By Mike Miccoli
|Tyler Toffoli's recent demotion back to Manchester may not be what he was hoping for in his standout rookie season, but he didn't let it stop him from producing for the Monarchs upon his return. (Getty Images)|
He hasn’t skated in an AHL game since Oct. 26, but it was for a good reason. Once considered a candidate for the Calder Trophy, Tyler Toffoli was assigned to Manchester from the Los Angeles Kings this past week after registering nine goals and eight assists for 17 points in his 33 games with the team. Though the demotion may be frustrating for the promising rookie, he showed this week that he’s still a notch above in the AHL.
After not recording any points with five shots on goal on Friday night’s loss against the St. John’s IceCaps, Toffoli bounced back in a big way the next night with a natural hat trick and an assist in the Monarchs win. It was his third multi-goal game for Manchester, all of which have come in his last five games played, dating back to Oct. 23.
It’s no secret that Toffoli makes the players in Manchester better, too. Winger Jordan Weal assisted on all three of Toffoli’s goals, including two that came on the power play. His chemistry with Linden Vey paid dividends too, after he was recalled by Los Angeles.
If Toffoli’s play is any indication of his future, it’d be tough to leave him off the Los Angeles roster going forward. While the Kings do have a deep forward lineup, his slot on the third line may only be an indication of what Toffoli is capable of.
1) Springfield Falcons (27-8-1-3): Though they have come close before, this week marks the first time that the Falcons have overtaken the Monarchs for top seed in the Eastern Conference. Springfield did it dramatic fashion, too. First, a shootout win against the Pirates and then coming from behind and scoring four third period goals to beat the Bruins on Saturday. (Last week: 2-0, #2)
2) Manchester Monarchs (26-11-2-4): The Monarchs will officially begin life without Martin Jones now that the goaltender is assuming backup duties for Los Angeles with Ben Scrivens traded. The bad news? They were embarrassed by a weakened St. John’s team on Friday night. The good news? They bounced back the following night behind a Jean-Francois Berube 28-save shutout. That’s one way to stake your claim as the new starter. (Last week: 1-1, #1)
3) Providence Bruins (21-15-1-5): It was a Jekyll & Hyde weekend for the P-Bruins, who began the week by beating the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-1. But after a great goaltending performance from Niklas Svedberg and goals from five different players, they couldn’t hold the lead against the Falcons on Saturday and lost again to the Penguins on Sunday. Back to the drawing board. (Last week: 1-2, #3)
4) Worcester Sharks (18-15-3-1): The Sharks matched a season-high four-game win streak with a gutsy shootout victory over the Norfolk Admirals on Friday but couldn’t manage to score once in the rematch on Saturday. A bit concerning, since it’s the fourth time in a month that the Sharks were held without a goal. (Last week: 1-1, #4)
5) Portland Pirates (15-15-1-6): Is rookie winger Lucas Lessio the key to the Pirates’ success? Perhaps. The Pirates have points in seven of the nine games where Lessio put one home. He added two more goals to his rookie campaign on Friday night in Portland’s shootout loss to Springfield. (Last week: 0-1-0-1, #5)
6) Bridgeport Sound Tigers (15-22-1-4): Since Ryan Strome returned on loan from the Islanders, he has three assists, two of them coming in the Sound Tigers’ sole win of the week against the Wolfpack. In fact, their last two wins came against Hartford. (Last week: 1-2, #6)
7) Hartford Wolfpack (12-21-0-5): The Wolfpack finally earned their first win of 2014, snapping a six-game losing streak against the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday. Captain Aaron Johnson picked up three assists and newest addition David LeNeveu stopped 26 of 28 shots. The momentum was short-lived though, as the Wolfpack dropped their next game against the Sound Tigers. (Last week: 1-1, #7)
Games of the Week:
Friday, January 24:
Worcester Sharks @ Manchester Monarchs (7 p.m.)
St. John’s IceCaps @ Providence Bruins (7:05 p.m.)
Saturday, January 25:
Portland Pirates @ Manchester Monarchs (7 p.m.)
Sunday, January 26:
Portland Pirates @ Springfield Falcons (3 p.m.)
Syracuse Crunch @ Bridgeport Sound Tigers (5 p.m.)