Monarchs eye fast start
The Manchester Monarchs skated for their last practice before Friday's home-opener. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER — After an early exit from the AHL playoffs in April, it's been a while since the Manchester Monarchs played at home.
The Monarchs host Providence tonight at 7 and Portland tomorrow (7 p.m.) at Verizon Wireless Arena.
“Our primary focus is to get off to a good start and hopefully treat the fans to an 'A' game,” said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. “It's been a long time since we last skated in this building.”
After two road wins to open the season, the Monarchs players are eager to play at home as well.
“It's always nice to get the fans back,” said forward Stefan Legein. “The fans here are great and they've always made it fun to play here.”
The Bruins come into tonight's game with an 0-2 record after dropping games against Manchester and Bridgeport.
“Both teams have had an opportunity to scout each other and find ways to shut each other down and exploit each other,” Morris said. “No question this will be a game where there is more strategy involved.”
Providence has several players who project to be with the big club in Boston once the NHL season starts, including Jordan Caron and Chris Bourque (son of Bruins legend Ray), who led the AHL in scoring last season but has been held without a point through two games.
Several more players, among them Carter Camper, Max Sauve and Craig Cunningham, are also expected to be on their way north to Boston sooner rather than later so fans will get a glimpse of some future Boston Bruins tonight.
“They're a hard-working team,” Legein said. “They've got a lot of good guys and character players. We had a tough game there Friday and know they're not going to roll over.”
Portland comes into the weekend having played one game thus far (a road loss at Adirondack) but the Monarchs are familiar with them thanks to a pair of preseason games (both won by Manchester).
The Monarchs are hoping that Jordan Nolan, who is likely to join Los Angeles when the NHL revs up, will be available this weekend.
Nolan sustained an undisclosed injury in a fight with Bobby Robins of Providence in the season opener and missed the second game.
“We got some good news on him,” Morris said. “It looks like he's going to be able to play sooner than we expected.”
Morris also has some personnel decisions to make. With a large roster of talent, good players have to sit out.
Manchester has seven starting-caliber defensemen and six spots most nights. David Kolomatis sat game one last weekend but came on to score two goals in the game against Albany.
“We're deeper than we've been ever in the way of guys fighting for playing time,” Morris said.
The annual “Max and Cheese” promotion is in effect this weekend and fans are asked to bring boxes of macaroni and cheese to donate to the New Hampshire Food Bank.