The Manchester Monarchs’ New Year Slump

Nope, no need to adjust your monitors. You can also put down the phone and refrain from calling your local anti-zombie task force. I have indeed risen from the metaphorical grave after a long period of silence, but am very much alive and well. Where have I been? Read on, my friends.

My absence isn’t that I no longer attend Monarchs games. It isn’t that I’ve grown to love the Monarchs any less. It’s not that I don’t have any tidbits to share from the jungle. It’s certainly not that there haven’t been any nail-biting moments to wax poetic about.

I think the better people to ask about there whereabouts are the guys on the team roster.

After a slow start in October, the Monarchs racked up quite the record over the months of November and December, 8-2-0-1 and 7-3-0-1 respectively, which put them on the fast track to the top of their division. A rag-tag group of newbies and veterans finally seemed to have found their groove. Goal-tending was solid, defense was keeping the crease clear of shenanigans, and the snipers were firing on all cylinders. Since the clock struck 12:01 am on January 1st, oddly, that team has been missing.

In January, the guys have somehow given up a handful of games against teams that, on-paper, can’t even hold a candle to their talent. What’s wrong with the Monarchs? If I knew the answer to that question, I would feel obligated to share that with coach Morris so he can fix it. I am a fair-weather fan by no stretch of the imagination, but it is damn frustrating as a season ticket holder watching them tumble.

This past weekend, a very scary moment took place in a back-and-forth affair with division rival the Portland Pirates. In an unnecessary and reckless act, Pirates captain Dean Arsene drilled a streaking Robbie Czarnik just south of the blue line; spinning in the air, he was out cold before he hit the ice, his helmet popped off, and the arena fell silent. For what seemed like an eternity, the medics were out on the ice tending to the unconscious Monarchs winger. The stretcher came out and they carefully carted him off the ice as the crowd all stood and clapped.

When the same thing happened to Boston Bruins phenom Nathan Horton, the Bruins turned around what looked like an un-winnable series. It galvanized their resolve. For one hot minute, I thought maybe it would have the same effect on the struggling Monarchs.

Rather than turning it around though, they only fell farther behind and eventually lost the game (including a stinging empty-net goal). It was almost as though his condition was symbolic of their desire to win.

I’m hoping that this weekend the guys will be able to pull out a win in any of the three very tough games ahead – one against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and two against the Hershey Bears – but only time will tell. While they have record of 1-1-0 this season against the Penguins, this weekend’s back-to-back will be their first meeting with the 2011-2012 Bears.

But you know, not everything is all doom and gloom in the jungle. Although the team has had a hard time pulling together as a unit, there have been strong individual efforts. If you haven’t heard, Monarchs net-minder Jeff Zatkoff was named the Reebok/AHL goaltender of the month for the month of December. With the season in full-swing, Zats has been making big saves look easy. It’s this amazing effort that also got him nominated for the AHL All-Star team for the first time.

He will be joined in Atlantic City for the AHL All-Star festivities by feisty D-man Thomas Hickey who – at the time of his nomination – was leading the Monarchs with a plus-11 rating.

The new players who were signed in the absence of Loktionov and Voynov (still on-loan to your Kings), J.D. Watt and Chris Cloud, have both been making positive contributions. Watt has recorded 1 goal, 1 assist and 13 penalty minutes in 11 games, and Cloud has been stepping up as an unlikely enforcer, recording 19 penalty minutes in 8 games. The Monarchs’ game has always been underlined by gritty play and intimidation. To that end, these two are fitting right in.

So what lies ahead for the Monarchs? One of my fellow season ticket holders said something to me after the team’s loss on Sunday against the Pirates that reminded me of a fact I had forgotten. The last time the Monarchs lost 5 or 6 straight games, they went on to win 8 or 9 straight.

Is a rebound streak like that on the horizon?

I sure as heck hope so!

Go Monarchs!

Categories: L.A. Kings News

Tags: , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Welcome back. The Monarchs surprisingly have no scorers in the top of the AHL in scoring. Kings have been struggling for years to develope any scorers, and actually have 2 of your better offensive players here with us this season.

    I have wondered how you Manchesterfans felt about losing Voynov, and Lokti to the Kings. It’s got to be bittersweet to see them make it to the NHL, but lose them on your roster.

    Hope that things can pick up for you guys out there, because your success is our success. Keep us informed.

  2. Any news on Czarnik, he’s been on the top of my prospect list, and this incident has me really concerned

  3. @Dominick: Thanks for the salutations and for reading! I know there are a lot of fans in the stands that were pretty bummed about Slava and Lokti’s stay up in LA becoming somewhat extended. I think if you ask most of them (myself included), they’re happy to see the guys get their shot at the big-time. It’s even more awesome that they’re making the best of it. Lokti’s always been active on the puck and Slava’s always had a bomb of a shot from the point. Never understood why he didn’t compete in the hardest shot competitions the years he made it to the AHL All-Star weekend.

    @Hit to the Head: I don’t know much other than what the Monarchs front office has publicized. All I can say is in a post on the Monarchs Facebook page the day after his incident, they said “Robbie went home last night and is on the road to recovery.”

    I imagine he’ll miss a few games before he’s cleared, but it was good to hear that he wasn’t at the hospital for an extended period of time. It was probably the scariest incident I have ever seen first-hand.

    Us Monarchs/Kings fans can at least take solace in the fact that Arsene’s actions didn’t go unpunished; the AHL levied a 4 game suspension on him for it. Serves him right. Those kinds of dirty hits have no place in the game!

    • Thanks for your time. How has Nic Deslaurier looked so far? Also Vey?

      • Nic has actually looked better and better as the season moves along. He recorded his first professional goal in one of the last home games, as a matter of fact.

        At first I didn’t really know what to make of his play – he made a lot of rookie mistakes early on – but the more games he plays, I can see his confidence growing. I’m always talking to my friends at the games about how good his hands are playing heads-up. When he turns it on and has pep in his step, he can be pretty good.

        Vey I think still has to work on being more confident. He seems to hesitate on occasion when he has an opportunity to bring the puck up. He also seems to try and take the puck into traffic a lot; often he ends up having it poked away or his stick lifted. I applaud him for trying though. He has notched a handful of goals though just by staying aggressive when the Monarchs are on the attack and camping down around the net.

  4. I have watched Czarnik at the last 3 camps, and he has such explosive skating….
    He has been higher on my prospect list, than others, and I hope he can recover quickly and safely, and continue developing.

    We need Muzzin to be ready soon, also Nolan

    Keep us posted


  5. Great to hear Hickey’s progress is coming along


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