In the grand scheme of things, one home shutout victory against Houston on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean much, but it sure beats the alternative.
With the win Milwaukee still stands in the same place it has been of late–in 10th place in the Western Conference, trailing teams that are set to play postseason hockey.
The current difference between the Admirals’ spot (49 games played, 25 wins, 53 points) and eighth place Abbotsford’s spot (49 games played, 26 wins, 55 points) is just one victory, but Milwaukee carries at least one game in hand on every team except the Heat (and first place Oklahoma City, which is almost assured a playoff spot) standing ahead of them.
Therefore, Milwaukee is far from dead, but time and the schedule are starting to become a factor. With the AHL campaign reduced by four games in comparison to previous years, Milwaukee has just 27 games left to make up ground. Realistically, even if the Admirals get on a run, sixth place looks to be about the furthest up within reach.
Here are the teams that stand in the way: Peoria (27-21-2-1, 57 points), San Antonio (27-21-2-0, 56 points), Abbotsford (26-20-3-0, 55 points), Lake Erie (25-22-2-2, 54 points) and Rochester (22-19-6-3, 53 points).
Milwaukee will play none of those teams this weekend, just first place Oklahoma City, standing in the same spot the Admirals enjoyed for most of 2010-2011. The Barons are coasting with a remarkable 32-12-2-3 mark, seven points ahead of its nearest challengers. Two losses would hardly face Oklahoma City, but two wins would go a long, long way for Milwaukee.
So Roundtable . . . What are your expectations for this weekend’s pair of games with Oklahoma City? Are you dreading the match up against one of the AHL’s best, or do you see this as an opportunity?