Milwaukee received some great news from its parent organization Nashville today as goaltender Jeremy Smith was returned to the Admirals. The Predators swapped Smith for Chet Pickard as the team’s reserve goaltender for Game 1 against Detroit.
Prior to exchange Milwaukee was left with a backup goaltender in Pickard, who hadn’t played a single game in the AHL in 2011-2012. A season prior Pickard found ice time in just seven games at the AHL level. With the Admirals facing a desperation three games in three nights stretch to finish the season, Milwaukee coach Ian Herbers faced the prospect of starting Atte Engren in all three games (Engren had yet to play on back-to-back nights all season) or rolling the dice with Pickard for at least one start.
Certainly Nashville’s decision to return Smith (29-19-1, 2.25 goals against average, .920 save percentage) bolsters Milwaukee’s prospects for its final weekend where the Admirals will face three Midwest Division foes that own better records in their season series. Rockford is 9-1-0-1 and Chicago is 6-4-0-1 in their 11 prior head-to-head match up with the Admirals. Meanwhile, Charlotte holds a 4-3-0-0 mark in its prior seven games against Milwaukee, but the Admirals can take the season series with a regulation victory on Sunday.
Currently Milwaukee stands at the top of a precarious sixth place in the Western Conference at 38-28-2-4, good for 82 points tied for the same total as Houston (3 Games Remaining), Peoria (2 GR), Lake Erie (2 GR) and Rochester (2 GR). Charlotte at 81 points with three games left is still alive, as is Grand Rapids at 77 (but the Griffins would need to win out their final three games and get TONS of help). Oklahoma City, Toronto, Chicago and Abbotsford will all be in the Calder Cup playoffs. San Antonio sits one point ahead of the pack at 83 total with three games left to play.
Here are the remaining games (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) for teams fighting for the final four postseason slots:
MILWAUKEE: at Rockford, at Chicago, vs. Charlotte
San Antonio: vs. Texas, at Houston, vs. Oklahoma City
Houston: at Oklahoma City, vs. San Antonio, vs. Texas
Peoria: vs. Charlotte, OFF, at Chicago
Lake Erie: vs. Hamilton, vs. Rochester, OFF
Rochester: vs. Syracuse, at Lake Erie, OFF
Charlotte: at Peoria, at Rockford, at Milwaukee
Grand Rapids: vs. Chicago, at Hamilton, at Hamilton.
So Roundtable . . . How many points do you think Milwaukee needs to make the playoffs? My best guess is that the Admirals need 86 points to guarantee playing in the postseason, that would mean taking four of six available points this weekend.
How many points do think Milwaukee will get this weekend? My best guess is four, two points between Rockford and Chicago, two for a win against Charlotte.
Who gets into the Calder Cup playoffs and who stays out? I predict Milwaukee, San Antonio, Houston and Rochester get in, while Peoria, Charlotte, Lake Erie and Grand Rapids will end up left out.