2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 37 G.P., 17-14-3-3–40 pts., 97 goals scored, 107 goals allowed, T-10th place in the Western Conference (2nd Midwest Division). Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (6 goals, 20 assists, 26 points). Best Recent Win: Jan. 6, 3-2 (shootout) over Grand Rapids. Worst Recent Loss: Jan. 11, 5-2 at Peoria. Key Upcoming Matchup: Jan. 19 at Abbotsford.
Other than the scenery, there is absolutely nothing fun about an AHL team’s road trip to Abbotsford. The AHL’s most isolated city can prove to be a logistical nightmare to visit. Plus it doesn’t help that the Flames are generally one of the AHL’s better home clubs, taking full advantage of the brutal travel teams require to get there.
For Milwaukee that pain is a reality this week as the Admirals make the trek to the Pacific Northwest. Milwaukee is coming off a deflating 0-1-1-1 weekend against teams in their own division, losing out on a chance to build on positive recent momentum. Meanwhile, Abbotsford enters the weekend as the AHL’s coldest club, slipping back to eighth place in the West with just two wins in their last 10 games. Both teams should be plenty motivated based on their recent records alone.
But in case that doesn’t help, the Admirals should be able to jog their memories back to 2011-2012. During the regular season, Milwaukee played extremely well against the Heat, prompting many a predictions like my own that the Admirals would handle Abbotsford in their first round playoff series. Instead red-hot Milwaukee ran into a buzz saw, losing their opening round series to the Heat in three rather convincing games (6-2, 4-2 & 4-2).
Many of the names have changed for both teams, but the motivation for Milwaukee should be real. These are the first two games against the Heat since last spring. Hopefully the Admirals can find that the extra edge they were missing this past weekend.
So Roundtable . . . Do you think Milwaukee will be motivated to face Abbotsford? Are there any painful, lingering memories coming back? How do you see Milwaukee adjusting to life after the lockout?