Well, it finally happened. It took until the final game of the 2015-16 regular season but the Milwaukee Admirals were spanked last night. Their 7-1 loss on the road to the Rockford IceHogs was up there for one of the biggest losses of the season: 7-2 vs. Charlotte (10/16/15), 6-0 vs. Grand Rapids (11/27/15), and 6-2 vs. Rockford (12/18/15). Look at those dates and you will see that it took the Admirals 48 games since the last time they were thrashed that badly.
Can I go deep into what I saw in Rockford last night? Sure, but I don’t think there is much to be said that the scoreline doesn’t already scream into your eyeballs. It was rough. It was sloppy. Mistakes were made. And, frankly, Marek Mazanec was made to suffer and hung out to dry.
I read a fair amount of comments after last night with concerns or disgust regarding the result. It was a good game. I’ll give you that. It also isn’t the grandest way to enter the playoffs. I will give you that, too. But keep in mind that this was an Admirals team fresh off of a franchise record tying thirteen-game winning streak. They also had a run of seven straight wins going right up until these final two games of the regular season. If these two losses were sprinkled in the mix of the final fifteen-games a little more so than just as the last two-games of the season I don’t feel the same level of frustration and worry would be there. From where I sit I’m not in any sort of a panic, worry, or concern. Especially after last night’s game. The IceHogs had something to play for last night. The Admirals didn’t. And I feel like that amplified the efforts of the IceHogs in that game. It’s not to say that the Admirals quit or didn’t try but never underestimate what playing with desperation and hunger does to even the smallest of teams. The Admirals were complacent on Friday night. The Admirals were complacent on Saturday night. Perhaps the best thing that could have happened to the Admirals leading into the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs was the stiff slap in the face they received last night.
Before the Admirals and IceHogs game even came to an end the Grand Rapid Griffins had lost on home ice to the Bakersfield Condors to set the Central Division side of the playoff bracket. The Admirals will be getting the Griffins in the first round. The Lake Erie Monsters will now get the IceHogs.
As far as things have gone this season I’ve been dreading the thought of playing the Griffins in the first round. They’ve out-battled and shutdown the Admirals at times this season. The Admirals record against the Griffins was 3-5-0-0. While that seems poor I hazard you from going into any form of hyperventilating because as rough as the Admirals last two games have felt, and as poor as that record against the Griffins looks, the Griffins have been all sorts of awful. In the Griffins last thirteen-games they have a record of 3-10-0-0 and have lost their last five-games straight heading into the playoffs. There is a part of me that feels this is the time to pounce on the Griffins. And having the 2-2-1 style playoff format so the Admirals get to open up and finish on home ice makes it all the better to think about.
Following the decision out of Grand Rapids the Admirals first round schedule dropped. We were all made aware that the Admirals would be hosting games on the upcoming Friday and Saturday but this is what the full layout will be.
Friday, Apr. 22 vs. Grand Rapids: 7:00 pm CST
Saturday, Apr. 23 vs. Grand Rapids: 7:00 pm CST
Tuesday, Apr. 26 @ Grand Rapids: 6:00 pm CST
*Wednesday, Apr. 27 @ Grand Rapids: 6:00 pm CST
*Saturday, Apr. 30 vs. Grand Rapids: 7:00 pm CST
I’m a much bigger fan of the 2-2-1 best-of-five format as opposed to what the norm has been in recent memory of a 2-3 format. It makes things more balanced and makes having home ice advantage feel more like actually having home ice advantage. Not sure what I mean by that? Well, the Lake Erie Monsters are the second seed of the Central Division playoff bracket and will be getting the IceHogs. Needing three-wins to clinch the series everyone in the 2-3 format generally picks the three-games at the back end of the format so the series ends on home ice. The IceHogs will be getting the first two games of that series in Rockford. So, if that team and building is rocking as much as it was last night and the Monsters have to win all three-games that they have at home ice that home ice advantage doesn’t mean all that much does it? I’m not sure why certain locations get specific treatment to differentiate the rest of the playoffs but, if I did, I’m sure there would be a Californian AHL teams joke in there somewhere.
After the conclusion of last night’s game I waited up to catch Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as the man who made his professional playing debut Aaron Irving. With most of the Admirals gearing up to get right back to the bus and back to Milwaukee ASAP that’s really all I wanted to grab. Who could blame them for wanting to put that game far behind them? That all said. Here is what Evason and Irving had to say following the contest.
Comments on the comments? How will the Milwaukee Admirals fair against the Grand Rapids Griffins in the opening round of the playoffs?
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