Ian Clark's On Hockey: Monarchs get out the lunch pail
GOFFSTOWN -- Simplify, skate harder and take fewer penalties. Those are the keys for the Manchester Monarchs as they attempt to break a two-game scoring drought.
The Monarchs (5-2-1, 11 points) will host Atlantic Division foe St. John's (5-6-0, 10) tonight at 7 at Verizon Wireless Arena. Manchester comes in having lost a 3-0 home game to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday and a 1-0 shootout at Worcester Sunday.
"Ours is more in our overall attitude. If we skate, we're defending well and we're going to get offensive chances," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "Penalties have drifted into our game and it saps the strength of our team when a lot of the same guys are counted on to keep the puck out of the net shorthanded. We've got to be more disciplined."
Manchester's success out of the blocks included scoring goals in bunches and those early returns may have led to some belief that every game was going to be a skate in the park.
"We've just got to keep working. We've been getting a little too fancy, I think," said forward Stefan Legein. "We had a couple games where we were successful offensively and we thought it was going to come easy and in this league any given night is a totally different game with any team so we've got to keep working hard and hopefully those bounces come."
And the players know it doesn't take a highlight reel goal to provide the spark.
"If we can maybe get a not-so-pretty goal to get us going, from there on I think we'll be able to find a groove and everyone will have a little more confidence in their game," said forward Dwight King.
Manchester will try and get back on track against an IceCaps team with scoring woes of its own. St. John's has been shut out in four of its last six games.
For the Monarchs, some of the struggles can be laid on injuries. Two key defensemen, Andrew Campbell and David Kolomatis, have both had recent surgery and will be out for at least six weeks.
Up front, Jordan Nolan is close to returning after an injury sustained in a fight in the season opener, but precautionary extra time has been given and his return date is still unknown. Andrei Loktionov started skating Tuesday and could be back this weekend.
All of the injuries have led to line combination juggling.
"We want to get back to playing with a lot more purpose. I think we've been a little hesitant over the last few games as our chemistry has been altered," Morris said. "Guys are trying to figure things out that are filling in for those players. It's affecting our penalty kill, our power play and our line combinations."
The bottom line is that the players who are giving effort will be the ones who play once the injuries are sorted out. This is chance for guys who were not in the lineup much before to prove they deserve to play.
"We should be able to plug in anyone in this team and if you're skating and working hard, you'll get your chances and you're going to play better defense, too, when you're skating," Morris said. "I just think some of our guys had to be reminded that we're not going to revert back to old habits. We're moving forward. We're going to play the style the (parent club) Kings play.
"And when guys get healthy, the guys that get it are the guys that are going to play."