First off, I highly expect a bunch of website views from North Korea and much much more thanks to the lovely title for today’s scouting report (cringe, sigh, repeat).
The Admirals are freshly removed from a 9-1 thrashing of the Iowa Wild that ended their season long five-game winless streak. Pekka Rinne was heavily under the microscope in that game and he will be again today. He didn’t have too much strenuous work against the Wild on Friday. He’ll be playing against a team today in the Rochester Americans that has scored 2+ goals in six-consecutive games. In that stretch they’ve averaged 29.7 shots on goal per game. Rinne had his game length conditioning test Friday. He’ll have a much bigger work out today.
It begs asking. Can the Ads possibly comeback today with an offensive performance remotely close to Friday’s outburst? I’m not talking same scoreline… that would be silly… but the last time they scored 4+ goals in back-to-back games was 1/12/14 vs. Lake Erie and 1/16/14 @ San Antonio. Before that? 12/6/13 vs. Oklahoma City and 12/12/13 vs. Oklahoma City. In short, they tend to not sustain their offense that often. If Friday was the beginning of the Ads playoff push – it desperately needs that kind of an offense that can deliver so accurately from their chances.
Right now the Admirals have a record of 24-19-6-6 (60 points) and sit in fourth place of the Midwest Division – as well as the bubble spot, eighth place, of the Western Conference. They trail the Rockford IceHogs in the division by six-points – but have four-games in the bag to play with compared to the IceHogs. Today they’ll be playing against the team that sits above them in the conference, Rochester. They trail them by three-points and, shockingly, Rochester is one of only seven teams to have played less games than the Ads have this season. Perhaps the Ads schedule has finally caught up with the rest of the league?
The Rochester Americans record entering this afternoon’s game is 28-19-3-4 (63 points). They comfortably sit in second place of the North division trailing the Toronto Marlies by five-points and sit ahead of the Hamilton Bulldogs by eight-points. In the Americans last ten-games they have gone 6-3-0-1 (13 points). Good run, but they were roughed up by the Amtrak Rivals on Friday by a score of 6-2. It’ll be interesting to watch, for both teams, who we’re watching on the ice off of up and down Friday performances.
The ‘Mericans are led in scoring by Phil Varone who has played in 47 games and produced 43 points (12 goals, 31 assists). He earned his first career NHL call up during this season and played 9 games with the Buffalo Sabres where he scored 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist).
With Pekka Rinne added to the season stats for the Admirals – they have now had five different goaltenders play for them this season. That is the most since the 2010-11 season when they had the likes of Mark Dekanich, Jeremy Smith, Atte Engren, Anders Lindback, and Chet Pickard. I say this because Rochester has comfortably rotated a two-man battery the entire season.
Matt Hackett has had the majority of games this season: 31 games, 13 wins, 2.89 GAA, and 0.904 SV%. Nathan Lieuwen, playing in his first full professional season, has played in 26 games, won 15 games, 2.39 GAA, 0.920 SV%, and has 2 shutouts to his name. The rookie has had the better numbers this season. With Hackett taking the loss on Friday, conceding 6 goals from 37 shots by the Chicago Wolves, I anticipate a match up of Lieuwen against Rinne. Lieuwen has won his last two-starts – but has also allowed 2+ goals in his previous seven games.
What should we expect from today’s game? Will we see a drastic drop off from the Admirals today or can they carry Friday’s momentum? What do you anticipate from Pekka Rinne in his second rehab start? Will this be Rinne’s last appearance on conditioning assignment?