Monsters in Hamilton Tonight

Despite the fact that tonight’s game is only the 14th game of the season- the Monsters are just a couple games past the 1/6 point of the season- tonight’s game in Hamilton carries a lot of importance. The Monsters have dropped two in a row, and tonight will take on the only North Division foe they haven’t seen to this point.

And the two teams bear some similarities. They have the same point total, and they are both coming off two-goal losses to Houston, one of the league’s hottest teams. The Bulldogs and Aeros did battle last night in Hamilton, with the Bulldogs falling 4-2. Both teams will be looking to return to the winning side of things, and the Monsters enter tonight as the better-rested bunch.

Despite Thursday’s loss, the Monsters saw the return of a pair of key offensive contributors. David van der Gulik missed four games with flu symptoms, and posted a goal and an assist in his last game to vault him up to nine points in his first eight games this season. Hugh Jessiman returned from a four-game suspension to net a pair of goals. Center Mike Carman, yet to see action, is on the team’s current trip to Hamilton, and is available. As of morning skate, Coach David Quinn says he’ll be in the lineup. After morning skate, Carman said, “I’m ready to go.”

Some sub-plots in tonight’s game: Cedrick Desjardins returns to Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, where he saw action in parts of four seasons from 2006-07 to 2009-10. Also, Hamilton is currently led by veteran forward Brian Willsie on offense; a former Monster who potted his first goal of the season last night. Willsie is tied for the Bulldogs lead in points entering tonight.

Another Hamilton player to watch: Louis LeBlanc. The former first-rounder of the Montreal Canadiens starred for Harvard in one NCAA season in 2009-10, before moving to the QMJHL last season. After an injury to start the season, the forward’s professional career is underway.

The key stat to watch for tonight: the Monsters are unbeaten in regulation (3-0-1-0) when at least one defenseman scores a goal. In games in which the defensemen are held out of the goal column, the Monsters are 1-8-0-0. Their chief responsibility is to prevent opponents from scoring; not to light up the scoreboard. However, the Monsters possess defensemen who are capable of offensive production, and when they score, it usually translates into wins; especially during the times this season when the club has had to endure injuries and suspensions to key forwards.

Monsters broadcaster Doug Plagens takes us On the Road (presented by South East Harley-Davidson) inside Copps Coliseum in Hamilton:

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