Wolves: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Ross DettmanChicago Wolves)

Expect to see a lot of “stick on puck” action tonight. The Amtrak Rivalry features two defenses that trump the best of offenses. (Photo Credit: Ross DettmanChicago Wolves)

With the incredible start for both the Milwaukee Admirals and the Rockford IceHogs it is almost lost that the Chicago Wolves have been having just as good of a start. They are ranked second in the Midwest Division, ahead of the Ads, and fourth in the Western Conference with a record of 10-4-2-0 (22 points) from 16 games.

Speaking of games played. The Admirals, and Grand Rapids Griffins, have played the fewest amount of games in the entire league to this point: 13 games. The Ads are buckling in for their first three-in-three of the season. They have three of these bad boys this season as opposed to eight last season. This weekend sees a bit of trekking, as well. It starts tonight in Milwaukee (vs. Chicago), then a trip down to Rockford on Saturday, before a late evening game in Iowa on Sunday.

Should be not only a great test for the Ads this weekend but a good way to get the games finally rolling. Right after Sunday’s game there will be a Wednesday scrap with the game team we get tonight, the Amtrak Rivals.

~Chatterbox Special~

Yesterday morning I made it out to the rink for practice and caught up with head coach Dean Evason. I’m currently in the process of a Magnus Hellberg feature story, due up here some time next week, but I figured I’d also ask Dean about this coming weekend’s games.

Dean Evason Interview:

~Minding That Net~

Also, for a team that lost its rock Jake Allen from last season to this season, you might think the Wolves netminding would have taken a dent. It really hasn’t. Jordan Binnington has been having a great start to his rookie season with 5 wins from 8 games to go along with a 1.88 goals against average and a 0.924 save percentage.

Binnington has just about displaced Matt Climie at this point. The Wolves veteran goaltender has made only 3 starts from 9 games this month. In those games he has a win a 2 losses: 3.04 goals against average and a 0.906 save percentage. To boot, his career numbers against Milwaukee continued to be poor this season as he has taken 2 losses in 2 starts while allowing 3 goals in each game.

~See Goal, Score Goal~

There is only one team in the AHL that has scored more goals this season than the Wolves (56 goals in 16 games) and that’s the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (60 goals in 15 games) out in the Eastern Conference.

Ty Rattie is currently tied for the league lead in goals with Kris Newbury of the Hershey Bears with 10 goals. Rattie has twice as many goals as the next highest scoring Chicago Wolves player. Thing is, that would should be players because they have four players that have scored 5 goals already this season: Pat CannoneRob BordsonJeremy Welsh, and Shane Harper.

All this point production going on and you have Dmitrij Jaškin back on the Wolves roster after a 6 game stint with the St. Louis Blues came to an end a week ago.  In that NHL stint the lone offense he produced was a goal. So far with the Wolves he has played in 7 games and tallied 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) – including a goal and an assist sent he was returned to Chicago. Jaškin has yet to face the Ads this season but, last year, 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) from 6 games against Milwaukee.

What are your expectations for this three-in-three weekend? How many points can the Admirals have from these three games? With the three-in-three in mind – how would you rotate the goaltenders? …would you even rotate the goaltenders?

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 45

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CELLY! (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

After the Admirals fell 3-2 against the Iowa Wild did you expect the Milwaukee Admirals to do what they did this weekend? The Rockford IceHogs had only lost twice in regulation from thirteen games played prior to the weekend set with the Admirals. Then came the eight-game win streak snapper: 4-1 Admirals in Rockford. And tonight, coming back from a goal down at home, winning 2-1.

The IceHogs came into the weekend with a franchise best eight-game winning streak. After these two games they now have lost eight-straight games to the Milwaukee Admirals dating back to last season. Not only were these fantastic back-to-back wins for the Admirals. They didn’t allow the IceHogs to get to overtime and take points from them. It’s so early in this season that games like this are hard to gauge in importance in the grand scheme of the season… -but- it will be these two games that can do a world of confidence for the Ads now, later on in the season series, and these points gained can potentially be a difference at season’s end in a Midwest Division where every single point matters.

When you look at the Admirals and IceHogs I think there is a mirror reflection between the two teams. They play with pace. They are very sound on defense: jamming up passing and shooting lanes to make life easier on their big and talented netminders. It was such a joy watching these two teams lock up.

