The Milwaukee Admirals 3-0 shutout of the Charlotte Checkers was their second consecutive shutout. The shutout streak for the Admirals, which features both Marek Mazanec and Juuse Saros, currently stands at 146:59 of ice time. Considering how hot Mazanec has been, limiting his young Finnish battery-mate’s appearances in net lately, it was an impressive game by Saros to play as calmly as he did in what was only his sixth start of the 2016 calendar year. Mazanec made that many starts in January. Saros has been playing the role of good teammate as the hot hand was being played, was given the opportunity on the front of a two-in-two to shine, and did. Brilliantly done.
The Admirals win made them the first team in the Western Conference to reach 31 wins this season. And, factoring in however the tiebreaks work in the AHL these days, the Admirals should now be on top of both the Central Division and Western Conference standings as they are in a grueling three-way tie with the Rockford IceHogs and Ontario Reign – who all have a 0.677 points percentage. The Admirals have more regulation wins. The Admirals have the head-to-head advantage over the IceHogs. The Reign play eight-less games than the rest of the AHL because they’re evil. It all makes sense to me.
~Not So Grand Griffins~
The Grand Rapids Griffins enter tonight’s game with a record of 27-19-1-1 56 points). Their 0.583 points percentage sees them sitting in fourth place in the Central Division standings and sixth place in the Western Conference standings.
Over their last ten-games the Griffins have gone 3-7-0-0 (6 points). The team has fluctuated pretty harshly in that time so it is always hard to gauge what sort of Griffins team will enter and exit. They started off this ten-game span with two straight shutout losses but are fully capable of a game such as a 9-1 thrashing of the Rockford IceHogs as the road team. Up. Down. Everywhere up but mostly down. Weird times.
What the Griffins are probably banking on is tonight’s match-up, at home against the Admirals, where they have won all three-games played while outscoring the Admirals 11-3. If the head-to-head in that building isn’t enough the Griffins also get a tired Admirals team that have traveled a long bus trip from Milwaukee to Grand Rapids after having shutout the Checkers last night. This will be the Admirals third-game in four-days and fourth-game in six-days. The Admirals are setup for a slight bit of a gas tank issue tonight if the Griffins, who last played on Sunday to finish off a three-in-three, play their cards right.
That being said, the last time these two teams met might have been one of the better performances of the season from the Admirals. They beatdown the Griffins 7-3 and finally put a solid dent to the Admiral Killer status of goaltender Jared Coreau who stopped 19/23 shots on goal before being pulled from the net in favor of Tom McCollum. Let this be a silver lining that despite the wear of recent games – the Griffins current stumbling form and Admirals last match-up might see the Ads take their first win in Grand Rapids this season.
~Who What Now?~
The Griffins leading scorer right now is Andy Miele with 35 points (9 goals, 26 assists) in 48 games. He is closely followed by the team’s top two goal scorers: Eric Tangradi with 33 points (17 goals, 16 assists) and Martin Frk with 29 points (19 goals, 10 assists).
When looking at the head-to-head numbers this season the name Louis-Marc Aubry comes up as the Griffins top scorer against the Admirals. That’s a slight eyebrow raiser when you consider his season to date has him at a modest 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) through 47 games. Yet, when he has played against the Admirals, Aubry has scored 7 points (6 goals, 1 assist) in 6 games. Quite impressive to see that 2/3 of his goals on the season have come against the Admirals.
Expectations for tonight’s game? Are you concerned that fatigue will get the better of the Admirals in this game? How important is it for the Admirals to win their first game of the season in Grand Rapids tonight?