Friday night was only the Admirals third regulation loss in their previous 20 games. As you might expect that should bode well as far as springing back in the next game is concerned. In the last two regulation defeats the Admirals have won both games and done so in convincing fashion: 4-1 win against the Hamilton Bulldogs… 4-0 shutout on the road over the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Sounds good, right? There’s one slight problem. Our upcoming opponent. The Lake Erie Monsters have won the last 3 games head-to-head including 2 games where they’ve overcome 2 goal deficits. Hopefully this is a trend that can be bucked as the Admirals and Monsters will play today and Tuesday.
~The Other Guys~
The Monsters have a record of 22-18-4-3 (51 points) and are in last place in the Midwest Division. Notice what I noticed? Yes, they are in last place of our division with a record that is over .500. The Midwest Division the only division in the AHL to feature all teams with winning records. They also stand eleventh in the Western Conference standings and trail the eighth place spot, held by the Texas Stars at the moment, by 6 points.
In their last 10 games the Monsters have a good record of 6-2-2-0 (14 points). They enter fresh off of a 3-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers. Despite the good record in this 10 game span they’ve been outscored by their opponents 26-24 in regulation and overtime – to which they have had 6 games go past regulation in that spell.
~The Scoring Threats~
Lake Erie is led in scoring by defenseman Maxim Noreau who has 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists). He is followed by Andrew Agozzino, Paul Carey, and Colin Smith who all have 27 points on the season. Speaking of Agent Smith, he threw his name in the hat for AHL Goal of the Year since the last time we met.
In this season’s head-to-head, consisting of 5 games, sees Carey leading the Monsters big time with 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists). According to AHL’s transactions page, he shouldn’t be a factor for today as he was recalled by the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. That hands the “best in the head-to-head” nod off to the highlight reel man Smith who has 4 assists against the Admirals. Opposite side of the spectrum? This match-up favors Pontus Åberg who has a team best 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) for the Admirals against the Monsters.
~Between the Pipes~
Lake Erie has their tandem of Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio available again today. Pickard has always been good against the Admirals and the same can be said again this season. He has won 2 games from 3 appearances against the Admirals with a 2.14 goals against average and 0.922 save percentage. Aittokallio has yet to play against the Admirals this season.
For the Admirals, despite a hit and miss stretch on home ice, this match up favors Magnus Hellberg over Marek Mazanec. Hellberg has faced the Monsters twice this season and both games have gone all the way to a shootout. He has a 1.34 goals against average and 0.951 save percentage against the Monsters. Mazanec has allowed 9 goals in 3 games against the Monsters this season for a 2.99 goals against average and 0.890 save percentage.
Expectations for today’s game? Will the offense rebound? Can Triston Grant score a goal for the fifth consecutive game?