I’ve started to run out of superlatives to toss over to Magnus Hellberg‘s start to this season. What I notice the most that he is doing such a good job of is limiting rebound opportunities. It’s been rare for Hellberg to drop pucks. If it’s in smothering range – he’s got it. There haven’t been second or third chance opportunities for teams to catch him in a scramble – which makes his size a detriment rather than an advantage. He’s played calm. Let the game unfold before him rather than try to be aggressive in net. The result is five-wins in five-starts with an AHL best in goals against average (0.78) and save percentage (0.969).

After the game my post-game interviewing was rather limited. It was picture night so all players came out on the ice to interact with the fans. Rather than detract from that experience, I decided to stick with head coach Dean Evason and went to the visitors side of the locker room to chat with former-Admiral goaltender Scott Darling (who was called up to the NHL right after I talked with him). Here is what both had to say following Saturday night’s game.

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Admirals Sweep the Weekend, beat Rockford 2-1

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Colton Sissons may have delivered the check of the season tonight. More importantly, the Admirals picked up a second consecutive win over a red hot Rockford IceHogs team. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

 

The Admirals won 2-1 against the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night to narrow the gap in the Midwest Division to two-points between the top three teams. The Magnus Hellberg Show continued as the big Swede only allowed one-goal from twenty-nine shots. And the blue liners did the scoring tonight with both Garrett Noonan and Joe Piskula lighting the lamp.

“That is a good hockey team,” said head coach Dean Evason of the Rockford IceHogs. “Magnus definitely played great yesterday. And we weren’t very good today. Certainly early in the hockey game and he kept us in the hockey game. Allowed us to find our legs after the first period. He played as good as they played as of late.”

Tonight was the IceHogs turn to score the opener. The IceHogs had a power-play that just expired as T.J. Brennan passed off to the right wing circle for a Teuvo Teravainen one-timer that scorched through Magnus Hellberg. It’s his second goal of the season.

Then came the fisticuffs. Mike Liambas popped Brennan with a check behind Scott Darling’s net. This attracted the attention of Garret Ross and the two tied up. Liambas got bloodied a little bit in this tilt. That’s enough for me to give the edge in the fight card to Ross.

The fighting continued in the first period when Rich Clune and Cody Bass dropped the mitts. This bout had a heck of a Rock Em Sock Em Robots start. Plenty of punches landed flush and Clune ended up getting a take down to make it 1-1 in the fight department through twenty minutes.

In the second period we saw a Colton Sissons cast himself into the running for the biggest hit in the AHL this season. During his shift, Sissons was all over the place after requiring a new stick from the bench. Once he settled back in he had Dennis Rasmussen in his crosshairs. The IceHog defenseman was swooping in behind his own net with his head down and Sissons buried him.

“We’ve talked about [Sissons] a lot just being a pro but he has played a really heavy game as of late,” said Evason. “Stan [Drulia] just mentioned upstairs that it’s as heavy a game as he’s seen him play these last two. And they’re hard games.”

The direct result of the check was Sissons first career fight as a pro. Klas Dahlbeck instantly came to the aid of his defensive battery-mate. And the end result was two extra penalties on the Rockford d-man. Sadly, the Admirals failed to capitalize from the four-minutes worth of power-play time that followed the Sissons check and fight.

After several times of holding the puck too long, and passing instead of shooting, the Admirals finally found the back of the net. Garrett Noonan blistered a wrister against the grain, right wing to blocker side of Darling, to score his second goal of the season and equalize for the Ads – making it a 1-1 game through forty-minutes.

With 7:32 remaining in regulation the Admirals took their first lead of the game on the captain’s first goal of the season. Felix Girard fed Joe Piskula the puck and he hammered it first time from the right point. It belted on by Darling and the Ads went ahead 2-1. It’s Piskula’s first goal since 3/12/14 against the Iowa Wild… or was it?

“It wasn’t Piskula’s goal,” smiled former-Admiral netminder Scott Darling. “Just so he doesn’t get a big head. [Triston] Grant tipped it in.”

With Darling to the bench on for the extra attacker – the IceHogs pressed hard for a solid 1:45 of ice time. The Admirals were able to hold on and Magnus Hellberg was once again the man in the win column. He stopped twenty-eight of twenty-nine shots on goal to record his fifth win in five starts. He currently has an AHL best for goals against average (0.78) and save percentage (0.969).

