What's On Tap...A Test In The West

Labatt Blue
What's on Tap
It’s not over until the fat lady sings. This is the sentiment the Lake Erie Monsters have as they pay their final visit to a pair of teams in President Obama’s home state of Illinois in the 2009-10 regular season. The Monsters will travel to Peoria on Thursday, Rockford on Friday, and return to Peoria on Saturday for their last games against West Division opponents in the 2009-10 regular season.

Six represents more than just a number to a playoff hungry Monsters team. With merely six games left in the 2009-10 regular season, Lake Erie finds themselves in sixth place in the North Division trailing the Manitoba Moose by six points for the final playoff spot in the North Division. 

Who wants it more? The Monsters aren’t the only ones on the outside looking in for a Calder Cup Playoff berth. With two out of the three games taking place in Peoria, the Monsters will be facing a challenging Rivermen team just three points out of a playoff spot in the West Division, an accomplishment that would mean back-to-back playoff appearances for the top farm club of the NHL's St. Louis Blues.

Rookies Ryan Stoa of the Monsters and Lars Eller of the Rivermen represent threats as each are in the league’s top 20 in rookie scoring. Eller is fourth with 52 points (16G, 36A) and Stoa is 13th with 38 points (23G, 15A). Stoa is also tied for the number one spot among first-year players in goals (23) and second in power play goals (10).

The ability to kill a penalty is a skill the Monsters will need to rely on when facing Peoria. The Rivermen rank fifth in the AHL with a power play that clicks at a 20.3 percent success rate. The Monsters penalty killing has been less than stellar this year as it ranks last in the league with a 78.9 percent success rate. Penalties will be a key determining factor in the outcome of the two games.

Between two trips to Peoria is a matchup with the Rockford IceHogs. The IceHogs currently hold the third spot in the West Division and are looking to clinch their third straight Calder Cup Playoff appearance. The Monsters have not faired well against the IceHogs this season (1-4-0-0) but will look to reverse their luck on Friday at 8:05 p.m.

The next three games and every game this season will be broadcast on the Monsters flagship radio station, ESPN 850 WKNR.  Listen Live on ESPN 850 WKNR | Watch here via AHL Live

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