The Milwaukee Admirals season has been all about these hot and cold stretches. They’re currently skidding through another cold one: five game losing streak, four regulation losses in those five defeats, one win from eight games, and are 4-5-2-1 (11 points) from their last twelve games.
Consider what the other teams in the Midwest Division have done in their last twelve games: Grand Rapids Griffins, 10-0-2-0 (22 points)… Rockford IceHogs, 7-5-0-0 (14 points)… Chicago Wolves, 7-4-1-0 (15 points)… and the Lake Erie Monsters, 5-6-1-0 (11 points). Not hard to see why the Admirals have sputtered down the divisional standings is it?
Some good news? The last time the Admirals won was against these very same Monsters. It was a 5-2 win. The bad news? They followed that up with a 3-2 loss two days later that kicked off the losing streak that the Admirals are still on.
If there is anything that is going to right the ship for the Admirals tonight it’s getting back to the “play the right way” formula that worked so well in January. The game needs to be simplified. Passes need to connect. And puck control must be paramount. Take care of the defensive end, chip pucks up to forwards, get shots on target, and crash for second and third chance opportunities.
That very same simple formula can just as easily map over to the power-play. That twelve game span mentioned up above? The Admirals went 18.9% (10/53) on the power-play while conceding six shorthanded goals. Pass smart. Pass shooting lanes open. Shoot. Use the numbers to work around the net for screens and rebound opportunities.
The Monsters aren’t exactly doing great at the moment, either. As mentioned about they’ve earned the same points total over twelve games as the Admirals. Lake Erie’s current overall record is 24-22-5-3 (56 points). They remain in last place in the Midwest Division and current sit in twelfth place of the Western Conference – they trail the current eighth placed Texas Stars by 7 points.
This season the Monsters have managed to be a thorn in the Admirals side with some late comebacks that have cost the Admirals ‘should have been’ wins.
12/18/14, the Admirals held a 2-0 lead before coughing up four straight goals – including the go-ahead and eventual game-winning goal twenty-six seconds apart in the final two minutes of the game.
2/3/15, the Admirals have a 2-0 lead -again- and concede two goals in the third period before losing in the shootout.
The two have matched-up seven times this season and the match up has favored Lake Erie, 4-2-0-1. Of those games all but two games have been separated by one goal. In those games? The Admirals won both contests.
Calvin Pickard has always been solid against the Admirals and that trend has continued this season. He absolutely stole the show last time they played the Monsters and now has a 2.11 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage against the Admirals from four games on the season.
Pickard was hugely active last month. He started all but one of the Monsters twelve games in February and went 5-5-1-0 in net with a 2.78 goals against average and 0.903 save percentage.
The Monsters will be without their top two scorers in the head-to-head against the Admirals. Paul Carey was involved in a trade deadline deal with the Boston Bruins that sent him out of the Colorado Avalanche organization with Maxime Talbot in exchange for Jordan Caron and the Bruins sixth round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. As for the other top scorer? Joey Hishon is currently up with the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL.
This will mean keeping an eye out for the likes of Colin Smith and Andrew Agozzino. Smith inherits the head-to-head scoring lead for the Monsters against the Admirals with 4 assists. He has 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) on the season. Agozzino had 3 goals against the Admirals this season and leads the Monsters active roster in scoring with 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists).
If I were you folks, I’d keep a keen eye on the AHL’s transactions page throughout the morning to see if Frédérick Gaudreau gets called up from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Rich Clune was suspended yesterday as a result of accumulating three instigating misconducts this season. Should Gaudreau get the call up it would be telling of how injured Mike Liambas is after his “lower body” injury suffered last time out. It didn’t look pretty at all and Liambas did not return from the first period onwards.
No Clune. No Liambas (possibly). You’ll probably see Gaudreau get the call should Liambas be out tonight.
And, surprise surprise, Gaudreau was officially called up this afternoon from the Cyclones. It’s his first time back with the Admirals since January and he has since played fourteen games in the ECHL.
Who will rebound tonight? What will the Admirals have to do in order to get a positive result against the Lake Erie Monsters on the road tonight? Who would you start in net for the Admirals?