The Admirals 5-3 regulation loss last night to the Rockford IceHogs drops their record to 33-26-7-6 (79 points). There are only four games remaining in the 2014-15 season for the Admirals and the battle for the final playoff position is tight.
The Toronto Marlies are perhaps the biggest threat to the Admirals at the moment. They sit in ninth place right behind the Ads and trail by 2 points with a pair of games in-hand. It’s setting the stage for the penultimate game of the season when the Admirals play host to the Marlies.
There are 8 possible points available to the Admirals for the rest of this season. Tonight the Admirals are playing on the road against the Midwest Division leading Grand Rapids Griffins. Then there is a home-road set with the Chicago Wolves with the Marlies game sandwiched between them. Success is possible in all of those games. The way that the Admirals and the competition have been playing lately paints an ugly picture moving forward. Perhaps that could all change with a thumping result tonight.
~Short & Sweet~
The Griffins enter tonight’s game with a record of 42-20-6-2 (92 points). Same as the IceHogs last night, the Griffins have already clinched a playoff spot but they still have something big to play for with both teams battling for the Midwest Division crown. The Griffins and IceHogs have played the same amount of games and the Griffins only lead by a single point. To boot, there is a chance to leap the San Antonio Rampage for the second seed in the Western Conference.
In the Griffins last ten games they have gone 6-3-0-1 (13 points). Wait. The Griffins losing in regulation? That’s nice to see, right? They’re human after all. Their wild point streak of nineteen games finally came to an end with a 4-3 loss on the road to the Lake Erie Monsters. With that being said, they’re not entirely slowing down any. In those last ten games the Griffins have been outscoring teams 32-23 from open play. That includes beating up the Marlies 7-2 in their last game.
~The Road So Far~
The Griffins lead the season series against the Admirals with a 6-2-1-0 record. With a win tonight the Griffins will one-up their head-to-head with the Admirals from last season when they had a 7-3-0-0 record.
When looking at the three times the Admirals have bested the Griffins you will find a pair of shutouts and an overtime thrill ride: Magnus Hellberg pitched a 22-save shutout in a 4-0 win in the first meeting of the season. In late-January Hellberg posted a 26-save shutout in Grand Rapids in another 4-0 win. Then came the Viktor Stålberg score at 0.4 seconds and overtime winner for the hat trick in a 3-2 game. In fact, that last game was documented by the Griffins on the road for their series Between the Benches:
The Griffins power-play against the Admirals this season is 3/36 (8.3%) and their penalty kill is 31/32 (96.9%). That penalty kill has also scored a shorthanded goal against the Admirals this season.
The Griffins will be without top notch scorers Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro tonight. They’re both up with the Detroit Red Wings. Those two were the Griffins leading scorers in the head-to-head match up against the Admirals: Ferraro, 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist)… Pulkkinen, 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist).
Why doesn’t that matter? There are still three other Griffins who have scored 4 points against the Admirals this season: Andy Miele, 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)… Mark Zengerle, 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)… Nathan Paetsch, 4 points (0 goals, 4 assists).
Miele leads the Griffins in scoring this season with 65 points (23 goals, 42 assists). There are still plenty of other players contributing. Probably the reason why the Griffins have been so lethal this season as there isn’t any one key cog on the team: Kevin Porter, 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists)… Anthony Mantha, 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists)… Andreas Athanasiou, 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists).
The Griffins have nine players with 30 points or more and have ten players with double-digit goals on the season. The Admirals by comparison have six players with 30 points or more and have eight players with double-digit goals.
Both Griffins goaltenders have played the Admirals three times this season: Coreau has a 1.28 goals against average, 0.949 save percentage, and a shutout. McCollum has a 2.02 goals against average and a 0.918 save percentage.
The bulk of games in net have been going to McCollum lately. Since March he has played in ten of the Griffins fourteen games. Coreau might have the better numbers against the Admirals but has two starts in the Griffins last nineteen games.
The term “Admirals Killer” can go to someone the likes of Mrázek for all the damage he has done. The term “Griffins Killer” can just as easily go to Colton Sissons for how lethal he has been against Grand Rapids. In seventeen games against the Griffins Sissons has scored 12 points (10 goals, 2 assists). 26.1% of Sissons goals this season have come against the Griffins.
What will the Admirals need to do to earn a win over the Griffins on the road tonight? If the Admirals lose in regulation again would that be a nail in the coffin? After Mazanec was pulled from net last night would you stick with him or switch to Hellberg?