First things first, this edition of Chatterbox will be your “Jack of all trades” to recap last night and prep you for this afternoon’s contest on the road against the Chicago Wolves.
In the recap department, the Admirals 6-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers was a real feel good performance for the team. I say that because it could have well gone drastically different. After such a one-sided first period where the Admirals generated three power-play chances, out-shot the Checkers 14-5, and had numerous other shots aimed for damage get blocked – they still ended the period scoreless. Worse, the Checkers came out of the first intermission and scored in the opening minute of the second period. That could have been a punch in the gut or a “it’s going to be one of those games” sort of moments. But, thankfully, it wasn’t.
I think a big credit should be given to the Admirals for sticking to the program and doing what they did in the first period until they got the breakthrough that they needed to open the floodgates. The Admirals weren’t doing anything wrong. The Checkers defensively were just doing an incredible job selling the body, blocking shots, and allowing for good sight-lines for John Muse to make relaxed saves in net. The pressure was mounting, it was forcing the Checkers to get sloppy in their own zone detail wise as well as to take some bad penalties, and the Admirals first goal of the night seemed to finally lessen some of the stress levels to their game. If not that first goal – the power-play goal that followed it 2:43 of ice-time after it certainly did. From there the momentum that was brewing was finally unleashed and it lead to a quick goal out of the second intermission and a fourth successive goal not too far after that. The following damage that was done was just a welcome sight to see the team operate so strongly in attack at even strength.
After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Matt White, Max Görtz, Eric Nystrom, and Kevin Fiala. I also was able to speak with the President of the Admirals Jon Greenberg prior to the game and he was very kind to speak at great length about the move to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. This was all the chatter from around the rink yesterday.
~Scouting the Enemy~
Before even making Amtrak Rivalry shrapnel jokes I feel like it’s worth looking at the Admirals themselves. The Admirals record now stands at 39-20-3-1 (82 points). That is more points than the Admirals hauled in all of last season and there are still twelve-games remaining in the schedule. With the Rockford IceHogs going on a bit of a cold stretch as of late it has the Admirals 0.641 points percentage up into second place of the Central Division and third place in the Western Conference standings. Those division leading Grand Rapids Griffins though? They’re still rolling on a now thirteen-game winning streak.
The Chicago Wolves enter today’s game with a record of 28-28-5-3 (64 points). Their 0.500 points percentage has them seated sixth in the Central Division and twelfth in the Western Conference standings.
In the Wolves last ten-games they’ve been on a run of 4-3-2-1 (11 points). As their overall points percentage suggests – that’s nothing too special. Allow me to counter that by directing you to what the Wolves have accomplished in their last two games as they beat the IceHogs 4-1 in Chicago and then 4-3 in overtime last night in Rockford. Needless to say that is impressive – especially given the IceHogs were still the aggressors. The man in the spotlight there to bail the Wolves out was Jordan Binnington who started both games and stopped 66/70 shots on goal for a 0.943 save percentage in those contests.
It’s in saying exactly that where you get a sense for where this game might possibly be won or dictated all within the opening period of today’s game. The Wolves, like the Admirals, are at the end of a three-in-three weekend. The Wolves, unlike the Admirals, were the ones playing high stress defensive minded hockey and did so while also having to bus back and forth between games. It doesn’t sound like much but it takes a toll. The Admirals are fresh off of a game that was a freeing experience to the one Friday night was. The offense exploded. And the Wolves might be dreading the snowball effect that they could have felt they dodged last night finally rolling them over – finding them again today wearing an Admirals uniform instead.
The start of this afternoon’s game should provide a lot of answers as to: (1) Are the Admirals still in goal frenzy mode? (2) Are the Wolves going to be able to match the work-rate of the Admirals? I don’t feel as if the Wolves provide anywhere near the level of defensive quality that the Admirals just battled through with the Checkers blocking so many shots. If anything, it may have opened the team’s eyes as to how to better manage their offensive zone time and generate offense by way of cycling to open up areas of the ice due to defensive misalignment or draw penalties and attack on the power-play. The Wolves are 3-5-1-1 against the Admirals this season. What do they have left in the gas tank to do what the Checkers couldn’t last night?
Comments on the comments from last night? What impressed you the most in rehards to the improvements made by the Milwaukee Admirals from Friday to Saturday’s game against the Charlotte Checkers? Will the Admirals offense of last night be packing the same level of heat today in Chicago at the end of this three-in-three weekend?
Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.