The Milwaukee Admirals were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday night. So what’s left to play for? For starters, why not get some revenge against the team that swept the Admirals out of last season’s playoffs and prevented them from getting into this season’s playoffs?
The Toronto Marlies enter tonight’s game with a record of 37-27-9-0 (83 points). Their mission is simple. Win tonight and they punch their playoff ticket to lockout the Eastern Conference.
First things first, because I have to point a finger at something I find incredible this late in the season, the Marlies have not lost in the shootout this season. There are only two other teams in the entire league that can say the same: Syracuse Crunch and Hamilton Bulldogs. The Marlies won their only shootout of the season while the Chicago Wolves lost their one and only shootout this season and the Bulldogs -still- have yet to play in a shootout. The Admirals… *sad violin* have played in eight shootouts this season and lost six times.
In the Marlies last ten games they have gone 7-3-0-0 including wins in their last four straight games. During the four game win streak they have outscored teams 20-8 with a power-play that has gone 6/16. The game they played on Tuesday night in Iowa was the first first penalty-free game in the AHL in more than three years. You’d have to go back to the 2011-12 season when a team named the Peoria Rivermen played the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Brendan Leipsic will play against his former-teammates tonight for the first time since he was traded by the Nashville Predators back in mid-February. I had made mention of it. The date in which he was traded, paired with the season ending injury to Miikka Salomäki, really signaled the beginning of the end to the Admirals 2014-15 season. Ever since those two left the fold the Admirals have gone 4-14-4-2.
How has Leipsic done since the trade to Toronto? It seems to be a tale of three different parts. At first, Leipsic hit the ground running. He scored points in five of his first six games as a member of the Marlies, 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists), but then went on a cold spell. Leipsic went the next thirteen games with only an assist to his name. It’s the current form that he is on that made him this week’s CCM/AHL Player of the Week. In his last five games he has 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) – including a hat trick performance against the Adirondack Flames.
~Him Again, Too!~
T.J. Brennan was part of a trade that took him from the Rockford IceHogs and brought him back to the Marlies – with whom he won the Eddie Shore Award with last season as the AHL’s top defenseman. The man he was traded for was Spencer Abbott who has since exploded for 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) in 17 games. It wasn’t a bad deal, mind you. Brennan’s points per game with Toronto (0.67) is better than it was in Rockford (0.75).
In my time following Brennan in the AHL he is nearly more of a forward than a defenseman. He actively steps up from the point and gets involved on the offense and, in his time with the IceHogs, was punishing the Admirals by doing just that: 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) in 11 games. I would expect more of the same from him up and down the left side of the ice.
With the playoff pressure off now, how do you expect the Admirals to play tonight against the Marlies? To you, what are the Admirals playing for in these last two games of the season?