Wild: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Reese Strickland // USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo Credit: Reese Strickland // USA TODAY Sports)

The Grand Rapids Griffins have the Milwaukee Admirals number. That’s troubling. No doubt about it. But ignore them for now because they won’t be a problem again until the last game of this month.

What concerns me a little bit is this current run the Admirals have been on. They have lost four out of their last five games. They are no longer in first place of the Western Conference. They are no longer in first place of the Central Division.

In these last five games the Admirals have been shutout twice. They have scored seven goals and it wasn’t until last night when they scored at even strength – they did that twice. Around that they’ve scored twice on the power-play, once at four-on-four, on a penalty shot, and with an empty netter. What’s concerning should be that the Admirals can’t handle the Griffins defensive pressure and tightness as much as it is everyone right now. The Admirals are losing losing the five-on-five battles which is simply uncharacteristic to say the least. That absolutely needs to change.

~The Iowa Mild~

Perhaps some relief from recent games can be found in the form of the Iowa Wild. This will be their first journey to Milwaukee of four games for the Wild this season. The Admirals have already trekked down to Iowa and have taken at least a point from all games played: 10/20/15, Admirals win 3-2 (OT)… 10/31/15, Admirals lose 3-2 (OT)… 11/5/15, Admirals win 3-0.

The Wild enter tonight’s game with the worst record in the entire league: 8-23-2-3 (21 points) for a 0.292 points percentage. It feels like I always say something along the lines of “worst” or “last place” with Iowa but they generally always match up well against the Admirals and play tight games. I don’t understand why that is. And the Wild have gone, for their standards, an extremely outstanding 3-1-0-0 in their last four games. Perhaps I should use the term “relief” lightly.

~Who What Now~

The first place I feel worth looking at for the Wild is in goal. You might think former Admirals goaltender Jeremy Smith has been their go-to workhorse this season but he’s actually been outplayed by Leland Irving.

Irving has played more games in net this season than Smith with 5-12-3-2 record from 21 appearances, 2.69 goals against average, 0.915 save percentage, and a shutout. Smith has appeared in 17 games and has a rough record of 3-11-2-1 to go along with a 3.10 goals against average and 0.909 save percentage. Though, it is worth noting that Smith did take home CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors to cap off December.

As far as team scoring goes, the Wild are the second lowest goal scoring team in the AHL with only 73 goals scored all season. The team with the lowest amount scored are the Manitoba Moose with 65 goals scored. So, you would imagine the individual statistics from a team like the Wild differ from a team like the Admirals – and you’d be right! The Admirals have thirteen players with double-digit points totals with two into the 20+ points figure. The Wild have seven players with double digit points and the closest man to the 20 point plateau for them is Switzerland native Christoph Bertschy who has a team best 19 points (4 goals, 15 assists).

Can the Milwaukee Admirals get out of their current three-game skid tonight? What would a loss to the Iowa Wild mean to you? How important would it be for the Admirals to get back Vladislav Kamenev?

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