“All weekend Magnus was solid,” said Darling. “He did his job but the guys were really good in front of him. The [Admiral] forwards were pretty dynamic. Miikka, it’s nice to have them on your team. It’s not as much fun to play against them.”

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Patrick Cehlin, Joe Pendenza, and Jonathan Diaby. Also, tonight the Milwaukee Admirals retired Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400” as their goal song. It was replaced with a song called “Slapshot” that is very familiar to those of you New York Rangers fans. The change came via player request. The next time we see these Rockford IceHogs will be on 11/22/14 in Rockford. The next home meeting between them isn’t until the start of December. I can’t wait for more of the same.

Has this weekend made you feel more confident in your 2014-15 Milwaukee Admirals? How important has the play in net from Magnus Hellberg been behind these two wins against Rockford?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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Admirals Tame the IceHogs, win 4-1

(Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // flickr)

Scott Darling just received his first loss of the 2014-15 AHL season courtesy of his former team. (Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // flickr)

The Admirals won 4-1 on the road against the Rockford IceHogs Friday night. Miikka Salomaki scored twice from the power-play and Taylor Aronson had a four-point night – including his first career AHL goal. All of this in front of yet another smooth night in net for Magnus Hellberg – his fourth win in four starts. The victory snaps a franchise best eight-game winning streak for the IceHogs. The rematch is all set for tomorrow night.

After a post-whistle slash by Ryan Schnell, delivered to Mike Liambas, the Admirals took the game’s opening power-play and picked up a first period lead. Taylor Aronson fed a pass off to the left wing circle for Viktor Arvidsson to one-time it on net. Former-Admiral goaltender Scott Darling kicked it out in front to traffic where Miikka Salomaki was able to push the puck across for his second goal of the season.

In the second period the Admirals extended their lead to two. Taylor Aronson scored his first career AHL goal through a long range wister from the right point. That puck had eyes through traffic and Darling to give the Ads a brief 2-0 cushion.

Rockford finally cracked the Admirals defense and Magnus Hellberg midway through the second period. Ville Pokka was able to pinch the puck and get the puck over to Mark McNeill who backhanded a feed for Phillip Danault on the one-timer. The Ads were sucked into the passer, McNeill, and failed to close down Danault – who had a clean look breaking in on goal down the hashmarks to score his third goal of the season.

It wouldn’t be a Midwest Division game without a fight, right? Anthony Bitetto and Ryan Hartman locked up just nine seconds of ice time after the IceHogs goal. More tugging and wrasslin’ than clean punches landed. Still, I give the win on my fight card to Bitetto (10) over Hartman (9).

The Admirals picked up another power-play goal from Salomaki in the third period to restore their two-goal advantage. The set up was very similar to their first power-play goal. Aronson slid a one-time feed for Arvidsson to hammer on net. Except, this time, Salomaki was able to redirect it right in front of Darling to record his third goal of the season.

Then, after stifling the IceHogs attempts to get an extra attacker on in the closing of this game, Arvidsson tacked on the empty netter to seal this game a 4-1. It’s Arvidsson’s fifth goal of the season. And, perhaps more impressively, it was the fourth point of the night for Aronson – who had only three assists entering tonight’s game.

Hellberg was again a vacuum for the Admirals. Rebounds were a rarity for him tonight. He stopped twenty-five of twenty-six shots on goal to improve to four wins from four starts on the season with a 0.73 goals against average and 0.970 save percentage. Interestingly enough, it was his first ever win against the IceHogs from nine tries. When your hot you’re hot, eh?

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Joe Pendenza, Patrick Cehlin, and Jimmy Oligny. The loss tonight for Scott Darling was his first of the season in the AHL. It was the first time in his career that he played against the Admirals.

Was this the best Admirals performance to date? Who is this Taylor Aronson and what did he do with the real one? Is it time for the Admirals to give Magnus Hellberg the steering wheel and guide the team in net?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // flickr)

Remember this Scott Darling guy? Me too! (Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs // flickr)

The Rockford IceHogs have been one of the best teams in the AHL to start the season. They are leading the Midwest Division and are second in the Western Conference with a 10-2-0-1 (21 points) record. Of those three defeats, one comes from the very scenario we have here tonight. The Admirals beat the IceHogs 3-2 on the road in what was their home and season opener.

