Monsters: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

It’s Hockey Night- no, it isn’t actually. The Milwaukee Admirals third ever “School Day” game takes place Wednesday at 10:30 AM CST which means getting the pre-game scout sooner. I tend to publish and filter material out at the 7 AM hour but that’s the time I’ll be hitting rinkside and setting up shop. Once again, it’ll be odd having a game start that early – end that early – but he so incredibly loud. These last two games with the kiddos out in mass have been brilliant spectacles that –I hope– create lifelong fans.

The opponent that the Admirals have in front of them for the festivities just so happened to be the first team to compete with them during the inaugural “School Day” game. They were the Lake Erie Monsters then and lost 6-3. That team would go on to win the Calder Cup last season and change their name to the Cleveland Monsters. Perhaps, as this season has gone, they might want to consider a return to the Lake Erie name.

The Monsters hold a record of 25-24-3-4 (57 points, 0.509 points percentage) which has them resting in fifth place in the Central Division and tenth in the Western Conference standings.

In their last ten games the Monsters have won twice from a stretch that had them endure eight road games – seven of which came in succession. In five of the last six games the Monsters have allowed 4 goals. That being said – holding any sort of a win over the Grand Rapids Griffins is a good thing and they earned a 4-1 win on their return to home ice following that marathon seven game road trip. I can’t imagine you see a team as good as the Griffins allow 48 shots on goal in a three period game very often.

You could then think that defensively things have been the sore spot while the offense is doing its best. It’s actually the other way around. The Monsters allow less goals per game (2.80) than the Admirals (2.84). Yet, the Monsters have scored the fewest goals (135) in the entire AHL this season.

They weren’t all that mind blowing offensively last season either, (2.78 goals per game), but were able to match that with excellent goaltending and defense – allowing 2.47 goals against per game. Their current 2.41 goals per game isn’t near good enough. And that is only made all the more prevalent in recent games in which the defense has been torn apart.

If it wasn’t hard enough for the Monsters lately they will be without some of their top scoring talent. T.J. Tynan leads the Monsters in scoring this season with 30 points (7 goals, 23 assists) in 55 games but was recalled on an emergency basis by the Columbus Blue Jackets where he joins the Monsters third leading scorer, Oliver Bjorkstrand, at the NHL level.

The current active leading scorer for the Monsters is Sonny Milano who has 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists). Other notable players that are still quite a threat on the ice include: Daniel ZaarMarkus HännikäinenAlex Broadhurst, and former Admiral Joe Pendenza.

In net the Monsters should have Anton Forsberg between the pipes but, in the off-chance that isn’t the case, he does have two friends that played their trade with the Admirals’ ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones: Brad Thiessen and Michael Houser.

Statistically speaking, Forsberg is having a rebound season for the Monsters. He has a 2.25 goals against average, 0.927 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. It is the best he has played since the 2014-15 season with the then Springfield Falcons. Yet, his record for the Monsters this season does speak to the bigger team problem in front of him. Forsberg is 16-12-1-2 from 34 appearances this season.

UPDATE. Tynan has been reassigned to the Monsters from the Blue Jackets at the sparking 8 AM hour ahead of this morning’s game.

What are your expectations for the “School Day” game between the Admirals and Monsters? Will it be as crazy as the last two that the Admirals have played? Is there a chance that the AM start time will allow the Admirals to play a more instinctive game?

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