Before games were played in the AHL on Wednesday night the Milwaukee Admirals had the third longest points streak in the division, the Chicago Wolves had the second longest points streak in the division, and the Rockford IceHogs had the longest points streak in the division. As of today the lone streak standing goes to the Admirals. You can give an assist to the Grand Rapids Griffins for ending the IceHogs run Wednesday night.
~The Oinking Enemies~
The IceHogs enter tonight’s game with a record of 9-4-1-1 (20 points). Their 0.667 points percentage slots them in fourth place of the Central Division which is just behind the Admirals who have a 0.679 points percentage.
With the IceHogs ten-game points streak (8-0-1-1) now over you’d expect them to be attempting to get right back on track tonight after a sloppy performance in Grand Rapids. Even the goals the IceHogs scored on Wednesday night were rough to watch. As was them allowing the game-winning goal 34 seconds after tying the game halfway through the third period. They should be very hungry to right the wrongs from that game.
This will be the third meeting between the Admirals and IceHogs this season. The first game took place in Milwaukee and ended with a 4-2 IceHogs win. The second contest happened in Rockford and ended with Trevor Murphy‘s first career pro goal to give the Admirals a 3-2 win in overtime.
You can easily argue that the Admirals are a much different team than the one that lost to the IceHogs in Milwaukee the first go around. The sad truth is, despite not being at their best, the Admirals almost pulled that game out of the bag. They tied the game up a 2-2 with 9:41 remaining in regulation only to have a bizarre puck kick up off of Vladislav Kamenev and unleash Marko Dano for the game-winning breakaway goal only 1:21 of ice time after the game was equalized.
The last time these two met featured what was in my eyes Marek Mazanec‘s best performance with the Admirals. He was brilliant. Mazanec stopped 35/37 shots and allowed for the Admirals to keep the game tight until winning in overtime. It was shortly after that effort that Mazanec was recalled by the Nashville Predators to fill in while Carter Hutton was placed on injured reserve. If there were ever a good night to give Juuse Saros a rest it might be tonight to see if Mazanec can deliver the goods against the IceHogs once more.
~Who What Now?~
The current leading points scorer on the IceHogs is defenseman Ville Pokka with 9 points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 15 games. That production from the blueline is impressive but it takes a backseat to what Bryan Bickell has been able to do since arriving from the Chicago Blackhawks. Bickell has only played 5 games in the AHL this season but has scored 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists). He’s been on a tear and has scored at least a point in each game he has played since his assignment to the IceHogs.
In net, it has mainly been the Michael Leighton show for the IceHogs. The veteran goaltender has played in 12 games this season and has a record of 8-3-1-0, 2.38 goals against average, 0.921 save percentage, and a shutout to his name. The last time the Admirals and IceHogs played though it wasn’t Leighton in net it was a student of Ben Vanderklok by the name of Mark Visentin in net. In that game he matched up with Mazanec very well by stopping 37/40 shots on goal – taking the overtime loss in the process. That was the last time he started in net as these last three games have belonged to Leighton.
~Just So You Snow~
In non-game topic news, Southeastern Wisconsin is expected to be hit with some snow tonight right around game-time. The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch yesterday for the occasion and upwards of three-inches of snow is possible in downtown Milwaukee. Make sure you drive smart, be safe, and plan accordingly.
UPDATE. It’s now become a Winter Storm Warning that can deliver up to nine-inches of snow. So. That’s fun.
Thoughts on tonight’s game? Will the Admirals points and/or winning-streak end tonight? Would you attempt to start Mazanec over Saros or continue to let the young Finn do his thing?