Since then, losing hasn’t exactly been the norm for Rockford. The only other regulation loss they’ve suffered came at the hands of the Rochester Americans on the road, 3-2. The other defeat was in a shootout, 1-0, on the road against the Toronto Marlies. Three losses. Two in regulation. Both by one-goal. And the shootout loss saw neither team score until the first shootout attempts.

These guys have been darn near unstoppable and are currently riding an eight-game winning streak. They’ve scored 45 goals, allowed 28 goals, and have the second best goal differential, +17, as a result. The team leading them in that category? Chicago Wolves at +20. …is our division frighteningly good this season or what?

~Goaltending~

It’s hard to not see the results being laid down by the IceHogs and not give credit instantly to their first line of defense. Scott Darling, last year’s great story here in Milwaukee, has been incredible for Rockford: 5 games, 5 wins, 1.52 goals against average, and a 0.948 save percentage. He was the man the Chicago Blackhawks called upon early in the season when Corey Crawford went down for a little bit. Darling’s numbers kept doing even at the NHL level for his first ever look top-side: 3 starts, 2 wins, 1.98 goals against average, and a 0.933 save percentage.

In addition to Darling the IceHogs also have themselves an experienced and savvy veteran in Michael Leighton. The 33-year old has appeared in 9 games this season, had 5 wins, 2.32 goals against average, 0.917 save percentage, and has been in net for all of Rockford’s defeats this season. He was also pulled from a game on 11/4/14 against the Lake Erie Monsters after he allowed 4 goals from 14 shots. Mind you, each of the goals allowed in that game came directly from the power-play. Regardless, Darling came on and shut the door for a four-goals scored comeback to pick up the win. Yes, it has been that good for them this season.

The latest transaction for the IceHogs saw them recall goaltender Mac Carruth from the Indy Fuel of the ECHL. To the best of my knowledge – I don’t know of any injuries that have occurred to either Darling or Leighton. But, it’s rare that you see a team carrying three goaltenders without that being the case.

~Firing On All Cylinders~

The Admirals currently have three players that have 7 points or more on their roster: Brendan Leipsic, Austin Watson, and Viktor Arvidsson. The IceHogs have an absurd nine players with 7 or more points scored: Mark McNeill, Peter ReginPhillip DanaultJoakim NordstromMatt CareyGarret RossT.J. BrennanTeuvo Teravainen, and Kyle Cumiskey.

It’s not entirely one player. It’s not entirely one line. It has just been a consistent, night in and night out, effort from the IceHogs on how they generate offense. Only the Wolves (46) have scored more goals this season than the IceHogs (45). And, even then, we’re talking just one better.

~What Happened to the Insanity?~

When I hear the team name, Rockford IceHogs, what I tend to think about is something along the lines of thisthisthis… or especially THIS.

So far this season? The IceHogs rank 27th in the entire league with only 12.8 penalty minutes per game: 167 PIM in total this season over 13 games. Not only have the IceHogs defense and offense been playing very well. They’re no longer playing like a pack of wild pillagers anymore.

What are your expectations for this weekend’s away-home two-in-two with the Rockford IceHogs? Can we expect a different Admirals team than the one we saw lose to the Iowa Wild on Wednesday? Should we anticipate a match-up of Magnus Hellberg against Scott Darling in net for both games this weekend? And should we expect to see some nastiness come out as it did against the Grand Rapids Griffins? What are your scoreline predictions for both games this weekend?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 44

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The Iowa Wild won in the first game under new head coach John Torchetti. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Is there something about the Iowa Wild playing in Milwaukee? The Wild have only won three times from thirteen games this season. Twice they’ve managed to come to Milwaukee and outwork the Admirals. Going back to last season, the Wild won only two games in the head-to-head with the Ads from ten games. Where did those two wins take place you ask? Milwaukee.

I want to say that this was more a matter of the Wild playing a desperate hockey game, looking to impress their new head coach John Torchetti, and keeping defensively structured to avoid the Admirals forward lines to get a head of stream brewing. The Ads lost the lead thirty-seconds in. And lost the lead just thirty-eight seconds after gaining it back through the Mike Liambas goal festival in the second period.

