IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

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

Tuesday’s game was a bit of a let down given last weekend’s results. The Milwaukee Admirals dropped a 4-1 game on home ice to the Cleveland Monsters with a rough first period being a major tipping point. What you liked out of the game was the finish. The Admirals outshot the Monsters 31-13 in the final two periods of play. If the Admirals can get a complete game? It should do them well. A solid focus on a quality first period will go a long way to seeing that through.

That should be the thought process for this entire weekend. The Admirals play three games in three days with two contests against tonight’s opponent, the Rockford IceHogs, sandwiching an Amtrak Rivalry game against the Chicago Wolves.

The IceHogs enter tonight’s game with a record of 14-23-8-3 (39 points, 0.406 points percentage). They are winless in their last 8 games going on a run of 0-3-5-0 during that skid. They hold the worst record in the Central Division, Western Conference, and entire AHL.

I had asked the last time I did a Scouting the Enemy on the IceHogs just how are they this bad? Well, the game that followed showed plenty of why they are. They did force overtime late before losing 4-3 in overtime. The result alone wasn’t the story. I saw an IceHogs team that lacked any sort of composure, often times structure, and seemed far more engaged in post-whistle behavior than in-game success.

I suppose then the IceHogs struggles go into a little belief of mine that most teams are a reflection of their head coach. Last game the IceHogs head coach, Ted Dent, ended up getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that forced his team into a full two-minute five-on-three penalty killing situation that the Admirals cashed in from. He then went postal after the first period and earned himself a game misconduct.

If the head coach doesn’t have the ability to lead by example and direct order – why should that team be anything other than what it is? And do you know what the definition of insanity is? It’s doing the exact same thing over and over again expecting things to change. In Rockford it has been that way for a very, very, very, very long time.

This season the IceHogs have allowed the second most goals in the entire league. They have allowed 3.39 goals against per game and are only popping in 2.31 goals per game. Their power-play is ranked twenty-sixth in the AHL (14.8% overall). And their penalty kill is the second worst in the AHL (77.5%).

The IceHogs do rank highly in an overall AHL category. They are third in the entire league when it comes to fighting majors with 26 which trails the Albany Devils (35) and Ontario Reign (27). Michael Latta is already two fighting majors away from becoming the first player to face AHL disciplinary measures under the new fighting policy.

Spencer Abbott leads the IceHogs currently in scoring with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists). He is followed closely by Mark McNeill with 26 points (6 goals, 20 assists) and Sam Carrick with 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists). Their top scoring defenseman this season his Ville Pokka who has contributed 19 points (2 goals, 17 assists). Despite all that offensive output these four players have a combined plus/minus rating of -62.

In net the IceHogs have three options: Mac Carruth, Jeff Glass, and Lars Johansson. It has been tough sledding for all three as not one of the IceHogs goaltenders feature a save percentage at or above 0.900. Johansson is statistically the best of the group and nearly has that last sentence wrong: 8-11-4-0 from 26 appearances with a 2.85 goals against average, 0.899 save percentage, and a shutout. In his last three starts he has suffered overtime losses.

Expectations for tonight’s game as well as this whole weekend? How vital is it for the Milwaukee Admirals to set the right tone for this three-in-three weekend immediately in tonight’s first period? Will there be a continuation of nasty behavior between the Admirals and IceHogs tonight and Sunday?

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