Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been too long since we’ve scouted these chaps. It was a week ago when first place of the Midwest Division was on the line and the Admirals swept not only the two games against the Rockford IceHogs but also the end of their three-in-three with the Rochester Americans. The Admirals did fall 3-2 in overtime to the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday but the points gained in the last two games were a bonus. The IceHogs haven’t played since we last saw them.
Entering tonight’s game, the Admirals and IceHogs have both played 48 games on the season. The Ads lead the Midwest Division with a record of 28-13-3-4 (63 points) over the IceHogs who have a 26-16-4-2 (58 points) record. A loss tonight would not impact the divisional standings. Though, I think we’d all prefer to simply win.
~Changes For Both~
What has changed since the last time we met? Quite a lot. The Predators and Admirals defensive injury woes have left the AHL side of things very tight. With Jaynen Rissling joining the Admirals this week there are no more defensive products in the system at the ECHL level. In addition, it meant adding an extra body to the fold. What’s fun is that it’s a player that should be more than familiar with tonight’s opponent.
Jared Nightingale was added on a PTO contract and made his Admirals debut on Wednesday night in Chicago. He was the team captain of the IceHogs last season where he played 67 games, scored 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists), had a plus/minus rating of -14, and 114 penalty minutes.
“To be coming to a team like Milwaukee, they’ve always been a playoff team, I’m really excited to help them continue to win,” said Jared Nightingale on Aaron Sims’ pre-game show Wednesday night. “Hopefully I can fit in and can add an element that they need. I’m excited for that.”
By joining the Admirals Nightingale is playing for his fourth different AHL team this season. He has played with the Norfolk Admirals, Hartford Wolf Pack, and Grand Rapids Griffins in 2014-15. That goes along with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.
“Things have changed quickly. This will be my fifth team,” said Nightingale. “You could look at it through two odd lenses, get frustrated, but I’ve honestly been pretty fortunate to go to quality organizations and I know I’ve only heard good things about Milwaukee. Grand Rapids was a great experience. I was down in Norfolk for a couple months and that was great. Even when I was in the [ECHL] with Toledo it’s still rewarding. There is a lot that you can get out of it.”
Tonight won’t just be his first game against the IceHogs since playing for them last season. It will actually be the first game he has ever played against the IceHogs in his career. Quite impressive to have a first like that when you have logged 542 professional games.
It isn’t all bad news as far as the Admirals injury woes are concerned. Tonight should mark the return of Miikka Salomäki to the Admirals lineup after missing the last 7 games due to an upper-body injury. The Finn was cleared to play ahead of Wednesday night’s game but the team elected to keep him out one more game just to be on the safe side.
Also on the Admirals side of things. Taylor Aronson has already been returned to Milwaukee after a cup of coffee in the NHL. He was brought up pretty much on an emergency basis in case Shea Weber was still feeling ill last night. As it happened, both d-men took to the ice for pre-game skate and Weber was good enough to go. Aronson was a healthy scratch. Anthony Bitetto is the lone man up in Nashville at the moment.
What’s changed for the IceHogs? Nearly as much. They’ve had quite the active transfers the last week and it even includes Kirill Gotovets. That Belarus native made his professional playing debut with the Admirals on an ATO contract last season. He even made a Chatterbox appearance.
The comings and goings for the IceHogs have seen Kyle Cumiskey and Ryan Hartman both get called up to the Chicago Blackhawks while Finnish phenom Teuvo Teräväinen rejoins the IceHogs from a decent spell in the NHL.
Teräväinen has played 12 games for the Blackhawks this season and has scored 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists). He’s been much better at the AHL level this season: 33 games, 23 points (6 goals, 17 assists), plus/minus of -3, and 6 penalty minutes. Against the Admirals this season he has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 6 games.
As far as those suspensions go, the IceHogs will be receiving Brandon Mashinter tonight while Cody Bass starts the first of a two game suspension tonight. Mashinter served his two game suspension for elbowing last weekend. Meanwhile, Bass was suspended by the AHL for his actions last Friday in Milwaukee. I know Bass was involved in his fair bit of post-whistle antics, as was Pierre-Cédric Labrie, but I don’t recall a moment where I thought he went over the line. Garret Ross was given a match penalty for saying the magic words at the officials in the Saturday game in Rockford. Would still love to know more of what happened there.
After last week I could just about toss expectations to the wind. The two games played between the Admirals and IceHogs had a playoff level intensity with a defensive structure in the second game of *pause* no defensive structure. Those two games ended with a combined scoreline of 11-6 to the tune of the Admirals with a combined 88 penalty minutes.
If there were any aspect that could be bigger and better than it was last weekend you would assume both defenses should be on point tonight. The game plan for both should be simplified and I think both would prefer to avoid the run and gun nature of the Saturday game in Rockford last weekend. With the Admirals defense in a small jam at the moment – this might be the make or break to the game. Otherwise, perhaps that offense will just do enough like they did last weekend.
What are you expecting out of tonight’s game against the Rockford IceHogs? How will the Admirals defense fair in their second night together in the current shape that they’re in? Will our offense be able to overpower the IceHogs to control this game?