Roundtable Off Day: Question of the Day

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Jake Allen has owned the Milwaukee Admirals this season. Would you want to face him and the Amtrak Rivals in the opening round of the playoffs? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

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?

4 thoughts on “Roundtable Off Day: Question of the Day”

  1. For me, I think Toronto is the better bet. With the recall of Drew MacIntire to the Leafs due to the Bernier injury, that leaves the Marlies with a 21 year old and a 20 year old in net potentially for the first round matchup if the Leafs manage to sneak into the playoffs. Granted, Sparks and Gibson have been solid for Toronto this year, however, as we all know the playoffs are a different animal entirely. I would think two young goalies works better for the Ads as opposed to Jake Allen. I think the ads need to hover right where they are.

  2. Chicago , Toronto , it doesn’t matter . Play anybody anywhere. The playoffs are a new chance to advance. Bring It …

  3. I’m not one to disagree too much with Lavender, but here’s my take: I would rather play against Chicago than Toronto. Sound crazy? Let me explain.

    Chicago is a very well-known opponent, the games are close to home, and if there is a bad matchup you would rather play that team in a shorter five-game series than a seven gamer. That Toronto team has plenty of players that have gone on deep Calder Cup playoff runs, plus will likely be fully stocked from Toronto, considering I don’t think the Maple Leafs will make the playoffs (after a rather absurd collapse and props to former Admirals assitant Todd Richards in Columbus).

    Jake Allen is awesome, yes an obvious point Dan. But the Blues are heading for a deep playoff run and will keep some players up in St. Louis. Plus when Milwaukee played Abbotsford a few years back the Admirals dominated the season series between the two teams only to get waxed in the first round by the surprising Heat.

    Honestly, if I was trying to pick a spot to finish, I would try to avoid Grand Rapids, who look loaded again for another run, are the defending champs, and organizationally are just loaded with players (hence why they felt they could discard Jarnkrok). But I think the most important thing now is to get into the playoffs and not have to nab a spot at the last second like the Admirals have done the previous two years. Though Milwaukee feels pretty secure at the moment, a three-game losing streak this week and all of sudden Rockford and Charlotte could make a move up fast.

    A reasonable Admirals goal this week is get at least a split with Rockford in these next two games and then grab three more points the rest of the weekend. That could be enough to lock up a playoff spot with the final weekend of the season still ahead. That weekend could provide a bit a breather before the grind of the playoffs, something Milwaukee hasn’t had the previous two seasons and maybe could have used.

    Overall, I’d say for Milwaukee just get into the playoffs and finish as high as you can. The Admirals can worry about figuring out their playoff matchup in two weeks.

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