Well, howdy there Rockford IceHogs. It has been a long ol’ time since you turned up on the Milwaukee Admirals 2016-17 schedule. This is the fourth meeting of the season between these two Central Division foes, the first game played since late-November, and the first time all season that the IceHogs will be playing in the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
Needless to say there is some recapping in order with the IceHogs. They enter this game with a record of 11-16-2-3 (27 points, 0.422 points percentage). They are currently in seventh place in the Central Division with only 0.016 points percentage points… if that’s a thing.. separating them from the last placed Charlotte Checkers.
I feel very much like the IceHogs are this year’s version of last year’s Chicago Wolves. The IceHogs have the team. They just aren’t finding the results. I still find that letting Michael Leighton go has really hurt how their team has performed. The IceHogs are allowing 3.28 goals per game while scoring 2.47 goals per game. Right now Leighton, who plays for the Checkers, has a 2.04 goals against average, 0.927 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. The IceHogs goaltending this season has featured Lars Johansson and Mac Carruth. The two have a combined 2.93 goals against average and 0.899 save percentage.
Another sore spot for the IceHogs? Look at their roster last season. Look at the Chicago Blackhawks roster this season. Right now the Blackhawks have names such as Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza, Tanner Kero, and Dennis Rasmussen. Prospects who could be in the AHL – aren’t in the AHL. That’s kind of the way the Blackhawks are forced into structuring a team the way they have big name talents under big money contracts.
Still, that’s not to say that the IceHogs should be let off the hook for a poor start to their season because the talent is there: Spencer Abbott, Sam Carrick, Jake Dowell, Brandon Mashinter, Mark McNeill, and Ville Pokka. It has been an incredibly underwhelming defensive effort that has shot them in the foot time and time again. And it is that approach that smells not too dissimilar to the way the Texas Stars operated minus the ability to match score for score. This could be a track meet. And it could all fall one way unless the IceHogs’ New Year’s Resolution of “minimize mistakes” holds true.
Where this game becomes fascinating from the Admirals perspective is the return of veteran stability to their defensive ranks in the form of Adam Pardy. Having him back, most likely paired with Alex Carrier, will be a very welcome sight to behold for the team. There is also the chance that the Admirals dress seven-defensemen tonight while Cody Bass is out due to a lower-body injury and Harry Zolnierczyk was recalled by the Nashville Predators yesterday.
Speaking of yesterday. I did chat with a good group to help preview tonight’s game. You can get caught up with that here in the latest edition of Chatterbox.
Expectations for tonight’s game? With the Milwaukee Admirals having lost four of their last five games what do they need to start doing to get on a good run early in 2017? Should the Admirals give the net to Jonas Gunnarsson for a third consecutive game or is it time to get Marek Mazanec back in?
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