This past weekend’s three-in-three was a mixed bag for the Milwaukee Admirals that had a bit more bad than there was good. Out of all three of those games though the one that probably stings the most was the performance against the Rockford IceHogs.
The Cleveland Monsters are one of the hottest teams in the AHL at the moment and were and still are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Iowa Wild coming into the weekend were still in contention, were officially eliminated just prior to puck drop, and delivered a quick start off two bad Admirals turnovers. Those games were rather good outside of a period of hockey or an opening two minutes of chaos. Saturday’s game against the IceHogs was tough sledding from the word “GO.”
What stood out to me the most in that 4-2 loss for the Admirals was the IceHogs blunt approach to the game. They were playing North-South and getting Marek Mazanec to work, work, and work some more. The Admirals were forced to defend and defend throughout the game and, if not for Mazanec, things could have gotten really out of hand in the very first period when the Admirals were outshot 17-7.
Today I feel the Admirals will be on much more high alert with the “rest days” for players being toned down as the final three games of the regular season are upon us. The Admirals have the IceHogs in Rockford tonight and on home ice on Friday night. It can all be utilized to help set a tone for the regular season finale in which the Admirals play against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. If the season ended today – that is the Admirals opening round opponent in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. The rough three-in-three weekend is in the past. The Admirals playoff quality form needs to start clicking tonight.
The IceHogs will enter this contest with a record of 25-36-9-3 (62 points, 0.425 points percentage). They are not the worst team in the AHL. In fact, they aren’t even the worst team in the Western Conference. The IceHogs are ahead of the San Antonio Rampage (0.404), Binghamton Senators (0.397), Hartford Wold Pack (0.370).
As bad as things always seem to be this season for the IceHogs what almost gets lost is their much better form at the BMO Harris Bank Center. They have a 0.542 points percentage on home ice and have won their last two games. It’s actually their road record (0.311) that has buried them this season. It is the worst road record in the AHL.
Brandon Mashinter is the key player I would like to highlight for the IceHogs tonight. He has always been a very physical presence on the ice but he seems to play his best hockey against the Admirals. This season Mashinter has produced 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 58 games. He has a team best 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) against the Admirals in 9 games this season including a goal scored on Saturday’s game and contributing 5 shots on goal.
What are you hoping for out of tonight’s game? Is it important for the Milwaukee Admirals to start stamping some authority down or are they still in a slight process of smoothing things out as younger prospects enter the lineup ahead of the playoff season? How do you think Tyler Moy will perform with the Admirals as he makes his pro debut?
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