It feels like a long time since the Milwaukee Admirals last played. That’s both a great and potentially bad thing. Whenever there are long layoffs such as this the bodies get to rest up and, consequently, rust up. The Admirals should start tonight’s game with a little bit of lag but I have to believe many players desperately needed time to physically and mentally recover some energy. This recent down time has allowed for that and, hopefully, it means a more electric performance than what has been put together these last six games.
~Fiala Fiala Fiala~
In last night’s Nashville Predators game Kevin Fiala scored his first career goal and it came from his first shift of the 2015-16 season at the NHL level. Talk about showing everyone instantly why you were recalled and what you can do, eh? He logged 17:48 of ice time and was taking part on the Predators top line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal. On a fun side note, the first career NHL goal for Fiala came just one-day ahead of his one-year anniversary of being assigned to the Admirals to kick start his North American professional playing career.
Unfortunately, the Predators are going through perhaps an even more rough slump than the Admirals lately and they would fall 5-4 (OT) on the road to the Winnipeg Jets despite a massive rally to force the overtime period. It just seems to be tough sledding system wide right now. Something to take our minds off of that? THIS.
~San Anton’ Ya’ll~
The San Antonio Rampage enter this two-game set against the Admirals with a record of 16-15-7-0 (39 points). Their 0.513 points percentage has them currently in sixth place of the Pacific Division and eleventh in the Western Conference standings.
If the recent spell for the Admirals has you down – suck it up. The Rampage have had a far worse run of form. Dating back to the start of December the Rampage have gone 5-12-1-0 which spans their last 18 games. In a division where quite a few teams above the Rampage will be playing 8 less games, CALIFORNIA, that’s a borderline playoff killing run already. This is a team that should be playing desperate because they need to get back on course now before things become less borderline and more a matter of fact.
~So Far This Season~
The Admirals and Rampage have only played once so far this season. That first exchange took place here in Milwaukee and ended with a 6-3 Admirals win. You might recall that contest as the night Jamie Devane made Daniel Maggio rethink fighting against the Admirals ever again.
It’s also worth noting that in that game a guy by the name of Viktor Arvidsson played for the Admirals. He scored twice from the power-play in that game. He makes his return to the Admirals lineup tonight for the first time since 11/27/15. Also of note from that game was Vladislav Kamenev producing a pair of assists. He will be back for the Admirals tonight for the first time since 12/15/15 when he left to participate as team captain of Russia in the 2016 IIHF World Juniors.
One person who did score a goal for the Admirals in that game will not be taking part of course. Conor Allen‘s lone goal scored this season came against the Rampage and he was traded for Patrick Mullen yesterday in one of those weird NHL clubs trading AHL players trades. It’s possible that both Mullen and the recently cleared from waivers Cody Hodgson could make the Admirals debut as part of this San Antonio road swing that takes place tonight and tomorrow night.
~What About The Other Guys?~
The Rampage have four players with 20+ points of offense: Colin Smith, 29 points (11 goals, 17 assists)… Mikko Rantanen, 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists)… Joey Hishon, 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists)… Maxim Noreau, 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists).
That list is followed by six other players all closely matched to the 20 points produced plateau so the Rampage aren’t exactly lacking for offense. What can be noted though is scoring isn’t everything. The Rampage have produced 110 goals this season but allowed 118 goals. Only the Texas Stars (136), Binghamton Senators (121), Rochester Americans (120), St. John’s IceCaps (120), and Iowa Wild (118) have allowed more or as many goals as a team in the entire AHL this season.
In net the Rampage have gone to Calvin Pickard (Chet‘s brother) more than any other goaltender this season. Good news, he isn’t an issue tonight as he is currently up with the Colorado Avalance where he picked up his first career NHL shutout last night. That means leaning on the likes of Roman Will and Spencer Martin. Both have played 10 games evenly with varying results. Will: 4-2-2-0 record, 478:21 minutes in net, 3.89 goals against average, and a 0.883 save percentage… Martin: 3-5-1-0, 555:25 minutes in net, 2.92 goals against average, 0.910 save percentage, and has earned a shutout once this season.
Expectations for this two-in-two in San Antonio? Can the current skid of losing five of the last six games get put to bed? Will the time off help or hurt the Milwaukee Admirals? Will it be a giant boost to get so many players back?