Monarchs' depth to get a stern test
The Manchester Monarchs will play three out-of-division games in as many days this weekend.
Manchester (28-23-2) will skate a split home-and-home with Adirondack (in Glens Falls, N.Y. tonight and at home Sunday at 3 p.m.) with a Saturday game with Hershey at Verizon Wireless Arena (7 p.m.) sandwiched in between.
The Monarchs are trying to find some flow within the lineup after dealing with the loss of forwards Jordan Nolan and Dwight King, who were called up to Los Angeles more than a week ago.
No roster additions are on the horizon for Manchester.
“The depth of the team has been tested and it doesn't appear things are going to change anytime soon,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “The guys we've got are the guys we've got.”
The size and skill levels of Nolan and King, who played a lot of special teams time with Manchester in addition to regular top-line shifts, are not easily replaced by the young players left in town.
Rookies Linden Vey and Robbie Czarnik have had to log penalty kill ice time, something new to them.
Morris said the focus in practice this week was on fundamentals.
“We're going through changes. We have to maximize our opportunities,” Morris said. “When we get our chances, we have to do the little things. Hit the net, stop in front, bear down during scoring chances.”
The good news for the Monarchs is the return of captain Marc-Andre Cliche, who missed two games last weekend with an abdominal injury.
“That's an encouraging thing for us,” Morris said. “He's a first-line guy, power play, penalty killer. He's a welcome addition.”
Defenseman Slava Voynov will also be in the coach's spotlight this weekend. Down from Los Angeles where he had been a healthy scratch for the past couple weeks, Voynov gave a mixed effort in his return to town last week.
A major puck-mover and threat to score on the power play, Voynov should be a factor if he plays up to potential.
“He's got to be good for us to make up for the absence of Nolan and King,” Morris said.
Jeff Zatkoff is expected to start in goal tonight and Morris said he would make a decision on Saturday and Sunday's starters based on how he feels coming out of tonight's game.
With three games in three days, Martin Jones should see at least one start.