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Going North: Monsters in the basement

Cleveland has fallen to dead last in Eastern Conference

AHL: FEB 08 Chicago Wolves at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Since we last checked in on the Cleveland Monsters, it has all been bad news. All you have to do is check the standings to see they have fallen all the way to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The “crucial stretch” of schedule I had warned about in the last two Monsters posts was not kind to the club. Just past the halfway mark this season, the Monsters have amassed a 14-20-5-3 record, including 3-11-1-0 since the January recap. All of a sudden, that expanded playoff format does not seem big enough.

Let’s take a look at what has gone wrong happened.

Record Setters

The Cleveland Monsters have been busy setting records this past month — just not the kind they had hoped for. The Monsters just snapped the longest losing streak in the AHL this season, setting a franchise record along the way with 9 straight losses. In those losses, they were outscored 38-15 and scored one goal or less in five of those games. Their most recent loss saw the Monsters trail 5-0 after the first period. In their defense, they put up a fight, clawing all the way back to make it a one goal game. Unfortunately, they were unable to complete the epic comeback, losing by a final score 7-5. It was a game in which the Monsters were clearly the better team, outshooting their opponent 44-24. Spotting teams a five goal lead is a pretty tough hill to climb. That comeback attempt may have been the spark the team needed to get this thing turned around.

Oddly enough, the Monsters snapped their streak of futility this past Saturday, by beating the league leading Utica Comets by a final score of 2-1. Carson Meyer, fresh off his recall to the big club, notched both assists on each of Tyler Angle’s two goals.

Speaking of Tyler Angle, he’s my...

Player to Watch

Angle is one of the few players left on the Monsters with a realistic chance of getting his first taste of NHL action this season. Scoring hasn’t come as easily to Angle in his sophomore season, but the skill is still there. He’s averaging just over a half point per game which is still somewhat impressive when you consider he has gone through scoring droughts of 9 games with 0 points and another 9 game stretch with just a single point. Pretty much everything has been hard to come by for the Monsters and in what is a quickly fading season for Cleveland, the development of Tyler Angle is a priority. Learning to battle through this adversity is not necessarily a bad thing.

Also, anybody who pulls this off in a game deserves an instant call up.

Stenlund Trade Interest?

It has been hinted at that Kevin Stenlund could be on the move. It would make sense for the Jackets to try and get something of value in return for the big, right-handed center. I wouldn’t be susprised at all if Stenlund has approached the team asking for a trade if he is not going to get a shot with the big club.

The Edmonton Oilers have been linked to Stenlund. The thought is he could solidify their bottom six. Elliotte Friedman wondered about this in his latest “32 Thoughts.

I always thought Stenlund deserved more of a chance than he got. If his time is running out in Columbus/Cleveland, I’ll root for his success wherever he ends up.

Up Next

The Monsters look to put together some wins to get back into the playoff race and are back in action this weekend for a back-to-back against the Charlotte Checkers. A midweek matchup with Grand Rapids is followed up with another back-to-back against Lehigh Valley. Four out of the next five games are against teams directly above them in the standings.

These Monsters need to get it together quick, because they aren’t scaring anybody.