Wolves: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

There just seems to be something about playing in Grand Rapids that is an absolute nightmare experience for the Milwaukee Admirals. In the Dean Evason Era they are now 5-15-1-0 in Grand Rapids and have been shutout by the Griffins 5 times with a current losing streak of 10 games (0-9-1-0). Last night’s 3-0 loss was the Admirals first shutout defeat of the season and the first time they had been shutout in 49 games dating all the way back to March of last season.

It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fun. But it was last night in Grand Rapids. Tonight, mercifully, the Admirals aren’t in Grand Rapids. They’re finishing up their four game road trip against the Amtrak Rivals.

The Chicago Wolves enter tonight’s game with a record of 13-11-3-2 (31 points, 0.534 points percentage). If you think you have it bad as an Admirals fan last night – a Wolves fan would have an edge in the bickering department today. They lost 6-2 last night on the road against the Rockford IceHogs. That was the most goals scored by the IceHogs this season and the Wolves are now winless in their last four games (0-2-1-1).

Sticking to that game for the Wolves last night. It sounds like it would have been a joy to watch from an outside perspective as the Wolves had a meltdown. Without even going into video highlights (1) how often do you see a penalty for throwing equipment? (2) how often do you see a goalie fight? (3) how often do you see a goalie fight a skater instead of another goalie? (4) how often do you see a goalie get slapped with a game misconduct for fighting off the puck drop?

Both the throwing equipment and goalie fighting infractions happened after the Wolves were already down 6-2. Jordan Binnington came on in relief of Pheonix Copley. After Binnington’s fight, and wrasslin’ level heel turn, it meant Copley coming back in net for the final 1:07 of regulation.

Again. You think the Admirals had it bad last night? It could be a lot worse. What will be a point of note is that the Wolves, barring a total emotional dump from that episode last night, could be fired up off of that game and coming out hot for tonight’s game. These will be two teams looking to right the ship. The Admirals after a shutout loss. The Wolves after another spike in a series of poor efforts of late. It’s the last game for both before the Christmas break. Despite being the last in a two-in-two stretch expect both to empty the gas tanks tonight.

The key player to watch out for in tonight’s game is the AHL’s new leading scorer, Kenny Agostino. The 24-year old now has sole possession of the league lead in scoring with 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists) in 29 games. Matt Lorito and Taylor Beck are right behind him with 30 points.

Theatrics of last night aside the story in net for the Wolves has been more positive than it has been negative. Both Binnington and Copley have performed well but it is Copley who stands out. This season Copley has a 2.32 goals against average and 0.915 percentage which are improvements from his first year with the Wolves last season. Binnington’s numbers continue to decline from what they were two seasons ago as he has a 3.02 goals against average and 0.905 save percentage this season.

Expectations for tonight’s game? Just what sort of Milwaukee Admirals performance are we in for tonight? Which team handles the previous night’s efforts better?

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