The game certainly wasn’t out of reach for the Admirals by any means tonight. But tip your cap to the Wild for battling hard against the Ads in their own barn yet again. There’s lots to gain from defeats. Plenty to study and improve upon. I view tonight’s loss for the Admirals as a potential plus for this weekend’s big two-in-two against the Rockford IceHogs. Dust this one off. Learn from it. And get back to winning hockey this weekend.

After the 3-2 defeat to the Wild – I had the chance to speak with Dean Evason, Mike Liambas, Brendan Leipsic, and Marek Mazanec. Here is what they had to say following Wednesday’s game.

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Wild Wednesdays in Milwaukee, Ads lose to Iowa 3-2

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Yeah. It was like this tonight. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals lost 3-2 against the Iowa Wild Wednesday night. It took thirty-seconds for the Wild to get on the board tonight. Despite a brief Admirals lead in the second period, courtesy of Mike Liambas, it would be answered and bettered from the visitors. It is the Wild’s first win in five games. And their first win since the last time they played the Admirals, in Milwaukee, on Wednesday night.

“They played good,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason of the Iowa Wild. “We struggled getting pucks to the net. Getting pucks through. They blocked shots. They played a real good game. Give them more credit than giving our group negativity.”

In the last meeting between these two it was the Wild picking up the opening goal in the first three minutes of the game. Tonight it took them only thirty-seconds. Danny Syvret’s blast from the left point elevated all the way to the inside post of Marek Mazanec and beat him off the crossbar and down.

The rest of the first period was really well managed from the Wild. The brightest spot for the Admirals in the opening twenty may have been Anthony Bitetto plowing Zack Phillips through a pane of glass. The Wild forward was racing in on the forecheck when Bitetto polished him off. The glass didn’t shatter but the pane was knocked loose.

Hits kept coming from there and, after Johan Gustafsson was clipped around his cage, we saw a fight between Mike Liambas and Curt Gogol. This was of course in response to the goalie getting knocked over and the refs let this battle drag on a bit. Give the win to Liambas for at least getting the hat off his opponent – but I don’t think all that many punches landed flush.

In the second period, during a spell of one-minute and twenty seconds, there were two goals scored for the Admirals and an equalizing tally for the Wild to knot the game at 2-2.

Mike Liambas scored a rebounder after Rich Clune dinked a puck around the front of the Wild cage. Liambas had Gustafsson in scramble mode and he was nowhere close to stop the Admiral bruiser from popping in a backhander.

Liambas and Clune linked up again only forty-two seconds later. Clune delivered a perfect saucer pass to the center lane drive of Liambas. He made the redirect of the Clune pass look easy and the puck skipped out of reach of Gustafsson’s glove side for Liambas’ second goal inside a minute’s worth of play.

“It happened so fast,” said Mike Liambas. “I was pretty excited. Great plays by Clune both times. And Joe Pendenza working it down low.”

Then came the response for the Wild only thirty-eight seconds later. Marc Hagel was able to fire a pass to Tyler Graovac in the slot. From there, it was all a matter of getting a shot on net as quickly as possible from that prime scoring position. Graovac did just that by spinning a shot off that managed to find a hole through Mazanec for his second goal of the season.

“Momentum was shifted and we did a couple of bonehead things to allow them right in,” said Evason. “We should just be tight there and get pucks deep. We’re trying to make an offensive play and it bites us.”

Iowa wasn’t finished with scoring in the second period, either. Zack Phillips was able to pop home a rebound after a point shot was coughed out to him by Mazanec. It was the Wild’s second goal scored in four-minutes and three seconds of ice time and Phillips’ third of the season.

Despite a late push for the Admirals in the third period, with the extra attacker on in the final fifty-eight seconds, the Wild held off for the 3-2 final. It’s the team’s first win under new head coach John Torchetti. It breaks a losing streak of five-games that dates back to the last time the Wild played in Milwaukee.

Ramblings: Tonight saw the return of Pontus Åberg to the Milwaukee Admirals lineup. The young Swede missed the Ads previous three games after a collision with Viktor Stalberg the last time the team played the Iowa Wild in Milwaukee on 10/29/14. The scratches tonight included Jonathan Diaby, Frederick Gaudreau, and Patrick Cehlin – who is still on the comeback trail after off-season hip surgery.

