I have the 2nd edition Dungeon Master Guide 1995 printing and the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual Book (not binder) 1994 printing. I can't find the a table with monster level like 1st edition had. Is it buried in these books somewhere? If so where? If not, what book or supplement has them?
The first edition Monster Manuals don't have a "table with monster level" - you are probably thinking of the random encounter tables from the 1e DMG Appendix C. Similarly, the random encounter tables are not found in the monster books themselves in 2e. In 2e, the DMG (Chapter 11) teaches you how to create random encounter tables rather than, frankly bizarrely, having one that applies anywhere, anytime - this replaces the stock tables in the 1e DMG.
Now. in the 2e Monstrous Manual they do have leveled Monster Summoning tables, which are similar. But none of those tables, 1e or 2e, included every monster - if you are looking for general power you have HD and eyeballing special abilities, that's it. Strict balance of encounters is not part of the 1e/2e playstyle. And you create your own random tables given what you want to populate that region/dungeon with.
I always go by "Hit Dice". For example, a skeleton has a "Hit Die" of 1. Meaning it's a 1st level creature.
I also determine this for their health. In the book it references anything that just says hit dice (and not specifying health points) you use a d8 for their health. So if I wanted to roll for a 3 h.d. creature, I can have a max health of 24. I use my rule with this game and use a d10. Makes it a little tougher on my players. Of course if it says "H.D. 3 + 4" that means 3 hit dice and add 4 points.
I know there's a table in a monster compendium that provides random monsters based on terrain. Then as mention I have used hit dice as general challenge rating for what the party can fight, and adjust according to your groups skill level.