To say this weekend’s pair of home games is huge for Milwaukee would be the understatement of the year.
With only three games at the Bradley Center remaining on the schedule, where Milwaukee ranks tied for the third best record in the AHL (21-11-2-1–45 points), the Admirals need to take full advantage against Oklahoma City and Rockford Friday and Sunday. Otherwise the final showdown with Charlotte to end the season might not matter after Milwaukee faces seven straight road games. The Admirals have just 13 wins in 31 road games so far this season, posting the third-worst away record in the AHL at 13-16-0-2–28 points.
To add those two precious games into the win column, the Admirals need to continue getting offensive support from a couple of sources that have taken their game’s up a level in recent weeks–forward Brodie Dupont and defenseman Jonathon Blum.
To say Dupont had a slow start to his 2011-2012 season with Milwaukee would be the understatement of the year. Perhaps rushing back from serious injury, Dupont managed just two assists through his first 24 games, a far cry from his average of 42 points per season over the past three years.
However, ever since he scored a pair of goals in Milwaukee’s dramatic 5-4 come from behind victory against Lake Erie on March 16, Dupont’s been one of the Admirals’ best scoring options. The Russell, Manitoba native has five goals and seven points in March, while seeing ice time on Milwaukee’s top two lines.
Meanwhile, after a two-goal effort and a two-assist effort in his four AHL games this season with Milwaukee, defenseman Jon Blum fell off the face of the earth during January and February as reality set in that his most recent demotion to the Admirals was going to be permanent.
After abysmal defensive efforts against Chicago and Rockford in back-to-back games on March 7th and 10th (-3 and -4 respectively), the former first-round pick has played to just a minus-two rating since (good for the own-zone deficient defender). Offensively, Blum now ranks ninth on Milwaukee in scoring with 20 points, with seven points so far in March.
Certainly, if Milwaukee is going to return to the playoffs for the tenth straight season, Dupont and Blum must continue their upward trends.