Bruins 3, Monarchs 2 (OT)

Pascal Pelletier scored 9:01 into overtime as Providence beat Manchester 3-2 in the first game of the best-of-seven first round series in the AHL playoffs. Petr Kanko scored with just over five minutes left in the first period to give the Monarchs a 1-0 lead, and after two Providence goals (one shorthanded), the Monarchs tied the game when Matt Moulson scored a power-play goal 9:30 into the third period. Jonathan Bernier played in goal for the Monarchs and stopped 34 of 37 shots. Tonight’s game was played in Providence. The Bruins also host Game 2 on Friday.

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Manchester-Providence preview

Game 1 of the first-round AHL playoff series between Manchester and Providence starts just after 4 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. local time). The Monarchs, who finished fourth in their division, face the Bruins, who finished first. The Monarchs coach is indicating that Brian Boyle might return sometime during the series, but that seems vague. A key to the series could be whether Phil Kessel shows up. Kessel has been a healthy scratch for the Boston Bruins put could end up on the Providence roster at some point.

There’s a webcast of the game, but you have to shell out $6 to watch it. Seems as though there might be free audio on the Monarchs’ site, but I can’t be 100 percent certain of that. Here’s a couple preview stories from the two local papers:

Manchester Union-Leader: Monarchs prepped for playoff test

Providence Journal: P-Bruins are riding wave into playoffs

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Player evaluation: Johnson



This season: 74 games, 3 goals, 8 assists, minus-19 rating.

Positives: Came into the NHL with tremendous hype that was almost impossible to live up to, but still managed a solid rookie season, particularly for a player who had never taken a shift above the college level unti late last season. Johnson clearly has the size, skating ability and physical instincts to be an impact defenseman, and he showed that at times this season.

Negatives: Again, expectations were high. Johnson was hyped as a Calder Trophy favorite heading into the season and never really came close to reaching that level. He admitted, late in the season, that not until the final month (before his broken foot) did he start to feel totally comfortable on the ice. The offensive instincts he showed at Michigan still need to emerge at the NHL level.

Looking ahead: There’s certainly no hand-wringing among Kings management about Johnson. He’s still considered a future franchise defenseman and he’s starting to develop the type of leadership skills that could make him a team captain one day. With expected development, he should take a major step forward next season.

Contract situation: Signed through 2008-09 (cap number of $2.15 million next season).

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Player evaluation: Harrold



This season: 25 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, plus-3 rating.

Positives: Hasn’t made any dramatic improvements, but is slowly and surely establishing himself as an NHL defenseman with a solid all-around game. Harrold has displayed good puck movement in the defensive zone during his limited time in the NHL and totaled 43 points in 49 games with Manchester this season, so he has some offensive upside.

Negatives: Size and speed are two of the drawbacks in Harrold’s game, but they won’t prevent him from being an NHL player. He could stand to get a little stronger, which would help the team’s overall toughness, and as he gets more experience, he should be better prepared to deal with the speed of the NHL game.

Looking ahead: Harrold seems likely, in the long term, to settle in as a fourth or fifth defenseman. With Johnson and Visnovsky already in the fold, the Kings need to sign or trade for at least one more strong defenseman to take some of the pressure off Harrold and allow him to thrive as he continues to develop.

Contract situation: Restricted free agent.

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Player evaluation: Dallman



This season: 34 games, 3 goals, 4 assists, plus-4 rating.

Positives: The very definition of a role player, Dallman can step in after being scratched for a handful of consecutive games and play either center or defense. Never a flashy player, Dallman has solid puck-moving skills and some offensive skills. Managed a plus-4 rating.

Negatives: Dallman’s size is considered a negative on defense, and he just can’t seem to “wow” the coaching staff enough to earn a regular place in the lineup. More often than not, coaches chose Jon Klemm to fill a similar role.

Looking ahead: It’s not unreasonable to think the Kings might re-sign Dallman in a seventh-defenseman role, especially since Klemm is 38 years old and since Dallman is well-liked by the Kings’ younger players. Whether he can ever shed that “spare defenseman” label is another matter.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

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Player evaluation: Blake



This season: 71 games, 9 goals, 22 assists, minus-19 rating

Positives: At times this season, Blake was the Kings’ best defenseman. A slow start, mostly caused by his recovery from offseason hip surgery, gave way to a period of strong hockey, which Blake was unable to maintain, in part, because of other nagging injuries. When healthy, Blake remains a strong physical presence on a team that lacks physical defensemen.

Negatives: Not uncommon for 38-year-old players, Blake is injury-prone and slowing down. He didn’t come close to giving the Kings $6-million worth, but that contract was the Kings’ fault, not his. Still plays well in spurts, but might no longer have the energy to maintain it for an entire season.

Looking ahead: Despite some uncertain moments during the season, on both sides, it seems as though Blake would like to return to the Kings and that the Kings would like to sign him to a short-term contract, far below the $6 million he made in each of the last two seasons. Blake still has some value, particularly as the Kings attempt to work in a new, young crop of defensemen.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

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Player evaluation: Zeiler

Here’s the last of the forwards. We’ll tackle the defensemen next…




This season: 36 games, 0 goals, 1 assist, minus-6 rating.

Positives: Zeiler’s value comes in his ability to work hard in the corners, deliver hits, provoke opponents into penalties and play a responsible defensive game. He came out of relative anonymity in 2006-07 to earn a multi-year contract, and his value to the Kings clearly comes in an energy-line role.

Negatives: After an impressive 23-game stint in 2006-07, Zeiler signed a four-year contract and was on a two-way deal this season. He seemed set to hold down a regular role as a fourth-line winger, but never really got it going with the Kings even though he played almost a half a season in the NHL. His sophomore year lacked the same spark.

Looking ahead: Zeiler seemed to take a bit of a step backward this season, but with a salary of just over $500,000, he’s a cheap and steady option in an energy-line role. Again, there should be considerable competition for those roles, so Zeiler’s presence on the Kings’ roster next season is far from certain.

Contract situation: Signed through 2010-11 (cap number of $543,750 next season).

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