerbe will be coming back anytime soon.
Vitali Abramov was traded on Friday during gameday practice to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Matt Duchene. Leading up to trade deadline Abramov was starting to move in the right direction. The hard work Coach Madden was putting into him finally began to play off.
“It was a lot of work put in with Abe (Abramov). It was a lot of meetings, but he was coming. Playing both sides of the puck at times. His game was definitely tracking in the right direction.” – Head Coach John Madden
On Monday, Alex Broadhurst was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Future Considerations. Here’s the catch, Broadhurst will still play for the Monsters. The real question here is whether he will play or not once he is finally healthy.
I often wonder why Dan DeSalvo plays the number of minutes he does on a nightly basis. There is no doubt that he is a good player. However, he is just not near the level of a first liner. DeSalvo starts off strong every game but you can tell the first line minutes paired with the first power play unit and first penalty kill units wears him down. Around halfway through the second period, you can see him begin to slow and make mistakes.
A move to a lower line would prove beneficial to DeSalvo.
Mark Letestu is one of the most dependable and reliable players on the ice. From the moment he steps on the ice, you can tell Letestu is a leader on the ice. Just like Zac Dalpe, Letestu takes time to explain plays and positioning to other players during the game.
Kevin Stenlund has been rather impressive as of late. During Sunday’s overtime win, he came up big with two goals. Both came to fruition due to great passing by Sam Vigneault and Kole Sherwood.
One of Stenlund’s strong suits is the way he sits near the crease waiting for a juicy rebound or quick pass.
Justin Scott spent the first game of the weekend fumbling pucks, missing hits, and shooting wide of the net. His speed and accuracy were back in action during Sunday’s game.
Ryan MacInnis looked a little lost at times during the series against the Admirals.
Nikita Korostelev is a bit up and down. He spent half the time forcing turnovers. The other half giving the puck away.
Paul Bittner was a bit quiet during the weekend homestand against the Admirals. Quiet doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Bittner was still doing all the right things but did them in a sneaky manner.
Friday, February 22nd was Zac Dalpe’s first game back in 14 games due to an undisclosed lower body injury.
During his injury, Dalpe passed time playing mini sticks with his son and working on his stick handling skills.
“My kid is really into mini sticks right now. So, I cleaned the garage. He plays mini sticks while I stick handle with a real hockey stick and puck.” – Zac Dalpe
Dalpe watched every game in an attempt to see what he can bring to the table upon return. However, according to Dalpe, nothing compares to actually playing the game. So, he was definitely excited for his return.
“I think every guy brings something to the team. It’s easy to watch games and pick apart what you see. That’s called being an arm chair gm. It’s easy to see the strengths and weaknesses but you can’t mimic a game until you play one.” – Zac Dalpe
In his first game back scored two goals. One was the overtime game winner. It was a backhanded beauty.
He did have a few missteps in his first game but that is to be expected when one comes back from a lengthy injury
After such an incredible weekend, Dalpe was rewarded by the Columbus Blue Jackets with a two-year, two-way contract extension.
Kole Sherwood has gotten better at setting up plays for his linemates.
One of the best things about Sherwood is how he uses the other team’s hate to power him to success. He feeds off the haters.
Brett Gallant did not have a good weekend. He made a lot of rookie mistakes.
However, during Friday’s game, Gallant started a fight which changed the momentum in the Monsters favor.
“The fans don’t really know what that fight meant to us. I know it’s barbaric and people may not agree with fights. That sparks us. I owe it to Gally for the spark we had. That was a great fight.” – Zac Dalpe
Sam Vigneault was pretty solid. The worst thing he did was miss a few key passes from Brett Gallant and Miles Koules.
Miles Koules is not a fourth liner. His brain moves 10 times faster than half of the team and can effortlessly see plays form two shifts ahead of time.
As of late the defense has not played that well together. There have been a lot of miscommunication between pairs. On Sunday, January 24th, the defense finally looked like it’s old self. This may have to do with the fact that two pairings were finally reunited. Doyle Somerby and Ryan Collins play well together. While Tommy Cross brings out the absolute best in Dillon Simpson.
Michael Prapavessis had a very difficult time during Friday’s game. He had trouble skating and was falling all over the place.
Adam Clendening took Prapavessis’ place in the lineup upon his return from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He immediately made a difference on the ice by making smart plays and blocks.
I have said a lot of negative things about Dillon Simpson. However, I’m will to admit he’s gotten better as the season has progressed. He’s turned into a phenomenal shot blocker who has no qualms with sacrificing his body to save the day. Another thin Simpson has gotten better at is keeping the opposition out of the crease.
Matiss Kivlenieks was sent down to the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings for more playing time. This leaves Brad Thiessen and Jean-Francois Berube backstopping the Monsters.
It also appears Elvis Merzlikens will be playing with the Monsters after his season with HC Lugano comes to a close.
Jean-Francois Berube is doing a great job of hanging onto the puck instead of kicking away rebounds. He’s also gotten better about knowing when it’s appropriate to leave the net and when it’s not.
Meet back here on Tuesday, March 5th for another edition of “The State of the Monsters Address”. This weekend is going to be a doozy as they play back-to-back-to-back games. Two at home and one away.