Wild: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
Patrick Mullen has returned to practice for the past week for the Milwaukee Admirals. Tonight could mark his first game back to the lineup since suffering a nasty skate cut on 2/21/16. The team that he suffered the skate cut against? The Iowa Wild. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Right now the Milwaukee Admirals schedule is setting up for a fun ol’ time. This weekend will be a three-in-three weekend starting with tonight’s game at home against the Iowa Wild, tomorrow night on the road against the Chicago Wolves, and then finishing with the Wild on Sunday in Iowa. Look ahead one-week and the Admirals get yet another three-in-three weekend. That will feature two home games against the Charlotte Checkers before ending with a Sunday road game in Chicago. It’s about to get a tad cramped. Yet, this weekend especially, is a great chance to claw back some points and climb up in the standings.

The Admirals current record is 36-19-3-0 (75 points). With a win Tuesday night against the Rockford IceHogs the Admirals could have jumped into sole possession of first place in the Central Division. Instead, their regulation loss put them behind the surging Grand Rapids Griffins. It’s a stacked division which is precisely why taking as many points from this weekend will be key. The Admirals own a 11-3-1-0 record against the Wild and Wolves this season. That can do plenty to salvage Tuesday night’s loss in Rockford.

~The Enemy~

The Wild enter tonight’s game with a record of 21-33-3-4 (49 points). Their 0.402 points percentage has them in seventh place of the Central Division and fourteenth in the Western Conference standings. If not for the Manitoba Moose they would be the worst team, across the board, in the AHL this season.

Oddly, for as rough as that all sounds, the Wild are coming into this weekend on a bit of a run. Since their head coach to start the season, John Torchetti, was promoted to the Minnesota Wild’s head coaching position they’ve gone 6-4-0-1 under the guidance of interim head coach David Cunniff. That includes a three-game winning streak that will be coming into Milwaukee tonight.

~Who What Now?~

The Wild’s roster activity since the end of February has been a blur of movement. Of note, you’ll find a very familiar face in tonight’s game: Conor Allen. That’s right. The Admirals alternate captain at the start of the season, who was traded to the Ottawa Senators organization to acquire Patrick Mullen, is now with the Wild after some NHL Trade Deadline Day hijinx.

Allen didn’t quite have the greatest of times with the Admirals this season. He played in 31 games and scored just 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists). As a member of the Binghamton Senators he produced 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) in 17 games. He has played 4 games since joining the Wild and has failed to produce a point of offense yet. In total, Allen has scored 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in 52 AHL games this season between three different teams. To think he had 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists) in 72 games for the Hartford Wold Pack last season. It hasn’t been a fun season for the guy.

When looking at the Wild’s top scorers they are headlined by four players at the 30 points plateau: Zack Mitchell, 36 points (20 goals, 16 assists)… Grayson Downing, 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists)… Jordan Schroeder, 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists)… Christoph Bertschy, 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists).

In net for the Wild they have a problem (subject to change). The Minnesota Wild recalled goaltender Steve Michalek yesterday and, at this moment, the lone goalie in Iowa is Leland Irving. Michalek was recalled with Devan Dubnyk missing last night’s game due to illness. It was a home game in Minnesota, the Wild next play on the road against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, so it’s possible Michalek returns to the mix tonight – but it depends on Dubnyk’s health. Perhaps bring a pair of goalie pads tonight – you might get a game!

UPDATE: You can keep your tendy gear at home, folks. Michaelek has been reassigned to the Iowa Wild from parent club Minnesota. Of note though – that wasn’t the only roster move made. Iowa will be without one of their top scorers this season, Schroeder, as he has been recalled to join the NHL outfit ahead of their game tomorrow night in Montreal.

Expectations for tonight’s game? How vital is this weekend for the Milwaukee Admirals to get points against lower quality teams to push back up towards the top of the division?

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