When we last checked in on the Cleveland Monsters, they were off to a great start due to strong goaltending. In the five games since, the goaltending and the defense have come back down to earth.
The Monsters allowed 16 goals in their first seven games of the season. In their last five they have allowed 24. They had a couple bad losses, losing 6-2 to Chicago and last night losing 8-4 to Grand Rapids. But the Monsters have maintained their second place standing in the North Division, as they were able to outscore some of their defensive woes including a 7-6 shootout win over the Toronto Marlies.
Zac Dalpe continues to tear through the league. He had four points against the Marlies on Friday and then had another four-point game against Grand Rapids on Sunday. An eight point weekend gives him 19 points in 12 games and he's currently the AHL's outright scoring leader.
His goal scoring has been remarkable, with 12 goals already this season, surpassing the 11 he had last year. His 31.6% shooting percentage is unsustainably high but Dalpe has done well this season at taking his shots from scoring areas. Check out the highlights from his hat-trick on Friday:
Zac Dalpe earned his hats tonight!— Cleveland Monsters (@monstershockey) November 3, 2018
Here's how pic.twitter.com/qylVeLw7MW
All three goals are high-danger chances. He’s getting himself into the slot and is being rewarded. Dalpe isn’t going to be a savior, but with the Jackets' inconsistencies this season you have to wonder if they give Dalpe a shot sooner than later. His play thus far has earned him a chance.
After a little bit of a slow stretch in the middle of October, Eric Robinson is back and putting up points. He has points in five of his last six games, including a three-point effort in that game against Toronto. He’s been a point per game player and is playing his way into being an NHL prospect.
Others playing well include a couple veterans in Nathan Gerbe and Mark Letestu. Gerbe has nine points in 12 games, while Letestu has seven in nine, with five goals. They both provide the Jackets with some decent forward depth should injuries strike. Letestu’s play has been a pleasant surprise; he was not very good for the Blue Jackets last season. At 33 years old, you maybe wondered if his time in the NHL was done, but his play thus far shows he’s not done and is another player who could find himself back in Columbus at some point this season.
In other prospect news, the CIBC Canada-Russia Series begins tonight out west. Trey Fix-Wolansky and Team Canada take on Kirill Marchenko, Daniil Tarasov and Team Russia. This is a great chance to see some Blue Jackets prospects that otherwise you might not get a chance to. The game gets underway at 10 p.m. ET.
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