Hello Roundtable. I’m hoping to have a relaxing Sunday today -but- want to ask you all a question that I’ve had in mind a lot in recent weeks.
Should the Admirals avoid gaining the fifth overall playoff seed in the Western Conference with the threat of a first round match up against the Chicago Wolves?
It seems like the Admirals have been planted in the Midwest Division (third place) and Western Conference (sixth place) for a solid month now. With the teams in front of them hardly changing up much – it seems as if those potential opening round opponents become fairly clear.
If the season ended today, the Admirals would play against the Toronto Marlies in a three versus six match up. In the past five years the Ads have dominated that head-to-head: 8-2-1-1 (18 points from twelve games). This season they swept the Marlies: Jan. 21 vs. Toronto: W, 3-2… Mar. 22 @ Toronto: W, 5-1.
While the Marlies have seven more wins and points than the Admirals – they also have a full 292 more penalty minutes too. Only one team in the entire league has been shorthanded more often, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (388), than the Marlies (349). With that in mind they have the tenth ranked penalty kill in the AHL with a 83.7 PK% and the Admirals have four power-play goals against them in just two games this season.
Now, let’s think about that other option should the Admirals jump the Abbotsford Heat for fifth place in the Western Conference: the Wolves.
With the exception of last night, which ended 4-1 in the Wolves favor, every game has been a white knuckle ride to the finish. The Amtrak Rivalry has seen nine of its ten games be decided by one-goal. Not to mention, the Wolves are 7-0-1-2 (17 points) against the Admirals this season. They have yet to be defeated in regulation by the Admirals this season. You would have to go back to the final game of last season when the Ads won 3-0 over the Peoria Rivermen (who effectively became the current iteration of these Wolves) behind Magnus Hellberg‘s 20-save shutout.
Jake Allen will be a massive hurdle for anyone to really face come playoff season – but he would hit the Admirals hard should they meet again in the playoffs. He has played in eight of the ten games against Milwaukee this season and won six of them. He has a 1.69 GAA, 0.933 SV%, and a shutout.
The Admirals best netminder in this meeting? You guessed it, Scott Darling: two games, one win, 0.97 GAA, 0.967 SV%, and one shutout. Marek Mazanec, another candidate for the net in the playoffs, has faced the Wolves twice and lost both times: 3.22 GAA and a 0.889 SV%.
When it comes to the skaters and the eye-twitchy state known as plus/minus – the Admirals have twelve players with either a positive or even rating versus the Wolves who have twenty-eight. As for the negatives, the Ads have fourteen players with minus ratings against only three for the Wolves. Taylor Beck and Bryan Rodney are a combined -19 against the Wolves this season.
While the playoff reinforcements would certainly help… Colton Sissons 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists), Calle Jarnkrok 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) against the Wolves… it is still a four-five match up that I think would go against the Admirals as opposed to the current playoff rankings.
Pro: you know what you’re getting against the Wolves having played them so much this month and the entire season. Con: you know what you’re getting against the Wolves having played them so much this month and the entire season.
Interesting thought. Something that is still rather out of the Admirals control as far as how other teams shape out the playoff seeds as the season creeps to a halt. If I could simply pick and choose opponents as to where the Admirals are hovering – I like exactly where we are right now.
What do you think about the potential opening playoff match up? Should the Admirals be playing for the sixth seed or pushing for the fifth seed? How would the Amtrak Rivalry pan out in an opening round series?