Wolves: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
Since the Amtrak Rivalry last took place, Milwaukee Admirals netminder Juuse Saros had his name mispronounced so badly that he became Juusesaurus Rex. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Two of the Milwaukee Admirals stiffest opponents this season have been the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Manitoba Moose. The Admirals caught the Griffins on two sides of their current eleven-game winning streak so I think it’s safe to give credit to a hot team. The Moose haven’t been a hot team against really anyone other than the Admirals this season but that mystery was finally solved on Sunday. That sets a bit of a stage for tonight’s game with the Chicago Wolves because, like the Admirals, it’s been a topsy-turvy time for both Amtrak Rivals.

~The Woeful Wolves~

The Wolves enter tonight’s game with a record of 11-9-1-2 (25 points). Their 0.543 points percentage sees them sitting in fifth place in the Central Division and eighth in the Western Conference.

If you feel that the roster turn-over has impacted the Admirals performances badly I encourage you to view the following. During the Wolves last thirteen-games they have gone 3-8-1-1 (8 points). In that span the only significant roster changes that took place was a one-week cup of coffee for Jeremy Welsh with the St. Louis Blues and a defensive swap that saw Petteri Lindbohm go up and Joel Edmundson go down. That’s it. This recent struggle is occurring completely with the full-squad in camp for the Chicago Wolves.

~Goaltending Tandem~

The ups and downs are of course going to be reflected in net for the Wolves. Their pairing of Jordan Binnington and Pheonix Copley has been grinding along with the presumed top dog Binnington not shining as of late.

Binnington’s numbers since November: 8 starts, 3-4-0-1 record, 2.79 goals against average, 0.904 save percentage, and 1 shutout.

Copley’s numbers since November: 9 starts, 4-4-1-0 record, 2.38 goals against average, 0.918 save percentage, and 1 shutout.

In particular I find Binnington’s stretch the most interesting purely based on how dominant he was against the Admirals last season: 7 starts, 7-0-0-0 record, 1.94 goals against average, and a 0.930 save percentage. That trickled into his first start against the Admirals this season but he has since taken two straight defeats (one in regulation and one in a shootout). Now that some hard pressure is being put down on him, with the competition of Copley nudging him out of the net for more playing time, it seems he’s wilting somewhat. I would expect his track record against the Admirals puts him in the net tonight. If not? That’s a bigger sign by the Wolves that their confidence level right now is shaken and they’re looking for the more stable option in Copley at this moment in time.

~The Question Mark Offense~

What’s funny about these last thirteen-games for the Wolves is that there offense isn’t necessarily bad but they either score in bunches or hardly at all. In that span the Wolves have averaged 2.4 goals per game. In the Admirals last thirteen games they’ve averaged 2.7 goals per game (eliminate that extra marker for wins from the shootout, folks). So, they’re close but games when the Wolves win 8-2 are balanced out with efforts like they’re last game when they lose 2-1. Again, the word for the Wolves really seems to be inconsistency.

The Wolves have ten players with double digit points of offense on their active roster heading into tonight’s game. They’re currently led in that department by defenseman André Benoît who has 20 points (3 goals, 17 assists) in 23 games this season. As far as goal scoring goes, both Ty Rattie and Danny Kristo have tallied a team best 8 goals playing out on the wing for the Wolves.

Expectations for tonight? Does the last game between these two, where the Admirals stretched roster still got the shootout victory, have you feeling confident in tonight’s result?

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