Perhaps out of pity for our hockey-less state, LAKings.com is streaming the Manchester Monarchs' season opener for us. So instead of having to decide if you want to pay to see this game, you can just head on over to their site. You can also listen to the radio broadcast here.
The biggest roster move for Manchester came yesterday, when the Monarchs signed veteran Peter Mannino to be their backup. 21-year-old goalie J.F. Berube was assigned to the Ontario Reign of the ECHL. There had been some doubt as to whether Manchester was the right place for Berube at this point in his career, even though he has more upside. Since Martin Jones is expected to handle the bulk of the starts for Manchester, Berube will get more playing time to further his development with the Reign.
Stanley Cup of Chowder has a preview and the lineup for the Providence Bruins. We haven't heard about the scratches on the Manchester side yet, but here are three things to watch for in tonight's game:
1) Ice time
In this season preview of the Monarchs, coach Mark Morris said: "We’re a deep team right now. It’s going to be like splitting hairs as to who’s in and who’s out. And I dare say most of these guys that are young pros have never sat a game in their lives."
We haven't heard who is going to be scratched today, but there are a lot of talented young players vying for ice time. Only one defenseman who was there on a tryout was cut. So who plays and who sits? That could easily rotate every game.
The Monarchs are a development-oriented team, so it wouldn't surprise me to see them spread ice time and special team assignments around regardless of age and experience. It will be interesting to track which players make the most of their opportunities.
2) Learning Sutter's system
Monarchs players and coaches are required to play whatever system the Kings' coach employs. They have embraced the new aggressive, up-tempo style with open arms and seem to find the greater amount of freedom to be a breath of fresh air.
When the Kings switched from Murray to Sutter last season, their puck possession improved dramatically. You can see the way their total shot attempts spiked after the switch was made. In the preseason, the new-look Monarchs also heavily out-shot their opponents in two out of three games. They are still working out the kinks of Sutter's system, but I'll be looking to see if they can continue that pattern tonight.
3) Line chemistry
Cliche, Meckler, and Clune are veterans of the checking line, but where will the new faces settle in? We saw various line combos in the preseason. Loktionov has been teamed up with Jordan Nolan. Whichever player got to play with them (Prokhorkin or Kozun) will benefit from being on a dangerous, productive line. Vey and Toffoli also seem to be hitting it off. I'd love to see more of the new guys find chemistry with the more experienced regulars.
The puck drops soon. Let's raise a glass and an imaginary banner at home.