action:article | category:SPORTS0702 | adString:SPORTS0702 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » Hockey » Monarchs

January 01. 2013 10:57PM

Ian Clark's On Hockey: Monarchs just not playing up to expectations

MANCHESTER -- The names on the roster say one thing, but the results on the ice have said something else.

Nearing the halfway point of the AHL season, the Manchester Monarchs find themselves below .500 at 14-15-4 and in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. The Monarchs opened the season 5-1 and appeared ready to take the winning formula from the Los Angeles Kings' Stanley Cup championship and run with it.

With four players from that Cup title playing in Manchester due to the NHL lockout, a young goaltender ready to take the No. 1 spot and a good mix of veterans and talented young players, the Monarchs were primed for a strong season.

At least on paper.

"We're a better team on paper. But it's just paper," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "You've got to step out on the ice and get it done. We're looking for results right now."

Goaltending has been a major issue, with Martin Jones struggling as the No. 1 goalie. Jones has lost a franchise-record nine consecutive starts and forced veteran Peter Mannino into more active duty than was expected.

Inconsistent scoring has also plagued the team and the four players from L.A.'s Cup run have also not delivered. There have been injuries among them, but for the most part, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Andrei Loktionov and defenseman Slava Voynov have not delivered on expectations.

Loktionov has been the most productive with his time, scoring five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 24 games. Nolan has 2-3-5 in 19 games, sometimes appearing as though he's ready to take over a game with his size and skill while otherwise disappearing for shifts at a time.

King has scored 5-11-16 in 26 games, but his net-front presence and strength have not been on display as much as expected. Voynov has 6-9-15 in 33 games. He is frequently effective on both offense and defense, but also appears disinterested at other times.

Asked directly about the disappointment of the four Stanley Cup winners playing for him, Morris only smiled and kept silent. But his comments from just a few moments before being asked that question speak volumes.

"I'm sure that there are guys that are here that are hoping that the NHL starts up so that they can pick up where they left off last year, and I'm not so sure that their focus is totally where it needs to be right now," Morris said.

The frustration with how the season has gone isn't just in the coach's office.

"Our expectations were high and are high. With all the names here, there's got to be a standard," said Monarchs assistant captain Thomas Hickey. "We've got to get everyone playing up to the top level as often as we can. We have the big names but we're just not putting them all together at the same time so it doesn't mean anything at all."

It is a new system in Manchester this season. The system Kings head coach Darryl Sutter used to win the Stanley Cup is being played by the Monarchs. It's high-energy, but requires discipline and some of the younger players have not bought in despite the obvious success L.A. had.

"It's really frustrating. I think we're still looking to grasp the system. That system works. Everybody works short shifts and we're all over the opposition," captain Marc-Andre Cliche said. "That system is all about working. Sometimes you can work your butt off, but you don't work smart. We work really hard, but we're not smart about it."

A full 60-minute effort has been elusive for Manchester. After the hot start in October, the team has struggled to string together wins, often losing late leads or seeing winnable games slip away as Monday's 3-2 loss to Worcester did.

The Monarchs will try and get things going in the right direction this weekend with a road trip to St. John's in Newfoundland.

"We just continue to find ways to spoil a good effort. It's hard to believe that we haven't grasped that concept yet, that we have to defend before we can attack," Morris said. "Hopefully, in the new year we'll be able to look back at all of the rough spots and glitches that have taken good efforts and turned them into losing efforts and learn from it."





.



Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is iclark@unionleader.com.


 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

Grantland.com: 15 Questions for San Antonio's Matt Bonner

Former KSC basketball player killed months after joining NYC police in patrol van crash

Speed and thrills at Kingston hydroplane races

NHMS, Miller Lite extend deal for another 3 years

NASCAR: Who the Vegas wise guys like heading into Loudon

Goalie Danny Tirone to enroll at UNH for second semester after star's suspension for domestic violence

'Smoke' blows into New Hampshire with the law in his rear-view mirror

Man found unconscious at Winchester Speedpark Saturday

Too young to drive, but old enough for NHMS

Police examine speed, possible horseplay in golf cart fatality

Mass. man, 27, dies in golf cart accident at The Links at Outlook

Hanover's Sarah Groff competes in the women's triathlon final during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Hanover Olympian in spotlight at Las Vegas Super Sprint

FHL makes it official, team planned for Berlin will play in North Adams, Mass. instead

Can NH soccer star Charlie Davies make a comeback?

Inside NIKEs secret sports lab; born in Exeter, now located in Oregon.

Concord Monitor decries gender pay gap in professional tennis

FHL franchise slated for Berlin may go to North Adams, Mass. instead

Eagles' Kelly says he learned his offense by studying defense while at UNH

Former Concord area youth baseball coach sentenced to 30 more years in prison

Maine boxer Brandon Berry making Fight to Educate history

Hudson family, classmates working to keep Alvirne soccer standout Raul Stedile in U.S.

Israel unrest moves meet for NH swim star

Race date for Oxford 250 moved from July to Aug. 30 next year

NH's Groff a highlight for U.S. at ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

MORE

 New Hampshire Events Calendar
    

    SHARE EVENTS FOR PUBLICATION, IT'S FREE!

Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory

  

    ADD YOUR BUSINESS TODAY!