Monarchs face ex-UNH star Butler, Devils tonight
Sometimes, it's just nice to see a different sweater on the other bench.
The Manchester Monarchs will get a break from Atlantic Division foes tonight when Albany visits for a 7 p.m. game at Verizon Wireless Arena. Manchester will be off Saturday and play at Providence Sunday at 3:05 p.m.
The Monarchs have played the Devils only once this season, on opening weekend, winning 2-1 in Albany.
"It will be a good test for us and nice to play a new team for once," said Monarchs defenseman Andrew Campbell. "It's been a lot of Springfield, a lot of Worcester, a lot of Providence."
Both teams enter play with modest win streaks. Manchester took a pair of games at St. John's last weekend to improve to 16-15-4 while Albany has won three straight to move to 13-11-7 in the Northeast Division.
"They've been on a streak lately, tying some wins together and moving up the standings," Campbell said. "They've got a lot of skilled forwards and good players."
Former University of New Hampshire star Bobby Butler leads the Devils in scoring with 15 goals and seven assists. According to the Albany Times Union, Butler may be among a group that ends up in New Jersey for the start of the NHL season on Jan. 19, but those players will skate for Albany on Friday and Saturday (at home against Worcester) before heading to Newark.
The Monarchs said goodbye to Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov this week as all three flew to Los Angeles to join the Kings in anticipation of the NHL season. According to reports, the Kings will open Jan. 19 at home against Chicago.
That situation, a roster in flux, will be the theme for this weekend around the AHL as teams adjust to players lost to the big clubs.
"It's hard to know what (Albany is) going to have as well," said Monarchs head coach Mark Morris. "I'm sure they're anxious to see who they'll have and I think most coaches around the league are wondering what cards everybody is playing with."
Fitting different players into new roles amid the line combinations and special teams units will be key this weekend.
"The other guys have been here all year. It's not like it's a new system to them," Campbell said. "They've just got to step in and execute and it will be good to get some chemistry going with what will be our team the rest of the way."
With Voynov's departure from the blue line, the Monarchs signed defenseman Vincent LoVerde to a pro tryout agreement on Wednesday. LoVerde played 11 games with Manchester earlier in the season before being returned to Ontario of the ECHL.