Some AHL teams are preparing for their 20th game of the season.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Monsters are preparing for only their 10th game of the season, and Thursday's home game for the Columbus Blue Jackets' AHL affiliate will be the first of three games in four nights against the Texas Stars.
The gradual start was, for the most part, by design; the Monsters have had just one game postponed due to COVID-19, and have only 28 games scheduled this season. Other teams have as many as 44 on the schedule, with most playing between 32 and 38 games.
Much like their big-league counterpart, the Monsters have started the season in a very pedestrian way; they're 4-4-1, and the season has been a near-wash on the scoreboard: Cleveland has allowed only one more goal (30) than they've scored (29) to date.
Here's the latest from Quicken Loans Arena:
- If he can mature his game to an NHL level, the Blue Jackets may be onto something in Trey Fix-Wolansky. The 21-year-old is undersized, at 5'7", but is crafty with the puck and has been a weapon for the Monsters top power play unit so far: Fix-Wolansky has four goals, and all four have come on the man-advantage. With five assists, the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native has been a point-a-game player through the first nine games. Watch him bury the rebound for the first of two power play goals in a recent game against the Rockford Ice Hogs:
- If the Blue Jackets fall out of playoff contention or if injuries force their hand, don't be entirely shocked if defenseman Dillon Simpson gets a surprise game or two in Columbus later in the season. Simpson, 28, is an alternate captain in Cleveland this season, and has three goals and four assists to start the year.
- Former Ohio State Buckeye Carson Meyer has five points in his first six games in the AHL; the Powell native has two goals and three assists.
- The Monsters have an interesting match-up on the way, with a three game set against the Dallas Stars affiliate, the Texas Stars. Texas is 8-4-2 on the season, and often gets into track meets with the opposition: in 14 games this season, the Stars and their opposition have combined to score (and allow) at least two goals in 13 of the 14 games. They've given up nine first period goals in just the past three games, so Cleveland can hope to score early and often for the homestand.