Blog: 3 Encouraging Signs

WHERE TO LISTEN

Weekend number two of the American Hockey League season is upon us, and the Monsters have a lot to be happy about, and a good deal of momentum going with three games in the books.  I’ll get to the three things I thought were most encouraging as soon as I remind you of this: the Monsters-Oklahoma City clash tonight in Oklahoma is slated to begin at 8:00 PM, and you can listen live on Newstalk 1420 WHK.  I’ll also be a guest on the weekly show “The Sports Fix” following the game on Newstalk 1420 WHK, so there will be plenty of Monsters hockey coming your way Saturday night.

Sunday, the Monsters will be back over on AM 1220 WHKW at 6:00 PM when they visit the Texas Stars for the first time this season.

STRENGTHS SHOWING EARLY

Anyway, the Monsters are back to the ice tonight and Tuesday night against Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the highly-publicized Oklahoma City Barons.  Entering the game, the Monsters have three things working in their favor that can be useful against Oklahoma City, and any other team on the schedule. 

First of all, the Monsters depth has shown over the first three games.  We all know that the nature of the American Hockey League is that rosters can always change at a moment’s notice, but right now, the Monsters have four lines that can contribute, and players at all positions are contributing.  Through three games, defenseman Tyson Barrie leads the Monsters in goals with two, and defenseman Thomas Pock leads the team in points with four.  Rookies are contributing; Paul Carey is second on the Monsters with three points in three games, and Mike Sgarbossa and Andrew Agozzino each have two points.  Agozzino has a game-winning goal. 

Secondly- and this goes along with the depth- the goaltending tandem has been very encouraging.  Over the opening weekend, each of the Monsters two goalies picked up victories.  Calvin Pickard’s shutout of Toronto on Sunday involved the rookie netminder steering aside 40 pucks, including 15 shots in the second period alone.

Finally, the penalty kill looks very solid.  The only power play goal the Monsters gave up in 26 times shorthanded over the season’s first three games was a five-on-three  power play goal, which was scored by Oklahoma City’s Mark Arcobello. 

EXCITING MATCHUP

Twice more this season we’ll get to see a matchup that involves the Monsters highly-skilled young offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie and Oklahoma City’s puck-moving blueliner Justin Schultz.  Barrie has two goals in three games, and Schultz has three.  While they have differing styles, both can take over on any given shift.  A great deal of hype surrounded Schultz in the offseason, but the rookie certainly looks to be as advertised early in the campaign.  Drop in this pair among some of the other solid young offensive defensemen across the conference- Grand Rapids’ Brendan Smith and Charlotte’s Justin Faulk are a couple other notables- and fans have a chance to see some great young players on the blue line.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

A road trip can often bring a team together.  The Monsters are on in the midst of four consecutive road games, and actually have a longer stretch of road games coming up in November.  Since training camp, we’ve heard players across the roster talk about the great chemistry this group has, and getting on the road together can almost certainly reinforce that.  Especially with the number of first-year players on the team, a swing to Oklahoma City and Austin will be beneficial.

OFF THE ICE

Oklahoma City is one of my favorite places to visit on the road.  Shortly after arriving in town, we were able to go across the street and watch some of Friday night’s Oklahoma City-San Antonio game in Oklahoma.  Near the hotel are a couple of my favorite lunch stops on the road; a regional chain called Texadelphia, and a local chain called Earl’s Rib Palace.  In Austin, I’m planning a return trip to Taco Cabana!  Follow on Twitter @DougPlagens for a full report on that, among many other things.

I’d like to go see the inside of the recently-completed Devon Energy Tower; the 844-foot tallest building in Oklahoma, upon which the finishing touches were placed earlier this year.  For those scoring at home, it’s the 36th tallest building in the United States according to Wikipedia!

I’ve been listening to a lot of Sum 41 lately, which is nothing out of the ordinary for me.  I have my tickets to see the Ajax, Ontario quartet in November at the House of Blues.  It’ll be my first Sum 41 concert since September 22, 2007 in Rochester, New York.  Again, for those scoring at home, it’ll be my third time seeing the band in my lifetime.

Remember to keep sending your ideas for where you’d like to see future editions of the Monsters Minute recorded.  Do so via the Monsters Twitter- @MonstersHockey- and on the Monsters Facebook page; and always use hashtag #DougInCLE.

This weekend began with a convincing 40-10 victory for the Syracuse Orange over UConn.  Hopefully that’s a positive sign of things to come over the next week. 

Go Monsters!

 


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