Dear Iowa: Look away. Viktor Arvidsson is coming. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
I’m not sure if I want to tempt fate by saying this -but- after the Milwaukee Admirals have suffered two pretty rough results it is pleasant that we’ll be seeing a team like the Iowa Wild tonight. They are entering this game on a seven game losing streak and are the worst team in the AHL by a firm 10 points. What could possibly go wrong?
10/17/14 @ Iowa: W, 4-3
10/18/14 @ Iowa: W, 4-0
10/29/14 vs. Iowa: L, 4-2
11/12/14 vs. Iowa: L, 3-2
11/23/14 @ Iowa: L, 2-1 (SO)
12/29/14 @ Iowa: L, 3-2 (OT)
1/23/15 vs. Iowa: W, 4-3
Yeah, it’s not been a kind head-to-head at all. In fact I would go as far to say that the Wild look on par with the Admirals each and every time we’ve seen them play this season. So odd considering their 17-36-1-1 (36 points) record. It wasn’t until last time out that the Admirals managed to beat the Wild on home ice and, even then, it was a tight contest.
~The Current Run of Form~
This seven game losing streak that the Wild are on right now matches the one that the Admirals had back in December. Fortunately for them, the top honor for a losing streak is still out of reach. The Toronto Marlies had a nine game losing streak in November.
During the losing streak the Wild have been outscored 25-11, their power-play has gone 5.3% (1/19), and their penalty kill has gone 78.9% (15/19). They have been onwards and upwards in shots per game though: averaging 31 shots per game in the losing streak while allowing an average of 27 shots per game.
When looking in net during this time you’ll have seen three different goalies: Darcy Kuemper, John Curry, and Johan Gustafsson. Kuemper has since been brought back up to the Minnesota Wild leaving the usual tandem of Gustafsson and Curry for Iowa.
The team that has given the Admirals some problems here and there will be without some key figures on the ice tonight. Injuries up top have meant Iowa have lost out on players such as Michael Keränen, Jordan Schroeder, Matt Dumba, and their team captain this season Stéphane Veilleux.
Not having Schroeder and Keränen is pretty big in this match-up. Schroeder leads the Wild in scoring against the Admirals this season with 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists). Keränen has had 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists). This will mean big nights required for Tyler Graovac, Zack Mitchell, and Danny Syvret.
~The Admirals End of the Equation~
Ian White missed the last game due to the loss of his grandmother. This meant Mike Liambas stepping into an old role he hadn’t played in a long time, defense. He looked actually pretty good back there but I’m sure the team would prefer keeping a core of six defensemen. I’m not certain on White’s status heading into this game but, with Mike Santorelli and Cody Franson now with the Nashville Predators, there is a good chance that Anthony Bitetto should be set to re-join the ranks soon enough. Perhaps even by 7pm tonight enough. That would be a nice addition as Bitetto’s 7 assists against the Wild lead the Admirals in head-to-head scoring.
Speaking of which, Viktor Arvidsson may have only seen this Wild team 7 times this season but he has scored 6 goals against them – including a hat trick. Austin Watson follows him up in head-to-head scoring with 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists).
Colton Sissons‘ current scoring binge has been huge. If you were looking for players to step up following Brendan Leipsic‘s trade out to Toronto take a gander at the work of Sissons of late. Since the calendar turned to 2015 Sissons has produced 17 points (11 goals, 6 assists) in 21 games.
Another name that’s stepping up since the Leipsic trade is Kevin Fiala. Why? A combination of his comfort level improving and him being directly slotted into Leipsic’s role on the ice. He’s getting solid power-play time on Leipsic’s spot on the right wing half-wall and has 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in his last three games.
In net against the Wild this season it has been all Marek Mazanec. The Czech has played seven games against Iowa to the lone appearance by Magnus Hellberg. Mazanec has a 2.50 goals against average, 0.911 save percentage, and a shutout. Hellberg’s lone game against the Wild resulted in an 18/19 save performance in an overtime loss.
I’ll be attending morning skate ahead of today’s game. It’s at 8:30am at the MSOE Kern Center – which means open to the public. There will be no Frédérick Gaudreau in attendance as he was returned to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL since last game. Expect an update on line combinations and other ramblings prior to puck drop tonight.
Practice this morning was optional and only Johan Alm, Jimmy Oligny, and a single netminder – Hellberg – participated. White will not be with the team tonight and nor will Bitetto. This means another game with Liambas on defense.
Expectations for tonight’s game? Why have the Iowa Wild played the Admirals so tightly this season?
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