IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals opened up the season going 4-1-0-0 (8 points, 0.800 points percentage). Their lone loss so far came last time out on home ice against the Rockford IceHogs. It was a bit of revenge for the IceHogs as they currently have a record of 6-1-0-0 (12 points, 0.857 points percentage). Their lone loss of the season was in their own barn to the Admirals. So, if you are a fan of how this pattern is playing out, tonight’s game taking place at the BMO Harris Bank Center is looking rather good.

It’s going to be very important for the Admirals to correct both the mistakes that they made in Saturday night’s 6-2 as well as clamp down on what made the IceHogs so effective. These aren’t the IceHogs of the past. They actually possess a lot of the same qualities that the Admirals do: pace, skill, and work ethic. It’s something Admirals captain Trevor Smith said, after the defeat, that they took for granted. In other words, if the Admirals were taking the IceHogs lightly after the pre-season and first game of the season? Their eyes are open now. They know it’s an extremely bad idea to sleep on the IceHogs.

Tonight’s game plan for the Admirals should be to avoid getting into a track meet. What the Admirals can do now is to make this game a bit more physical and cause havoc in the neutral zone to dampen the IceHogs speed. It isn’t to say the Admirals need to abandon their own speed game but the manner in which they get to that needs to be triggered by a defense-first approach and to hit hard on a counter. The Admirals know all to well how a team such as the Grand Rapids Griffins have effectively neutralized their speed game. They’ll want to re-create that same level of defending tonight and embrace the grind if they’re going to earn a second win of the season in Rockford.

Since playing against the Admirals the IceHogs do have a pair of games under their belt. As you can tell from their record? They won both of them – and did it very well.

After defeating the Admirals last Saturday the IceHogs completed a three-in-three weekend by shutting out the Hershey Bears 5-0. In net for the occasion was Jean-François Bérubé who stopped all 23 shots on goal to record his second shutout from five-starts this season. Not to mention: five different IceHogs scored goals in that contest. It was a balanced beatdown of the Bears.

Bérubé received the follow up start on Wednesday for the IceHogs when they picked up a 2-1 win in overtime on the road against the Iowa Wild. A goal from Colton Beck came 1:10 into the contest and, from that point forward, Bérubé shut the door and allowed for the IceHogs to force overtime and pick up a win. He stopped 17/18 shots as Matt Iacopelli scored past the midway point of the second period and Tomas Jurco snagged the game-winner in overtime to push the IceHogs winning streak to four-games.

Interestingly, as good as Bérubé has been this season, Jeff Glass remains the goalie of choice for the IceHogs against the Admirals. Last season Glass went 3-0-1-0 against the Admirals with a 2.17 goals against average and 0.928 save percentage. He has been in net for both games this season against the Admirals and they have been the only appearances for the soon to be 32-year old so far. He split the two contests and has a 3.05 goals against average and 0.905 save percentage for his troubles.

It would make plenty of sense for Bérubé to keep going for the IceHogs. In five-starts this season he has a 5-0-0-0 record with a 1.38 goals against average, 0.950 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise to see Anders Lindbäck between the pipes for the Admirals. It would make sense for the IceHogs to keep rolling with the hot hand.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Despite the good record, after suffering the 6-2 loss last time out do you think that the Milwaukee Admirals received a nice early season wake-up call? Does the long layoff between games, while the Rockford IceHogs have played mid-week, help or hurt the Admirals?

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