Call it unlucky. Call it making your own luck. Either way, the Manitoba Moose and their awful record seem to get the better of the Milwaukee Admirals. The Moose have a 5-14-1-1 (12 points) record this season. Of those wins, they’ve gone two for two against the Admirals in Milwaukee this season.
It’s bizarre to think that once again the Admirals are struggling against a lower level opponent. Last season’s thorn in the side was the Iowa Wild with their league worst record of 23-49-2-2 (50 points) but 5-3-0-0 record against the Admirals. It already feels like this year’s version of the Wild are the Moose. So, who is playing up to the competition level: the Admirals or the Moose?
To get an understanding of how well the Moose have played against the Admirals this season I broke down their Shooting Percentage (Goals Forced / Shots on Goals) team-by-team. This is how the Moose have performed against all their opponents this season:
Charlotte: 12.8% (5 goals, 39 shots on goal, 2 games)
Milwaukee: 10.7% (6 goals, 56 shots on goal, 2 games)
Bakersfield: 6.6% (4 goals, 61 shots on goal, 2 games)
Toronto: 6.1% (6 goals, 98 shots on goal, 2 games)
Chicago: 6.1% (9 goals, 148 shots on goal, 5 games)
Lake Erie: 4.1% (4 goals, 97 shots on goal, 4 games)
Ontario: 2.7% (1 goal, 37 shots on goal, 2 games)
The Moose still have the lowest scoring offense in the AHL. The next closest to their 35 goals forced as a team this season are the Wild with 49 goals forced. For as cold as they’ve been their finishing rate against the Admirals has been lethal. As you can see, only their two-in-two weekend series against the Charlotte Checkers yielded better results than the two games in Milwaukee did.
In a nutshell, the Admirals defense needs to be so much better in front of their goaltending duo of Juuse Saros and Marek Mazanec. To be allowing a higher clip of a goal from every ten shots on target against a team so frozen in the goal scoring department is unacceptable. The Admirals need to tighten up on defense, avoid blunders in the neutral zone, keep turnovers to a minimum, and not force their goaltenders to bail them out of odd-man rushes caused by mistakes in transition.
As you might suspect out of all that lack of offense talk for the Manitoba Moose – there obviously isn’t too much going on in the individual scoring department. The Admirals have seven players on their roster with double digit points of offense so far this season: Viktor Arvidsson, Frédérick Gaudreau, Vladislav Kamenev, Max Reinhart, Taylor Aronson, Trevor Murphy, and Adam Payerl. The Moose only have three players with double digit points of offense: J.C. Lipon, 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists)… Brenden Kichton, 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists)… and first-year pro Chase De Leo, 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists).
It’s worth noting that former member of the Admirals Matt Halischuk has been pesky in this head-to-head match up so far this season. It’s only been a pair of games but Halischuk’s only goals scored this season have come against the Admirals. On both occasions he scored the opening goal of the game from a first period tally. From his opening period goals the Moose have held a 2-0 first period lead in both games against the Admirals. Perhaps clamping down on the one-time Predators prospect would help the Admirals out this weekend.
The Moose are still without Connor Hellebuyck who is currently stationed up in the NHL. He started in net for the Winnipeg Jets last night in their 2-0 shutout defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks. That probably leaves Eric Comrie as the man the Moose will turn to this weekend. He has played all but one of the Moose’s last nine-games played since Hellebuyck’s call up and played against the Admirals in previous meeting between the two teams. He stopped 30/32 shots on goal against the Admirals in that game. He followed that up with a stinker where he allowed 8 goals to the Chicago Wolves. He has since made a rebound start where he stopped 33/35 shots in a losing effort to the Toronto Marlies.
Expectations for this weekend? How do you feel Petter Granberg will perform in his first taste of game-action this season? Will the Admirals offense rebound after a rough outing in Grand Rapids?