Any concerns from the team losing to the Iowa Wild twice in a row at home now? Is this more a matter of the Wild winning than the Admirals losing? What do you make of Marek Mazanec’s performance tonight? Would you give him the net against the Rockford IceHogs this weekend? Is the AHL schedule, and the lack of games played to this point, hurting the Admirals form?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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Wild: Scouting the Enemy

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Corbin Baldwin is back with the Iowa Wild. When last we saw him he was making all sorts of friends here in Milwaukee. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

These guys, again? It is already the fourth time in eleven games this season that the Milwaukee Admirals will be playing against the Iowa Wild. In the previous three occasions the Ads won twice on the road by scores of 4-3 and 4-0. The most recently played game was on home ice and saw the Ads fall for the first time all season with a 4-2 defeat.

~Rewind~

Let’s go back and address the last game these two played considering it was only the third time in thirteen games, dating back to last season, that the Wild were able to get the better of the Admirals.

The Wild got onto the board inside the game’s opening three-minutes. How did they do it? By establishing a screen in front of Marek Mazanec and generating a one timer from the blue line for Jake Parenteau. Quick puck movement. Quicker shot. No vision in goal. With the chance to redirect the shot – which is precisely what Michael Keränen did as the man screening Mazanec.

Where I feel the game was lost for the Admirals was a four minute spell in the second period. Mark Van Guilder called for holding. Wild score on the power-play. Mike Liambas called for charging. Wild score on the power-play. Regardless of who you play (and remember – this last game was a match-up between the then best team in the AHL against the worst) when you allow for sustained attacking pressure you open yourself up to be scored on. Give any team a chance for continual power-play chances in a game and you’re going to get burnt. It’s what ended up costing the Admirals their first loss of the season two weeks ago. And it’s something they must avoid doing again tonight.

~New Coach~

This week’s news out of the AHL was that the Iowa Wild fired head coach Kurt Kleinendorst late Sunday night. The Wild are a league worst 2-10-0-0 (4 points) to start the season. Only one other team, the St. John’s IceCaps, have allowed more goals. The team is currently riding a five-game losing streak. While I question that the fault of the Wild really falls on their coaching staff. The change was made yesterday.

The Wild’s new head coach is John Torchetti. It’s a familiar face to the organization and voice on the bench considering he was this team’s head coach from 2011-13 when they were the Houston Aeros. In both of those seasons in charge Torchetti’s teams made it into the playoffs. During that time his Aeros went 3-2-2-1 against the Admirals.

Thoughts and expectations for tonight’s game against the Iowa Wild? Who do you see Dean Evason picking as the goaltender tonight? Should Pontus Åberg make his expected return to the Admirals lineup tonight… whose line should he join?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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What Happens in Milwaukee When Mike Fisher Returns

(Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon)

Mike Fisher scored 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 75 games for the Nashville Predators last season. He’s due to make his return from a ruptured achillies injury in two weeks time. (Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon)

David Poile, the General Manager of the Nashville Predators, was a guest on 102.5 The Game’s “Sports Night” yesterday afternoon. During his time on the air he made mention of two injury situations: Mike Fisher and Viktor Stålberg .

Let’s start with the latter of those two – seeing as we were witness to that injury here in Milwaukee. Poile stated the following on Stålberg:

“Talk about not getting any breaks. In two years, two training camps in a row, where he has virtually missed entire training camps. Got off to a slow start last year and then it resulted in him being scratched, etc etc. So we had our hopes up high this year that everything would be great. Misses training camp again. Goes down to Milwaukee. He’s playing pretty good. Last game he gets hurt. Met with him today. Looks like it’s going to be 4-6 weeks, I think. He’s having an MRI today so we’ll know a little bit more. An update tomorrow. Again, just a real bad break for Viktor. Just not getting any traction here in Nashville.” ~ David Poile on Sports Night

We’ll be holding tight for those MRI results today and any sort of updates from Nashville. All things considered. If Stålberg escapes that hit with a knock that only leaves him out for 4-6 weeks – it’s fantastic news. The way that he went down, stayed down, and was assisted off the ice had me thinking he blew out ligaments in his knee. MRI results pending – that bullet hasn’t been dodged yet. Let’s hope Poile’s spot on there.

