Game Day: IceCaps at Monarchs
The St. John’s IceCaps (5-6-0-0) visit the Atlantic Division leading Manchester Monarchs (5-2-0-1) Wednesday night at Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.
The IceCaps went 5-3-0-0 against the Monarchs last season including a 3-1-0-0 mark in Manchester. Their last meeting was on Apr. 15, the final day of the 2011-12 regular season. Manchester, looking to secure a playoff spot, defeated the already-clinched IceCaps 4-2 on the strength of three first period goals.
The IceCaps (10 points) and Monarchs (11 points) are separated by just one point in the Atlantic Division, with Manchester having played three fewer games than St. John’s. Manchester sits first in the division and third in the Eastern Conference, while St. John’s ranks third in the division and seventh in the conference.
ICECAPS LAST TIME OUT
St. John’s was shut out in its most recent outing, a 3-0 loss to the Providence Bruins at Dunkin’ Donuts Center Sunday afternoon. Playing their third game in three days, St. John’s could not fend off the more-rested Bruins, who received offensive support from tough guy Bobby Robins just 22 seconds after the opening faceoff. Niklas Svedberg needed to make just 18 saves for the shutout.
MONARCHS RECENT ACTION
The Monarchs are also coming off a shutout loss Sunday afternoon, having dropped a 1-0 shootout decision to the Worcester Sharks. Despite 38 saves by goaltender Martin Jones, the Monarchs could not muster any offence against Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock, who stopped 27 shots and made three-of-five saves in the shootout for the victory.
SCORING WOES CONTINUE
The road was not any kinder to the IceCaps in terms of scoring goals. After being shut out in two of the final three games on their last home stand, St. John’s was blanked twice in three games this past weekend, suffering 3-0 losses to the Pirates and Bruins Friday and Sunday, respectively. Through 11 games, the team has scored just 24 times, an average of 2.18 goals per game, 26th in the AHL.
KEEPING IT CLOSE
St. John’s has played in six one-goal games this season, winning five of them. The club is 2-0 in games decided in overtime.
One factor affecting the lack of scoring in the past five games has been a dormant power play unit. The IceCaps are in the midst of a 1-for-33 funk with the man advantage and have fallen to 23rd overall (12.1%). However, the team endured a similar funk one year ago (they began the season going 1-for-29) and ended up finishing third overall at 20.6%.
The IceCaps welcomed back two major additions in All-Star defenceman Paul Postma and rugged forward Ray Sawada. Postma scored the overtime winner in Saturday’s triumph at Worcester while Sawada chipped in with two assists. Patrice Cormier remains out for the next four weeks with a lower body injury while John Albert, who was banged up over the weekend, is considered day-to-day. Derek Meech (flu) missed Friday and Saturday’s games but returned to the lineup on Sunday.