The Milwaukee Admirals have been stationary since Sunday. In the process, some outside help had them officially clinching their spot in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. The team that dropped a point to make that happen were the Cleveland Monsters. While the Admirals might be good to go for the post-season the Monsters still are fighting for their playoff lives in a tight scrap for the fourth and final spot out of the Central Division.
If the season ended today the Monsters, the defending Calder Cup Champions, would be out of the playoffs. The Monsters currently rest in fifth place in the Central Division with a record of 35-28-4-4 (78 points, 0.549 points percentage). They trail the Charlotte Checkers (0.556) at the moment by a single point but are down on regulation/overtime wins (ROW) by five-games. That is a significant amount at this stage of the season to the point the Monsters really need to gain more points than the Checkers in order to make it into the playoffs. Not to be ignored are the sixth placed Iowa Wild, who the Admirals face on the road this Sunday, who stand at 33-30-6-2 (74 points, 0.521 points percentage) with a one-game better ROW mark than the Monsters. It’s extremely close to decide that final spot out of the Central Division.
That said, as rough as it might feel things have been for the Monsters this season, the current run of form they are on has been excellent. They have been playing some of their best hockey right now and it was this time a season ago when they became white hot en route to winning the Calder Cup. In their last ten-games they have gone 8-1-1-0 to put themselves back into playoff contention. In their past three road games they have a point steak that has them 2-0-1-0.
If that isn’t enough to make today that much more of a warning for the sort of team that the Admirals will be facing the team should know well enough from the head-to-head this season. The Monsters are 4-2-1-0 against the Admirals this season including a perfect record at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. In the three-games played in Milwaukee the Monsters have outscored the Admirals 14-6.
Sonny Milano is the man leading the charge for the Monsters offense this season. He is the lone player on their roster at the 40 points plateau and has a team best 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in only 59 games played. He is followed by the likes of: T.J. Tynan, 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists)… Markus Hännikäinen, 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists)… and Daniel Zaar, 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists).
Anton Forsberg has been the main man for the Monsters between the pipes this season. He has done a fantastic job, as well. This season he has a record of 24-16-2-2 from 47 appearances with a 2.30 goals against average, 0.925 save percentage, and 3 shutouts. Those all either match or are career bests for the 24-year old Swede in the AHL. Against the Admirals this season he is 3-2-0-0 with a 2.22 goals against average and 0.931 save percentage. He is currently being backed up by Brad Thiessen and Oscar Dansk.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with Admirals head coach Dean Evason following practice at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. This was our interview which touches upon the weekend, the week that was, and a few other news items including injury updates on Jimmy Oligny and Cody Bass.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game as well as this weekend’s three-in-three for the Milwaukee Admirals? Is there the chance that this team suffers a lapse now that they have clinched a playoff spot? Could Samuel Girard end up becoming a secret weapon for the Admirals heading into the playoffs?
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