The Milwaukee Admirals have had two days to rest up following their 4-1 loss on the road to the Grand Rapids Griffins. During that time they’ve managed to get sole possession of first place in the Central Division. How did they do that? With a little help from tonight’s guest at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
~Moose Plural Should Be Meese~
The Manitoba Moose enter tonight’s game with a record of 15-27-4-5 (39 points). Their 0.382 points percentage sees them currently sitting in seventh place of the Central Division and fourteenth in the Western Conference standings.
At the moment the Moose are actually on a bit of a good run. They are on a five-game point streak in which they’ve gone 3-0-1-1 with a three-game winning streak. Of note, that win streak includes a 3-2 regulation victory on the road last night against the Rockford IceHogs. That defeat helped see the Admirals take full claim to the Central Division throne. Not to mention, the run that the Moose have gone on has helped them jump the Iowa Wild in the standings to get out of the cellar as the team with the worst record in the AHL this season.
During this five-game stretch the Moose have: scored 21 goals, their power-play has gone an impressive 26.7% (4/15), their penalty kill has gone 95.7% (22/23), and they’ve been heavily outshot 185-147. That’s an average of allowing 37 shots on goal per game over this five-game point streak.
What leaps out to me is their special teams. They’ve made the most of their opportunities with an extra man and that penalty kill of their’s has been quite impressive. The Moose had killed 22 penalties consecutively until finally conceding a power-play goal from Cameron Schilling with 22-seconds remaining in regulation. If the Admirals power-play is hoping to snap out of a bad run of four straight games without a power-play goal, going twelve power-plays without a goal, they will be pushed to earn it. Speaking of which…
~Curse These Meese!~
The Admirals over the past few seasons have had some battles against teams with some of the lower standings in the AHL. I’m not sure why that is but, this season, both bottom-dwellers of the Central Division have had a fair go against them – especially Manitoba.
This season the Moose are 3-1-0-1 against the Admirals. They won the first two-games they played in Milwaukee this season but did drop a 7-5 goal fest upon their last visit. It really wasn’t until that last game between these two where the Moose actually cracked. They have absorbed so much of the damage the Admirals had been dishing out. The Admirals have averaged 34.8 shots on goal in five-games against the Moose. The Admirals have only averaged 27.4 shots on goal over their last five-games leading up to tonight. Perhaps some R&R time for two-days and this Moose team are just what the Admirals need to get the offense back and roaring, eh? The Admirals have only scored 4 goals as a team, not counting the empty netters, in their last three-games. That needs to change otherwise the pressure of results fall squarely on the shoulders of Marek Mazanec and Juuse Saros night after night. As good as they’ve been they could use some help up front.
~Who What Now?~
The leading scorer for the Moose is first-year pro Chase De Leo who has produced 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 51 games this season. In the head-to-head with the Admirals this season De Leo is the leading scorer for the Moose with 5 points (4 goals, 1 assist) in 5 games. That includes scoring a hat trick these two sides met up in late-December. The Admirals top scorer in this match-up is Kevin Fiala with 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 5 games.
The Moose currently pack a proper one-two punch in net as Connor Hellebuyck rejoins Eric Comrie and his pals at the AHL level after having played for the Winnipeg Jets since late-November. Since returning, Hellebuyck has split the work load by playing two of four games in net and has won both games in impressive fashion by stopping 69/73 shots on goal for a 0.945 save percentage and a 2.01 goals against average. This isn’t to say Comrie hasn’t been the lesser of the two goaltenders and shouldn’t be counted out for the start tonight. But, it is worth noting that Comrie played last night for the Moose to earn his eleventh win of the season as he stopped 37/39 against the IceHogs. I could see the Moose keeping with Comrie as a hot hand off of that performance or going with the fresher of the two options – Hellebuyck.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Do you think the two-day break will give the Milwaukee Admirals a bit of a boost after some slowly paced games for the offense?
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