If the month of February could be anything close to as good as January then we should all be in for a treat. This week the Admirals have a chance to leap into first place in the Midwest Division with games set against the Rockford IceHogs on Friday and Saturday. Before they can think about that there is another divisional foe to handle tonight at home.
The Lake Erie Monsters enter tonight’s game with a record of 19-16-4-3 (45 points) and are currently in last place of the Midwest Division. They have earned points from their last five games – including three wins from their last four games.
Against the Admirals this season the Monsters are 2-1-0-1. The top scorers for both teams in the head-to-head are Pontus Åberg for the Admirals with 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) and Paul Carey for the Monsters with 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists).
An interesting thing about how these two teams match up is their power-play and how much better it performs away from home ice. The Admirals overall power-play percentage is 16.2% while the Monsters comes in at 15.6%. At home, both power-plays drop tremendously: Admirals, 9.5%, Monsters 9.9%. That means keeping an eye out for the Monsters’ road power-play tonight which has a 20.5% success rate.
The leading scorer for the Monsters this season is defenseman Maxim Noreau with 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists). It is currently the 27-year old’s fifth career season in the AHL. He spent the past three seasons playing professionally with HC Ambrì-Piotta in Switzerland.
Tonight the Monsters will have quality selection for who they want out in net as both Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio are available. Regardless of which goalie gets the start a huge point of emphasis should be to get to the net and take their vision away.
Both netminders have done well against the Admirals in the past, statistically. Pickard has played against the Admirals eight times and won five with a 2.35 GAA and 0.906 SV%. Meanwhile, Aittokallio has won two out of three games against the Admirals in his career with a 1.37 GAA, 0.953 save percentage, shutout, and goalie fight.
As far as the injury bug goes for the Admirals we should know more about the what’s what closer to pre-game skate tonight. Miikka Salomäki has missed the last two games due to an upper body injury. Rich Clune injured his right leg on Friday night’s home game and didn’t play the next night. The lone guarantee should be that Jimmy Oligny shouldn’t be in the lineup after his lower-body injury on Saturday night triggering the call-up of Garrett Noonan from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL late Sunday night.
Expectations for tonight’s game? More of the same from what the Admirals produced on the road in Grand Rapids? Against the Lake Erie Monsters would you like to see Rob Madore get the start or rather keep Magnus Hellberg rolling en route to the weekend showdown with the IceHogs?