Despite dropping three of their last five games, the Cleveland Monsters go into another important weekend with eyes on a playoff position.
They're just on the outskirts of the Western Conference's final spot based on points percentage (.538) but got a big road win in Milwaukee on Tuesday night that kept them in the mix.
The Monsters can unpack their bags and get comfortable, because they begin a stretch of six of their next eight games at Quicken Loans Arena starting Thursday against the Chicago Wolves.
And if they have eyes on the postseason, getting wins - particularly on home ice - against division opponents is a sure-fire way to make up ground.
The Wolves are one of the teams ahead of Cleveland in the standings, and as of Wednesday, the Monsters had five games in hand (44 to 39) on Chicago. This is a prime opportunity to pick up points and climb the ladder in the Central; it's not uncommon in the American Hockey League, particularly in the second half, but the Monsters play their next 19 games against division foes.
Justin Scott, Alex Broadhurst, John Ramage and Shawn Szydlowski scored goals for the Monsters on Tuesday while Anton Forsberg made 30 saves, picking up his 13th win of the season for Cleveland.
Other Monsters notes:
- Cleveland will have three representatives at the AHL All-Star Classic in Allentown later this month: Oliver Bjorkstrand, Ryan Craig and Forsberg are scheduled to be part of the midseason festivities for the Central Division, which is the reigning champion of the event.
- SportsTime Ohio announced it will air both the AHL All-Star Skills Competition and the All-Star Classic. The Skills Competition takes place Sunday, Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. while the game is slated for 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, are hosting the events at the PPL Center in downtown Allentown.
- With Joonas Korpisalo handling the backup goaltending duties in Columbus for the time being, the Monsters are using a tandem of Forsberg and veteran Brad Thiessen. Thiessen was spectacular in his most recent start, a 32-save shutout of the Rockford IceHogs last Friday night, to pick up his first AHL win of the season.