The Manchester Monarchs scored five times in their victory over the Portland Pirates (Arizona Coyotes). But don't let the final tally fool you - they weren't quite as superior as it may appear.
Sheng Peng watched the game Thursday night and was awesome enough to let me use his comments. Here are his thoughts:
- Jordan Weal had an absolutely outstanding game from puck drop to finish. He was the most dominant player on the ice in front of most of the Los Angeles Kings' front office.
- J.F. Berube was not heavily tested, but played fairly well, making 14 saves on 16 shots.
- Journeyman goaltender Mike McKenna had an awful night, allowing 4 goals on 14 shots. He was pulled after the second period in favor of highly touted prospect Louis Domingue ("Doh-meeng").
- Manchester had the edge in play and chances while Portland got physical ("send a message" / "set a tone") after the game got out of hand.
- Colin Miller is an interesting case. He's clearly a talented hockey player, but he's probably been able to get away with a lot of bad habits, especially in his own zone. Sheng noted a potential comparison between Miller and Portland assistant coach John Slaney. From Elite Prospects:
Slaney was an offensive defenseman with good vision and passing ability. His shot also made him a quality powerplay quarterback. Would have some problems defensively and in physical battles.
- Essentially, Slaney had no trouble picking up points. But the whole defense part was apparently lacking for the defenseman. And there's a legitimate concern within LA's front office that Miller could end up like Slaney. I don't know if he could necessarily be a Nicolas Deslauriers type in that switching to forward would benefit the speedy d-man, but I suppose anything is possible.
- Sheng believes that given Miller's defensive deficiencies, he would've been eaten alive at the NHL level this year. According to Hockey's Future, Miller projects as a low level pairing defenseman. As he continues to fill out and get stronger, if Miller can fix his defense issues, he could have a higher ceiling than Alec Martinez (who he is potentially replacing).
- Weal had eight of the team's 23 shots-on-goal (that's how much he owned in that game) while Brian O'Neill had five. So together, they had more than half of the team's shots, which is probably one reason why they scored four goals.
|14||David Van der Gulik||LW||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||0||0.0|
The Monarchs went shorthanded a total of five times and the Pirates scored twice on the power play (once when the game was already decided). Games between the Monarchs and Pirates are always physical and intense but I suspect Head Coach Mike Stothers is probably not pleased with the lack of discipline.
Andy Tonge of Mayor's Manor says it wouldn't be a surprise to see Domingue get a start in this series. If anyone could steal a game or two, it'd be him.
Despite a large amount of goals, there was a curiously low amount of shots, as the Monarchs out-shot Portland 23-16. There were clear jitters from both teams starting the game, but neither team settled into playing their best hockey at any point.
While shot totals were low, there was no lack of physical play, as both teams played a rough and tumble game, filled with forays after every whistle. As division rivals, the two teams do not like each other, and it showed on Thursday. Expect the rough stuff to ramp up as the series presses on.
In goal, Berube looked a little shaky early on, but settled in nicely as the game progressed. Though he only made 14 saves, plenty were on grade-A scoring chances, allowing Berube to flash his best asset, an incredibly fast glove hand.
Jeff Schultz has been held out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury and could make his return soon, though nothing has been confirmed.
As expected, Andy Tonge noted that Nick Shore was a little rusty after missing time due to illness but should become the team's leading scorer again if he finds his game quickly.
Jon Rosen also has some notes and quotes from Kings Senior Advisor/Development Coach Mike O’Connell and Stothers.
Getting so close to #gametime!!! #AllHandsOnDeck pic.twitter.com/ZlXTrquV5t— Portland Pirates (@PortlandPirates) April 23, 2015
.@MikeMcKenna56 leads @PortlandPirates out for Game 1 warm-up. @PortlandPirates #AllHandsOnDeck #MCHvsPOR pic.twitter.com/CNBJKFKK2S— Jeff Mannix (@JeffMannix) April 23, 2015
Snapshots from the first period! ( @mikepmcs) pic.twitter.com/nnWTDfD5Wa— Portland Pirates (@PortlandPirates) April 23, 2015
@PortlandPirates keep your heads up boys! You got this on Saturday pic.twitter.com/QvAaaRmHmE— Michael McSweeney (@mikepmcs) April 24, 2015
@pnltbx couple more for you special. :) @PortlandPirates @WathierIsabel pic.twitter.com/blPFhPyLMs— Michael McSweeney (@mikepmcs) April 24, 2015
The Monarchs and Pirates return to the Verizon Wireless Center in the heart of Manchester for Game 2 on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET. They'll make the 95 mile trip north to the Cross Insurance Arena for an early evening game on Sunday, take a short break and then resume play again next Thursday.
|Saturday Apr. 25, 2015||Pirates||Monarchs||7:00 PM||Pirates (0) - Monarchs (0)|
|Sunday Apr. 26, 2015||Monarchs||Pirates||5:00 PM||Monarchs (0) - Pirates (0)|
|Thursday Apr. 30, 2015||Monarchs||Pirates||7:00 PM||Monarchs (0) - Pirates (0)
Be sure to follow Jeff Mannix (@JeffMannix) and Andy Tonge (@AndyTonge1) for all up-to-the-moment updates on the game.