Monsters: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

“Hey, you. I don’t like you.” ~Jamie Devane /probably (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

It is that time again when you get your pre-game scout for a Milwaukee Admirals game the day before it happens. Why? Because AM Hockey tomorrow at the BMO Harris Bradley Center that’s why.

If the Admirals play half as well as they did in their AM game last week in Iowa then all attending this game should be treated to a great one. The Admirals shutout the Wild 3-0 with Juuse Saros in net. With Marek Mazanec up in Nashville the same storyline has the potential to play out once more. Still, the Lake Erie Monsters provided a playoff like atmosphere when they met the Admirals last Friday. No matter if it’s coffee, Red Bull, or all-natural enthusiasm I believe these two will deliver a similar gritty game regardless of the early start time.

Lake Erie has a record of 6-2-0-2 (14 points) and are in second place of the Central Division. The Monsters have won twice since they lost to the Admirals and will be entering this game following a 3-2 comeback win on the road against the Wild played on Sunday. Iowa was able to score twice in the opening five-minutes of the game but a late first period goal for Lake Erie provided enough of a boost heading into the second period for them to tally twice – including a game-winner shorthanded goal scored by Josh Anderson. In the third period the Monsters outshot the Wild 7-1 to cruise to that final scoreline.

The Monsters have the fifth best power-play unit in the AHL: 9/38 (23.7%). That figure is just about as good when their power-play takes to the road: 5/22 (22.7%). Their opposite end of special teams, penalty killing, is also ranked fifth best in the league, 40/45 (88.9%), and they have scored two shorthanded goals on the season.

When we last met, the Monsters were playing without their leading scorer Kerby Rychel in the lineup as he was with the Columbus Blue Jackets at the time. That isn’t going to be the case tomorrow morning because Rychel is back in the AHL. He has scored 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 8 games this season for the Monsters.

Not far behind Rychel in team scoring is a group of names tied at 6 points of offense: Michael Chaput, 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists)… Andrew Bodnarchuk, 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists)… Ryan Craig, (2 goals, 4 assists)… Markus Hännikäinen, 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists)… Also, small footnote, not too far behind on the team scoring list is the Monsters’ lone goal scorer against the Admirals last Friday Alex Broadhurst who has 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists).

When looking back at the first meeting between these two teams there was some chippy stuff that took place. Cody Bass dropped the gloves with Brett Gallant. Jamie Devane tried to fight against Oleg Yevenko but the referees had other plans (video). That prompted the best photo taken this season.  Then Devane and Yevenko had at it for realsies and the referees thought about where the best place to get a steak after the game ended would be (video). Could there be more of the same on the horizon? I don’t know but my gut says maybe.

Anton Forsberg was the man between the pipes for the Monsters when the faced the Admirals last Friday. He stopped 20/22 shots on goal. One of the goals he allowed was a one-timed bomb scored by Viktor Arvidsson at his sweet spot on the power-play. Since that game the Monsters rotated goalies back and forth while on the road in Iowa with Joonas Korpisalo getting the Saturday game and Forsberg getting the Sunday game. Korpisalo stopped 35/37 shots on goal and didn’t allow a shootout goal to pick up the win. Forsberg stopped 14/16 shots on goal but played shutout hockey from the fifth minute of the game all the way until the finish.

On the Admirals end of things this game gets an interesting shake up thanks to a few injuries up top for the Nashville Predators. It isn’t the biggest thing in the world that Saros gets the net for this game but not having team captain Colton Sissons might thin things out a slight bit. The good news? The Admirals are incredibly deep down the middle at the center position so that isn’t that huge of an issue. Yet, Sissons was leading the team in scoring at the time of his recall to the Predators so that’s where others will need to step up. One or two or the current population of Nashville might suggest Kevin Fiala or Stevie Moses would do well to contribute here.

Thoughts going into this game? Can the Admirals push their winning streak to four games? Without Sissons, who do you feel needs to step up in his place for the time being? Will you be able to attend this inaugural AM event for the Milwaukee Admirals?

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