As for Fisher, Poile mentioned that his progress is close but he is still feeling stiffness in his achilles. The Predators alternate captain suffered a ruptured achilles during a training session and had successful surgery in early-July. Fisher has been practicing with the team and has just started contact practice. The plan is for him to return to the Nashville lineup in two-weeks.

So, what will Fisher’s eventual return to the Predators roster mean for the Milwaukee Admirals? Firstly, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Fisher had a short conditioning assignment with the Admirals to get him up to game speed. Difference between him and Stålberg? I don’t see Fisher’s stint lasting all of the fourteen days allotted for the conditioning assignment. That, by the way, is just my guess. For all I know – Fisher leaps right into NHL action once he gets cleared for game shape.

The real story here in Milwaukee is what roster shake up could take place when this all goes down. When Fisher comes back  off of injured reserve what will the Predators do?

When the time comes – I figure that the player with the highest chance of being assigned to the Admirals when Fisher comes back is Calle Järnkrok. Despite his incredible start in the organization last season… 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) in 6 games with the Admirals, 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 12 games with the Predators… it hasn’t quite translated into 2014-15 just yet.

Järnkrok has played in ten of the Predators fourteen-games this season. He has yet to record a point of offense while averaging 13:27 minutes of ice time per game. The only other forwards to have played as many or more games and not record a point of offense for the Predators are Olli Jokinen and Gabriel Bourque.

Milwaukee could use Järnkrok just as much as Järnkrok could use Milwaukee to springboard back into the form that saw him tearing up the scoresheet late last season.

The Admirals would grow stronger down the middle of their forward group and it could put a more offensive minded center on the third line with the flashy talents of Viktor Arvidsson – something they haven’t entirely got with either Félix Girard or Frédérick Gaudreau. That’s where Colton Sissons could jump in and get his game really rolling offensively. I believe the recent combo of Miikka Salomäki, Mark Van Guilder, and Austin Watson could and should stick around. And it could be that Järnkrok is surrounded by wingers Brendan Leipsic and Pontus Åberg.

When looking at CapGeek, and trying to understand the other possibilities, you just run to the conclusion that Järnkrok is due to arrive in Milwaukee once Fisher returns. Perhaps the other other consideration is that the Predators try to put Taylor Beck on waivers to see if he can reach the Admirals. With how Beck has played, especially in comparison to Järnkrok, I don’t feel the Predators are up for doing that. Besides, why risk losing a player when you don’t have to?

The undeniable thing right now to think about is just how deep the entire Nashville Predators organization has become this season at the forward position. The Predators are a success. The Admirals are a success. And, it may get to the point through depth, that we see more Admirals forwards head down to the Cincinnati Cyclones and make them a stronger team.

It’s all a matter of everyone staying healthy to create problems such as this. One better. When the injuries do happen, as they always do in hockey, the Predators are loaded for just such a scenario this season.

What will Mike Fisher’s return to the Nashville Predators mean for the Milwaukee Admirals? Is Calle Järnkrok the most likely candidate for a move down or could someone else get assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals?

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Brennan Evans Suspended For Stalberg Hit

(Photo Credit: griffinshockey // flickr)

(Photo Credit: griffinshockey // flickr)

The AHL has just announced that Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans will be suspended four-games as a result of the hit he delivered to Viktor Stålberg. The AHL described it as a “kneeing” incident.

Press Release via AHL:

The American Hockey League today announced that Grand Rapids Griffins defenseman Brennan Evans has been suspended for four (4) games as a consequence of a kneeing incident in a game at Milwaukee on Nov. 7.

Evans was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 28.1 (supplementary discipline).

Evans will miss Grand Rapids’ games Wednesday (Nov. 12) vs. Lake Erie, Friday (Nov. 14) vs. Texas, Saturday (Nov. 15) vs. Texas and Nov. 21 at Lake Erie.

Stålberg was in the final day of his fourteen-day conditioning assignment. He played in four-games with the Admirals and recorded 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists). There has yet to be an update on his exact condition since being helped off the ice after the Evans hit in the second period on Friday night’s game. All we have to go on is that Ads head coach Dean Evason said that it was, “not good.”

Did the AHL get this suspension correct? What were your thoughts on the hit Brennan Evans dished out on Viktor Stålberg? With this hit being suspension worthy, why wasn’t it called as such for “kneeing” on the ice?

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