The Admirals are currently on their biggest losing skid of the season: 4 games. While that isn’t great by any means – these past two games, including the last one against these same Grand Rapids Griffins, have been very good games for the Ads.
With their meeting in Rockford they consistently peppered shots on goal while minimizing shots against. The problem? They were playing against a team that, as of last night, is in the middle of the hottest run in the AHL: 10 straight games with a point – including 5 straight wins.
The last game in Grand Rapids hurt just that little bit to lose because it came down to a shootout. The Admirals and Griffins were engaged the entire game in a fantastic goaltending duel between Scott Darling and Petr Mrazek. Neither surrendered a goal through regulation or overtime. Both earned, and I mean earned, 29-save shutouts. Yet again it was an overtime or shootout that nipped the Admirals in the end. The Ads have no played in 18 games that went beyond regulation. They have won 3 OT games and lost a league high 6 OT games. In the shootout they have won 3 SO’s and lost 6 SO’s. It has been a problem area for the team all season long. Sadly for the team, and for Darling in a duel like he had with Mrazek, they came up short in yet another shootout defeat.
The Admirals now have a record of 23-18-6-6 (58 points). They are fourth in the Midwest Division – trailing the next closest team, the Rockford IceHogs, by 7 points. The Admirals do have 4 games in hand over the IceHogs. That’ll come in handy moving forward because, right now, tie-breakers are going the way of all division rivals. Use those games wisely, Admirals.
Dean Evason provides an injury update on Ford, Mazanec, and Rask:
Ford and Mazanec both played their last game 2/16 at Chicago. Ford was ruled out of last weekend’s three-in-three with an upper body injury. While Mazanec was out with, I’m guessing, and lower-body injury of some kind.
Rask has been out of the Admirals lineup since getting injured at the start of the month, 2/5 vs. Hamilton. In that game he re-injured his left shoulder that had put him out earlier in the season for 8 games. I saw him outside of the Ads locker room, doing his typical high-tech stick maintenance, and saw he was still heavily iced up. If I had to hazard a guess – Rask will not be playing tonight but could have a shot at returning on the weekend.
The Grand Rapids Griffins will be playing tonight’s game with a record of 32-17-2-3 (69 points). They still lead the Midwest Division but only by a single point over the Chicago Wolves. It seems as if, while teams like the Wolves and IceHogs are on a roll, the Griffins and Admirals are somewhat stumbling through the month of February.
When the two met on Sunday they were both in a rut. The Griffins had lost three-straight games of their own until a gutsy 4-3 win against the Oklahoma City Barons the day prior to the showdown with the Ads. When the two met? Yeah. Neither could score until the shootout. Both the Ads and Griffins are trying to regain their footing all while teams in their division, save for perhaps the Iowa Wild, are playing dominant hockey.
The co-star of the last game, Petr Mrazek, is having himself another solid season. He has split time between the AHL and NHL this season but has spent the bulk with Grand Rapids. In the AHL this season he has played in 19 games, won 13, has a 2.21 GAA, 0.923 SV%, and 2 shutouts. With the Red Wings in the NHL he played in 7 games, record 1 win, had a 1.64 GAA, 0.924 SV%, and recorded a shutout.
Against Milwaukee, Mrazek currently holds a shutout streak of 108:40 minutes against the Admirals that dates back to when Patrick Cehlin scored in the second period of a game on 2/1/14. Simply put: if the Admirals have any hope of ending their four-game losing skid – if starts by putting pucks past Petr Mrazek for them to do it.
How will the Admirals fair in this game? Will the losing streak end tonight? Who should start in net for the Milwaukee Admirals, Scott Darling or Marek Mazanec? What do the Admirals need to do in order to score against Petr Mrazek?