Bulldogs: Scouting the Enemy

Saponari-2514-1
The last time the Milwaukee Admirals played against the Hamilton Bulldogs – Vinny Saponari did this. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Before we go anywhere with today’s Scouting the Enemy – let’s set the mood for this post with some appropriate music:

There we go! Much better.

Anyways, there is plenty to discuss when it comes to the Milwaukee Admirals in tonight’s game. Calle Jarnkrok up. How will the forward lines look as a result? Will the offense be as potent with him and Colton Sissons in Nashville?

The Admirals currently have a record of 29-20-6-6 (70 points). That’s good enough for third place in the Midwest Division and sixth in the Western Conference. In their last seven games they have gone 6-1-0-0 (12 points) while scoring 37 goals.

Who has been contributing to the offense during that span?

Calle Jarnkrok, 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists)

Colton Sissons, 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists)

Miikka Salomaki, 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists)

Vinny Saponari, 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists)

Bryan Rodney, 7 points (1 goal, 6 assist)

Patrick Cehlin, 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists)

Filip Forsberg, 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists)

Austin Watson, 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists)

Taylor Beck, 7 points (0 goals, 7 assists)

Joe Piskula, 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists)

Mark Van Guilder, 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists)

Mathieu Tousignant, 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)

Charles-Olivier Roussel, 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist)

Anthony Bitetto, 3 points (0 goals, 3 assists)

Scott Ford, 3 points (0 goals, 3 assists)

Joonas Jarvinen, 2 points (2 goals, 0 assists)

Joonas Rask, 2 points (2 goals, 0 assists)

Francis Wathier, 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist)

Scott Valentine, 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist)

Kevin Henderson, 1 point (0 goals, 1 assist)

Pretty even. Pretty balanced. In fact, with all the attention put towards Jarnkrok and Sissons, it is pretty incredible to look back and realize how productive Piskula and Rodney have been in this stretch for the Admirals.

Still, with Nashville nursing some banged up bodies, it means a depleted center spot for the Ads – as well as the subtraction of its top two points producers: Jarnkrok and Sissons. How will the lines end up looking tonight? If I had to hazard a guess I would expect the following lines.

Forsberg-Salomaki-Cehlin
Saponari-Watson-Beck
Wathier-Van Guilder-Budish
Liambas-Tousignant-Rask

Valentine-Ford
Bitetto-Piskula
Rodney-Roussel

I think it is a pretty safe bet we end up going with this – but there is no given. Remember, when I visited with the team before they traveled up to Canada, Dean Evason told me that Beck was questionable for tonight’s game. He is traveling with the team, unlike Jarvinen, but is still considered questionable.

Should Beck be a scratch tonight with that hand injury of his – I wonder if the team would be willing to roll with Valentine on the Tousignant line and then a rotation on the right wing. That would look like this:

Forsberg-Salomaki-Rask
Saponari-Watson-Cehlin
Wathier-Van Guilder-Budish
Liambas-Tousignant-Valentine

Young-Ford
Bitetto-Piskula
Rodney-Roussel

If Beck is indeed out of the mix – I could see this working. It would also give a quickfire introduction to the recently signed ATO defenseman Michael Young. He was limited in practice on Tuesday but did spend the majority of Wednesday’s practice at the Kern Center playing alongside Ford. Perhaps they had that in mind with the “no Beck” scenario possibly playing out.

Will either of these lines produce to the same level as the ones used during the last seven games? Unlikely, but I do feel it still offers a glimmer of the same depth that has been the key standout for the Ads during the run: two skill lines up top, two checking lines down low, and a defensive group with two-way balance throughout.

Let’s go back to that music from the top of the story and jump into today’s enemy.

The Hamilton Bulldogs are 27-30-1-4 (59 points) and sit at the bottom of the North Division and are second to last, cheers San Antonio Rampage, in the entire Western Conference. The Bulldogs are one of only two other teams (Toronto Marlies and Oklahoma City Barons) to have more penalty minutes (1177 PIMs) than the Admirals (1029 PIMs) in the Western Conference.

In the previous encounter between these two, on 2/5/14 in Milwaukee, the Admirals came out with a 4-2 win. It looked a little something like this:

In that game Marek Mazanec got the call in net and is more than likely the man getting the start tonight. In that game he stopped 28 of 30 shots on goal in his ninth win of the season. The game also saw goals scored by Van Guilder, Watson, Roussel (PPG), and Sissons (EN).

The leading scorer for the Bulldogs is ex-Rockford IceHogs forward Martin St. Pierre. This season he has 42 points (10 goals, 32 assists) and is a full 10 points clear of the next closest scorer on the team: Sven Andrighetto 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists).

St. Pierre was a thorn in the Admirals side last season with the IceHogs. In twelve games against Milwaukee he scored 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists). No one in last seasons match up, Admirals or IceHogs, scored more goals than St. Pierre.

Additionally, during the 2007-08 season with the IceHogs – matched up against the Admirals, St. Pierre had 12 points (2 goals, 10 assists) in ten games. The only other player in that season on his level in scoring: Rich Peverley 12 points (1 goal, 11 assists).

Top Gear Top Tip: Stop Martin St. Pierre, plz thx.

The goaltending situation in Hamilton right now is a fun one. We have Devan DubnykDustin Tokarski, and Robert Mayer to round out a trifecta of netminders.

Dubnyk was acquired by the Nashville Predators from the Edmonton Oilers this season in exchange for Matt Hendricks. With the Predators he only saw the net twice, sported a 4.35 GAA, and a 0.850 SV%. He was then put on waivers, cleared waivers, traded to the Montreal Canadiens on NHL Trade Deadline day for future considerations, and promptly sent to the Bulldogs of the AHL.

I guess you could say it has been a rough season for Dubnyk – and his three starts since the move to the AHL hasn’t really changed that: 3/7/14 vs. Oklahoma City, L, 38 saves, 2 GA, 0.950 SV%… 3/9/14 vs. Lake Erie, L, 21 saves, 4 GA, 0.840 SV%… 3/14/14 @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, L, 10 saves, 4 GA, 0.714 SV%, and was pulled after 35:16 minutes in net and replaced by Mayer.

It was all Mayer after the game in which Dubnyk was pulled up until their last game. Tokarski had the net on 3/19/14 vs. Abbotsford and came away with the win while stopping 27 of 28 shots on goal.

Who should we expect to get the start in net for the Hamilton Bulldogs? Your guess is as good as mine – but I’d say Mayer, who played in the previous meeting, probably gets the nod.

Thoughts on tonight’s match up? How do you see the forward lines being worked – with or without Taylor Beck? Does an opponent like the Hamilton Bulldogs help get this road trip started on the right foot or could it be a trap game? How would you work the Admirals goalies for the weekend three-in-three?

4 thoughts on “Bulldogs: Scouting the Enemy”

  1. From your description of the Beck injury (owowowowow), I would think that he will be scratched for tonight. Valentine to forward is a natural move. It gives me pause about tossing the new guy in right away, but he has to get his feet wet sometime. I Can’t see coach Dean running one goalie for all three. If it was me, I would go Maz-Darling-Maz. If the Ads don’t look too far ahead to the Toronto game, they should do well against Hamilton.

  2. Admiral’s need 6 of 8 points on this road trip to be successful. Great opportunity and challenge 3-in-3 on the road.

    Daniel – Jarvinen – Must have sustained a concussion on Feb.28th in a fight with Jake Dowell (Iowa)
    He’s been out three weeks now and not on road trip. (just my opinion from watching the game live).

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