Wild: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
The Iowa Wild have had a season much like this photo. They’re trying really hard but just can’t get it right. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Bad News? Last night’s game wasn’t pretty. The Good News? The Milwaukee Admirals can instantly forget all about it because they play this afternoon. Huzzah!

Yes, there isn’t much that the Admirals can take from last night with pride into today’s game. Yes, they did lose to a team with a bad record in the Manitoba Moose and they face another one of those bad eggs today. But hockey is an odd sport at times and, in a long season, even the lowest of the low teams in the standings have their day. The Moose are currently having far more than just a day as they’re now on a four-game winning streak and six-game point streak. The team today… not so much.

~These Blokes Again?~

The Iowa Wild enter this afternoon’s game with a record of 16-30-3-3 (38 points). Their 0.365 points percentage has them last place of the Central Division and Western Conference standings. They have the worst record in the AHL.

It was only one week ago to the day when the Admirals and Wild last played. That game had a fair bit of scramble attached to it from the Wild side of things due to a coaching change within the organization. Last week’s game was the first for the Wild under the guidance of interim head coach David Cunniff. The Wild were on the receiving end of a twenty-three save shutout by Marek Mazanec in a 2-0 loss. After that they’ve only played one other game and were able to beat the Chicago Wolves in overtime 3-2.

Similar to the game played against the Admirals – the Wild did a solid job limiting damage to themselves when they beat the Wolves on the road. They allowed two goals inside the game’s opening ten-minutes but nothing after that. They scored forty-four seconds after the Wolves second goal and proceeded to play a tight defensive game that limited the Wolves to 25 shots on goal. It’s not pretty but it worked. Outside of the goal for Kevin Fiala in last week’s game they actually played that style of a game even better because they limited the Admirals to 23 shots on goal.

The Wild lack firepower so they need to rely on smart defense, making limited mistakes and trips to the penalty box, and being able to take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes with counter attacks or power-play chances. With a quick turn-around for the Admirals taking place today, and the Wild not having played since Thursday night, I have to believe the Wild stick to their defending and look to leap on the Admirals later in the contest when they should have just a little more explosiveness in their step.

~Who What Now?~

In the scoring department the Wild do have three players above 30 points this season: Zack Mitchell, 32 points (19 goals, 13 assists) in 52 games… Grayson Downing, 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 35 games… Jordan Schroeder, 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in 33 games.

The Wild have Leland Irving and Steve Michaelek as options in net with Irving being the go-to option. In 27 games this season Irving has a record of 8-15-3-2, a 2.68 goals against average, 0.914 save percentage, and a shutout. Michalek has only played in 4 games since arriving from the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL and has provided a record of 3-1-0-0 for the Wild with a 2.02 goals against average and 0.945 save percentage.

What are your expectations for this afternoon’s game? Is today the day the Milwaukee Admirals offense gets back on track? What do the Admirals need to do to avoid another defensively trapped game against the Iowa Wild?

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