If yesterday was meant to be one of the more important moments of the Milwaukee Admirals season and it was met with a 3-0 shutout over the Stockton Heat – think of today’s obstacle. Yes, earning that win and that win being well structured and a shutout is great. The problem is what if that is followed up with more of the same that proceeded that shutout? What if the Admirals fall flat on their face again today and are their own worst enemies?
What the Admirals did yesterday was an outstanding result. What stands in front of them is the true test: consistency. The Admirals brought “defense first” play back into their game, structure, and high attention to detail last night. Doing that on a regular basis is the real key that the team needs for it to be among the true top teams in the AHL. No, they don’t need a shutout every single night – but the philosophy and mentality of that high level performance is what needs to be on the ice, from everyone, on a regular basis. They were great last night. Can they be great -again- tonight?
Standing in front of the Admirals are the San Jose Barracuda who are coming in after a lengthy bus ride after defeating the Grand Rapids Griffins on the road 4-1 last night. If you’re reading this you probably already know that winning in Grand Rapids isn’t exactly easy. Winning in that manner boarders on the absurd. The Barracuda conceded a single goal while allowing 44 shots. That tells me they’re playing high level defense to force chances that their goaltender is seeing clearly and from a good margin out of danger. That, or, Troy Grosenick played out of his mind good in net – something he is completely capable of.
Grosenick is a Brookfield, Wisconsin native who this season leads the AHL with 6 shutouts. He has a record of 11-8-1-1 in 24 appearances with a 2.10 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage. Prior to this season he had just 3 shutouts from 99 games in his AHL career. He has already matched the amount of wins he secured last season for the Barracuda and did it in 4 games less to do it with still half a season to be played.
You would think by looking a Grosenick’s numbers and then his win-loss record and assume the Barracuda simply aren’t providing enough goals this season. That isn’t the case. The Barracuda are averaging 3.42 goals per game compared to the Admirals 2.72 goals per game average.
Leading the charge in that department for the Barracuda is 22-year old first-year pro Danny O’Regan who has produced 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 33 games. He is followed closely by the third highest scoring defenseman in the AHL this season, Tim Heed, who has 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists) in 32 games.
In the familiar face department the San Jose Sharks acquired a former Admiral by the name of Zack Stortini from the Ottawa Senators organization. Stortini had been playing for the Binghamton Senators where he was the team captain the past two seasons. He joins the Barracuda just in time to play the Griffins last night as a precursor to his ol’ stomping grounds tonight. Stortini played in the Nashville Predators organization during the 2011-12 season and played a game for the Predators but mainly stuck around the Admirals in the AHL: 15 points (9 goals, 6 assists) in 74 games with 146 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of +4.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Will the Milwaukee Admirals be able to sustain the form and attention to detail as they did last night? How important is it to win this game to head off into the AHL All-Star break on a very positive note?
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