Monarchs leave the south on track for playoff berth

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The January slump appears to be firmly in the rear-view mirror and it looks like the mini-slump against the Stingrays was also an aberration.

It’s Feb. 20, here’s your Manchester Monarchs Week in Review.

Game Recap

 

The Monarchs return home after their third trip into the south and outside of a poor defensive night in Jacksonville and a night in Greenville where the ice melted, the boys in black were perfect during the first two trips and this latest trip was not much different.

In the first game of this trip against Greenville, Spencer Watson grabbed a hat trick in before returning to the AHL a day later.

Manchester followed that up with comprehensive, power play-fueled wins against Atlanta on Friday and Sunday, swapping out Watson and Jake Wood with Michael Doherty and Matt Marcinew.

Three Stars

 

Top Star – Jordan LaVallee-Smotherman: LaVallee-Smotherman has probably locked himself into this slot for just about every week and probably will be here for just about every week moving forward with a few rare exceptions.

One of those exceptions would be if he’s earned another shot in the AHL or NHL, which wouldn’t be surprising given his performance for most of this season, particularly given the Kings scramble for a wild card in the crazy Pacific Division race.

If he stays in the ECHL, he has an outside shot at the scoring title, behind only Colorado’s Michael Joly. Although Joly has six more goals in seven fewer games than LaVallee-Smotherman, he’s also only gotten three goals this month.

Second Star – Charles Williams: When a team scores around half a dozen goals each night, it’s easy to overlook goaltending, but Williams has been a key to the Monarchs’ success on those nights when they can’t fire on all cylinders.

Like LaVallee-Smotherman, he too will also likely get another shot in either the AHL or NHL, the question is when and where, as the Kings are set with Monarchs alum Jonathan Quick.

Third Star (tie) – Joel Lowry, Matt Marcinew, Zac Lynch: Call it a copout, but one of the Monarchs’ strengths this season is the fact that they’ve had multiple heroes on multiple nights, even if LaVallee-Smotherman and Williams are the most common heroes.

Marcinew was the sparkplug in Friday’s game and had an assist hat trick against Greenville, Lowry had points in all three games and Lynch came just short of joining Lowry on Sunday.

Beyond the Blue Lines

Along with Watson leaving on Feb. 16, Downing and Matt O’Connor returned to the AHL earlier today.

With O’Connor gone, the likely replacement would be Evan Cawley. Cawley began the season on loan from the Springfield Thunderbirds, but was recalled after an injury to Robert Luongo, creating a goaltending shuffle throughout the Florida Panthers organization.

Luongo was activated from the injured reserve last week and took the ice again this week, meaning Haari Sateri will likely head back down to the AHL, although Sateri may have cemented his place as Luongo’s backup after James Reimer’s poor performance against Winnipeg last week.

Either way, one would assume Cawley would be the third man in Springfield, likely one goaltender too many for the T-Birds.

Coming Up

 

In past years, 80 points has been the threshold for a playoff berth in the ECHL and at their current rate, the Monarchs will reach that point on March 11 against Norfolk. However, they can reach that total as early as the final game of their current homestand, the March 3 game against Adirondack.