When I woke up yesterday and gave a good thought about the Milwaukee Admirals clashing with the Grand Rapids Griffins the only thing I wanted to see was a win. It didn’t matter how ugly. It didn’t matter if they blew a lead and won in overtime or a shootout. It just mattered that the Admirals find a way to beat the Griffins for both confidence sake and to send a message back towards Grand Rapids that this isn’t a free pass of a head-to-head this season.
Monday night, the Admirals -as I put it- out Wolves’d the Wolves. They played a very physically demanding game, weren’t shy to get under players skin, but played a veteran type of performance that kept a reliable and steady hand on the scoreline to get a regulation win.
Last night, who would have called the Admirals to have out Griffins’d the Griffins?
The Griffins in the first two meetings this season should have skated off the ice, both times, with shutout wins. They throttled the Admirals and left them with next to no hope of scoring chances. The Griffins defense was tight. They blocked shots. The forced bad shots that were either too far away or allowed for easy access of puck sight-lines for Jared Coreau to read the shot or set up passes. Through all of that, their defensive work rate is what established offensive counters, dominant puck control deep in attacking territory to grind out the defense and create penalties and power-play chances, and scored timely goals to earn a lead – cushion a lead – and seal a win. Does that sound familiar? Because that’s exactly the game the Admirals threw back in the Griffins face last night.
For the first time in three chances the Admirals played with confidence against a team that should really have all the confidence in the world. The Griffins lost one game that ended a winning streak, sure. But that winning streak lasted for fifteen-games. That’s still the same team on the ice and, if anything, you’d have expected a hard push back on their part. The Admirals played smart, they played controlling, and they excelled at all aspects of the game last night against a team that couldn’t be solved for over a month’s worth of hockey. The Admirals pushed aside their current winning streak and firmly focused one proving to themselves they can beat the Griffins – and they did. They beat them at even strength. They beat them on the power-play. And, probably the best of all from last night’s action, they beat them on the penalty kill.
In a season nearing its halfway point this was a masterclass of a performance by the Admirals. It really was a solid and complete game from top to bottom. Now, here is the catch. The Admirals face the Griffins in Grand Rapids tomorrow night. As much of a high as last night’s performance feels like it can all get quickly lost if the Admirals fall back into the same pitfall that they did previously in Grand Rapids. To use my “keep it simple, stupid” philosophy: approach that game as they did the one prior. It’s a challenge. An important point that needs to be proved within a tight and competitive division. If the Admirals really want to send a powerful message back at the Griffins they not only win on home ice they earn that first road win in Grand Rapids this season. The last time the Admirals won in Grand Rapids was five-attempts ago back on 1/31/15. That will be exactly eleven months to the day tomorrow when the Admirals and Griffins square off in Grand Rapids. That needs to change. And I believe the Admirals have their sights set on accomplishing just that.
After the conclusion of last night’s game, myself and Dave Boehler spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then chatted with Marek Mazanec, Kevin Fiala, and Max Görtz to hear their perspective on the game and much more. Here is what they had to say after the Admirals 3-0 shutout performance over the Griffins last night.
Comments on the comments? What are you taking away from the Milwaukee Admirals current five-game winning streak? With the 2015 side of the calendar coming to a close on Thursday night: what are some of your positives and negatives on the season to date?