Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Mark Newman)
(Photo Credit: Mark Newman)

I hope that the Milwaukee Admirals tuned into last night’s game for the Nashville Predators. It kind of showed an example for playing the game that the Admirals attempted to stamp down on Wednesday night on the road against the Chicago Wolves but how to do it right.

Both the Predators and Admirals are stretched for different reasons but that doesn’t mean the fight and battle levels should suffer due to missing pieces in the lineup. The Admirals are up against the sword tonight with one of the best teams in the AHL coming in. If they can mirror their parent club they can get the bounce back that they’re looking for.

If the Admirals fall again tonight it would be their fourth straight loss. The Admirals haven’t lost four straight games in the regular season since 1/3/16–1/9/16 (0-3-1-0). If they were to lose in regulation it would be their fourth straight loss in regulation and that hasn’t happened since the 2011-12 season when they lost five straight games in regulation (1/22/12–2/3/12).

As our pal Patrick Williams on writes: it has been business as usual for the Grand Rapids Griffins this season. Despite all the chaos for the Detroit Red Wings this season their AHL affiliate has stayed composed and consistent throughout a fluctuating roster. History of the organization has shown that they can maintain this level of success. Which makes games like tonight all the more important for the Admirals to get ground in head-to-head opportunities rather than fall further behind.

The Griffins enter tonight’s game with a record of 22-9-1-2 (47 points, 0.691 points percentage). They aren’t just leading the Central Division but also the Western Conference standings. They only trail the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (0.764) and Lehigh Valley Phantoms (0.706) for the best record in the AHL.

A curious aspect to tonight’s contest comes by how the schedule has played out for both teams. The Admirals have been scrapping it out in tough games of late. They played at home on Tuesday and then on the road Wednesday. All the while, the Griffins have been sitting on a six-day break between games. Will the Griffins be rested or rusty? The opening period should tell that narrative.

When looking at just how stretched the Griffins are you look right to the goaltending position where there is no more Jared Coreau. He’s busy with the Red Wings now and it means the Griffins are leaning on more seasoned goaltenders in 26-year old Eddie Pasquale and 28-year old Cal Heeter.

Pasquale has a record of 7-2-1-2 from 12 appearances this season with a 2.46 goals against average, 0.911 save percentage, and a single shutout. He has won four of his last five starts and has won both starts he has made against the Admirals this season with a 1.48 goals against average and 0.953 save percentage.

Heeter, whose name sounds like he belongs in a baseball movie, has had quite the traveled career since leaving -the- Ohio State University. He has played for: Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), Adirondack Phantoms (AHL), Trenton Titans (ECHL), Evansville Icemen (ECHL), Toronto Marlies (AHL), Medvescak Zagreb (KHL), Hamburg Freezers (DEL), and Toledo Walleye (ECHL). That journey has ended with this recent spell up with the Griffins where he has a 4-1-0-0 record from five starts with a 2.20 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage.

Matt Lorito leads the Griffins in scoring with 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 32 games this season. He is followed by four other players that are at 20 points or more: Ben Street, Mitch Callahan, and Tomas Nosek. By comparison, the Admirals have the four players at that plateau but only three will be available tonight: Matt White, Vladislav Kamenev, and Trevor Smith.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Will the Grand Rapids Griffins be too much for the Milwaukee Admirals in their current state? What do the Admirals need to do in order to ignite their offense which has only scored twice in the last 189:43 of ice time?

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