Rampage: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Darren Abate // San Antonio Rampage)
(Photo Credit: Darren Abate // San Antonio Rampage)

It’s been an up-and-down kind of time for the Milwaukee Admirals. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic for tonight’s contest though because not only does the Nashville Predators break mean affording the services of Juuse Saros and Pontus Åberg but the match-up itself has gone really well this season.

The Admirals have had some very seriously tight games against the San Antonio Rampage this season, including back-to-back 2-1 scorelines to start the season, but they have won all three games played so far. They’ve all been one-goal contests but the Admirals have kept their heads above water. The last go round was here in Milwaukee and ended as a 5-4 win. The Admirals lost a three-goal lead only to have Jimmy Oligny score a game-winning tally 1:19 of ice-time after the Rampage had tied it.

So, while the games have been extremely tight, the best of the Admirals character seems to be brought out against the Rampage. And that character will be given a gut check tonight when Félix Girard makes his return to Milwaukee for the first time since being traded away in January.

Girard was very much a heart and soul type of person and player for the Admirals. His on and off-ice work were always tireless. His return will be an emotional one for Admirals plays and Girard himself. But it might be a return that helps the Admirals rise to the challenge that stands in their way now: Girard the opponent.

In his career as a member of the Admirals Girard played 172 games and produced 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists) and was the top penalty killer and face-off man from pretty much the day he arrived from Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL. He had already matched his points total that he had with the Admirals in 35 games work this season in just 8 games as part of the Rampage. Since joining San Antonio he has produced 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in 13 games and taken a more higher ranking spot atop their forward group.

Nostalgia all aside, the Rampage are a team sitting in a lowly spot among the AHL standings. They have a record of 21-24-4-1 (47 points, 0.470 points percentage) which has them last in the Pacific Division and only ahead of the Manitoba Moose (0.458) and Rockford IceHogs (0.441) for the worst record in the Western Conference.

That said. The Admirals just earned a single point from a pair of games against the IceHogs this past weekend. It’s high time they start capitalizing off of these lower tier opponents as they should be doing.

The leading scorer at the moment for the Rampage is Rocco Grimaldi who has produced 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) in 49 games this season. He is followed closely by rookie A.J. Greer who has 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in 47 games.

In net the Rampage feature Spencer Martin and Kent Simpson. They will be without former Admiral goaltender Jeremy Smith who last night made his NHL debut as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

Martin has played the most games in net for the Rampage this season: 15-12-2-0 from 30 appearances with a 2.85 goals against average, 0.908 save percentage, and a lone shutout. He has failed to earn a win from his last 6 appearances in net and has a 4.59 goals against average and 0.811 save percentage in that winless skid.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Will the Milwaukee Admirals fall flat as they go up against their old friend Félix Girard? How big of a boost will it be for the Admirals to have both Pontus Åberg and Juuse Saros in tonight’s game?

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