Wild: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Golly, it feels like ages since the Iowa Wild have fallen on the Milwaukee Admirals schedule. In fact, tonight and tomorrow night’s games are the first between the two sides in 2017. The last time they met was on 12/28/16 when the Admirals won 3-0 at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena behind a 25-save shutout from Jonas Gunnarsson.

The Admirals are 3-2-0-0 against the Wild this season and have won the past three contests straight. All games between these two teams have ended in regulation this season. Since moving to Iowa this head-to-head has seen no less than two overtime games per season. Though, times have clearly changed for the Wild as they’ve traditionally been among the worst teams in the AHL. That hasn’t been something you can say at all this season.

The Wild will be entering this weekend’s games with a record of 29-23-6-2 (66 points, 0.550 points percentage). They are currently right behind the Admirals in the Central Division which would see them in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season when they were the then Houston Aeros.

As they arrive to Milwaukee the Wild do so on a four-game point streak and three-game winning streak (3-0-1-0). The winning streak, in particular, all comes with road victories over the likes of the Rockford IceHogs and Texas Stars.

It doesn’t take much to see why the Wild have done such a phenomenal turn-around in the AHL this season over years past. They have brought in highly respected veteran talent who bring with them a culture of success. Pat Cannone, Maxime Fortunus, Jeff Hoggan, and Mike Weber have all performed very well this season and have helped add quality depth to what has been a typically shallow prospect pool filled team.

The leading scorer for the Wild this season is Teemu Pulkkinen. Yet, he has long since been dealt to the Arizona Coyotes. That kicks the title over to 20-year old AHL All-Star Alex Tuch. In his first pro season after having a successful two-year spell with Boston College out of the USNDT he has contributed 31 points (15 goals, 16 assists) in 42 games in the AHL. He has also played 6 games for the Minnesota Wild in the NHL but has yet to earn his first career NHL point as of yet.

In their team scoring race Cannone is right behind the youngster with 30 points (9 goals, 21 assists) in 57 games. The 30-year old center, who played as a member of the Chicago Wolves the previous three-seasons, logged his first career NHL games this season as a member of the Minnesota Wild.

Alex Stalock has been at the helm in net for the Wild during this current run and could well be the best part about it. In the three-game winning streak for the Wild he has stopped 105/109 shots on goal for a sparkling 0.963 save percentage. On the season the 29-year old holds a 19-12-6-1 record from 39 appearances to go with a 2.38 goals against average, 0.923 save percentage, a 3 shutouts. This has been the best full-season of work in the AHL for Stalock in his career.

What are your expectations for these two games against the Iowa Wild? How important will it be for the Milwaukee Admirals to not get caught out looking ahead to the finale of this weekend’s three-in-three, against the Grand Rapids Griffins, and take care of the task in front of them? Is it realistic that the Admirals can pull off the three-in-three sweep?

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