Monsters, Marlies to Close Season Series

On the heels of four straight games without a win, the Lake Erie Monsters (32-27-3-5) have their second date in four days against the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies (37-22-4-3). The two teams will conclude the 10-game season series at Quicken Loans Arena tonight with a 7:30 opening faceoff, and all the action can be heard live on AM 1220 WHKW and seen live on FOX Sports Ohio. The Marlies have wins in their last three games against the Monsters, while the Monsters had a four-game winning streak of their own against Toronto in the early part of the season. The Monsters are 4-4-0-1 against Toronto overall this season in nine games leading up to this evening.

The Monsters are 0-2-1-1 over their last four games, and with just nine games remaining including tonight’s contest, it goes without saying that every game is a must win for a Lake Erie club that entered Saturday with 72 points, and in the 10th spot in the Western Conference. The Monsters have a four-point cushion over 11th place Milwaukee, and are a point back of both eighth-place Rochester and ninth-place San Antonio. The Monsters need some help from their rivals around the conference, however, as the one statistic that really stacks against the Monsters is that as of today, they have at least one more game played (67) than every other team in the Western Conference, and have actually played four more games than the Milwaukee Admirals, whose 63 games played stands as the fewest in the conference. A win over Toronto tonight, and a bit of assistance, could launch the Monsters back into the top-eight with eight games remaining.

Cedrick Desjardins has allowed two or fewer goals in three consecutive starts, but the Monsters have just a 0-2-0-1 record to show for the three games; all of which were against the Chicago Wolves and tonight’s opponent, Toronto. The Monsters have scored just four goals over their last three games, and will need to do all they can to create chances against a soundly defensive Toronto club that boasts one of the top goaltenders in the league in Ben Scrivens, as well as the league’s top penalty kill unit. Brad Malone has two goals and six points over his last six games, and Greg Mauldin has goals in three-of-five games; they will be heavily relied upon by the Monsters offensively this evening.

Toronto is slightly undermanned after seeing two of their key forwards- Nazem Kadri and Ryan Hamilton- called up by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Without both of them, Toronto’s offense receives a bit of a blow, but there are still plenty of capable scorers in the lineup. Jerry D’Amigo has 10 of his 37 points this season in the nine games he has played against the Monsters. Joe Colborne is also at a point-per-game in nine games against the Monsters this season.

The Monsters remain at home through Tuesday when they meet the Texas Stars, but need to continue to stockpile as many points as possible beginning with tonight’s game against Toronto. It’s “Pink the Rink” night at Quicken Loans Arena this evening when the Monsters meet their division rivals at 7:30 PM.

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