IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs)
Thankfully for Frederick Gaudreau – Scott Darling is currently in the NHL at the moment. (Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs)

Rather than dig back into the IceHogs, a team we’ve seen four times in our last eleven games, I am going to look back specifically at our last meeting. That game was our worst performance all season and summed up the worst of the Milwaukee Admirals during this current five-game losing streak. When the Admirals were shutout 4-0 by the IceHogs last Thursday they had nothing to offer from the opening puck drop until the game mercifully came to an end.

Anthony Bitetto chucked a puck over the glass seventeen-seconds into the game. That would signal the start of a period where they only posted four shots on goal. The IceHogs scored off of a goal that ricocheted off the goaltending stick and glove of Magnus Hellberg, who was trying to push the puck to his left corner, before finding its way behind him and the goal line to make it 1-0.

The second goal scored by the IceHogs was another howler all-round. A real story from that game for the Admirals defense was the amount of times they were burned by watching the puck and not being as active as they typically are. Rather than applying pressure, they seemed to all focus on the puck carrier and lost sight of T.J. Brennan skating from the left point all the way into the left wing faceoff circle. All five Admirals skaters are balled up to the right side of the ice and, in panic to the puck carrier Brennan, concede the backdoor to Hellberg’s net for Matt Carey. While his finish on the one-timer was whiffed. He had forever and a day to secure any rebounds if there was one. Fortunately for him, Brennan’s pass was so firm that it banked off of his skate and managed to beat Hellberg’s post-to-post save.

With the third goal came another mistake from the Admirals. This go-round they won a faceoff in neutral and Garrett Noonan, a bit too eager to start up a long feed for Viktor Arvidsson, turned the puck right over to start a two-on-one breakaway. Noonan was the last man back after the poor turnover because Johan Alm flew up center ice to get in attack. Why? I’m not even sure he knows. The net result, similar to Carey’s goal, was so much time and space for the IceHogs to score that they could jam a rebound in without pressure if need be. It wasn’t needed for Carey’s goal. It was for Drew LeBlanc‘s goal however and three trailing Admirals couldn’t fend him off of Hellberg before he made it 3-0 just over a minute into the third period to kill any real hope of a third period comeback.

The fourth and final goal was really the only one where I feel the Admirals did just about everything they could have to prevented it from happening. Brennan was in acres of space on the left wing, again, but his shot was simply unstoppable to the high blocker side roof.

Simply put. It was a stinker and it was so due to repeated mistakes. The Admirals passing was a mess. The defense was caught napping or being overly aggressive. When you make mistakes as bad as they made them against a team as hot as the IceHogs, who still lead the Midwest Division, you’re going to get a game like last Thursday.

What happened in the following two games for the Admirals did feel like minor improvements with teams game. I still feel that Hellberg and the Ads are very unlucky to not have secured a shutout on Sunday to put down the Grand Rapids Griffins. Yet, even that ended with the uninspiring feeling of “here we go again” as soon as the Griffins scored in the final minute of regulation.

A win tonight is a must for the Admirals. The losing streak is at five games including three straight on home ice. They’ll need to play desperate because I guarantee that the IceHogs, who lost their last two games, will come out strong looking for a rebound of their own.

Rather than get into the traps that cost them last time out. The Admirals need to be smart and keep things simple. That philosophy should have earned them a shutout last game. And it could get them back to winning ways tonight.

Thoughts for tonight’s game? Can the Admirals get some revenge from last week’s loss to Rockford? Is it ironic that the Admirals have lost every single game since Rich Clune called the Chicago Wolves “soft” or is it just me worried about us annoying the hockey gods?

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