Alright, yesterday wasn’t that great of a day in Wisconsin sports but –great news– the Milwaukee Admirals are back in action tonight and tomorrow to ease or amplify all of the damage that Monday caused you.
The Admirals take on the top two teams in the Midwest Division and still need to expand or maintain their gap over the trailing teams in the Western Conference standings. Make no bones about it. These next two road games are going to be tough ones to plow through but there isn’t really any surprises in-store for them either. There has been success in both of these same fixtures throughout the season so there is still plenty of reason to be up for what’s ahead.
~Short & Sweet~
The Rockford IceHogs enter tonight’s game with a record of 41-21-5-2 (89 points). They current sit behind the Grand Rapids Griffins in the Midwest Division and rank fourth in the Western Conference.
Rockford have played 69 games on the season so far compared to the Admirals (71) and Griffins (70). While the Ads are pushing to stay in the playoff picture the IceHogs have their sights still set on winning the division. They trail the Griffins by only 3 points with a game in-hand. It’s entirely doable. As for taking the top of the conference? That would take some losing on the part of the Utica Comets (69 games, 93 points) and San Antonio Rampage (70 games, 92 points).
~The Road So Far~
The season match-up between the Admirals and IceHogs has seen 11 games played so far with the Admirals holding a record of 7-4-0-0.
When looking at the recent string of overtime games for the Ads there might be some good news here. There has only been one overtime game played between the Admirals and IceHogs this season and it ended as a 1-0 Admirals shutout victory in Rockford.
There has also been a ton of scoring in this match-up. The Admirals and IceHogs have multiple players with over 7 points in the head-to-head: Viktor Arvidsson, 9 points (1 goal, 8 assists)… Phillip Danault, 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists)… Taylor Aronson, 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists)… Austin Watson, 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists)… Ville Pokka, 7 points (0 goals, 7 assists).
Goaltending has also had its great moments on both sides. Marek Mazanec: 7 games, 5-2-0-0 record, 2.15 goals against average, 0.930 save percentage, and 1 shutout… Magnus Hellberg: 4 games, 2-2-0-0 record, 2.02 goals against average, and 0.924 save percentage… Michael Leighton: 7 games, 2-3-1-0 record, 1.92 goals against average, 0.921 save percentage, and 1 shutout.
~Since Last We Met~
You might have noticed I left a name off the goaltending list there. That’s because former-Admiral Scott Darling is no longer a member of the IceHogs he’s been up with the Chicago Blackhawks since signing a two-year contract extension back in late-February. He has been doing brilliantly at the NHL level when called upon and that made a swap with Antti Raanta effortless for the Blackhawks.
Raanta has played in 9 games for the IceHogs this season and has a record of 6-1-1-0 with a 2.60 goals against average, 0.913 save percentage, and a shutout. He has allowed 10 goals in his last 4 games in net.
Since we last met feels like ages ago. No, it really does. You have to go back to mid-February to the last time the Admirals and IceHogs faced off. That game ended with a 2-1 IceHogs win in Milwaukee.
Want a swift kick in the gut? Here is a stat for you. In the time since that last encounter the IceHogs have gone 14-5-1-0 (29 points) while the Admirals have gone 5-11-4-2 (16 points).
Around the AHL tonight there are some games of interest to the playoff chase that is taking place right behind the Admirals in the Western Conference. The current ninth seed the Hamilton Bulldogs will be playing on the road against the top team in the West the Utica Comets. The tenth and eleventh seeds will square off when the Toronto Marlies host the Adirondack Flames. Then, the twelfth seeded Lake Erie Monsters face the seventh seeded Chicago Wolves on the road.
What are your expectations from these two games? Can the Admirals catch the IceHogs and Griffins taking some sort of a breather with both already having cliched their playoff spots?