Welp, this game doesn’t need a whole lot of back-story. The Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins met on Wednesday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. That game was considered by head coach Dean Evason as one of their worst games of the season and the result, a 6-3 loss, frankly could have been worse than it was. The Griffins blitzed through a lethargic Admirals team and outworked them consistently. Today is a chance to return the favor in Grand Rapids.
Since both played they have each taken steps in a different direction. If you thought the Admirals were awful on Wednesday night? They struck back with a fantastic effort and a 3-1 won over the Rockford IceHogs. Meanwhile, if you thought the Griffins on Wednesday night looked like the Calder Cup Champions that they were last season, they returned home and were shutout 2-0 by the Chicago Wolves on Friday. To be as blunt as possible: hockey can be weird.
What’s important to note is that the Admirals really appeared to use that game on Wednesday as a small wake-up call. They started slow, didn’t play with any real energy, and the team play was sloppy. That all appeared to be corrected against the IceHogs on Friday night behind a great defensive effort and goaltending performance. The question simply comes down to if it can be sustained and worked in a building that just feels like a house of horrors for the Admirals?
In the Dean Evason Era of the Milwaukee Admirals, regular season and playoffs, their overall record at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids is 8-16-2-0. In that span they’ve been shutout five times. The Admirals haven’t won a season series against the Griffins since Evason’s first season behind the Admirals bench in 2012-13 when they also pulled a 3-1-0-0 record in Grand Rapids. The Admirals need to start making the Griffins uncomfortable playing them anywhere on any day. Today would be a nice day to start seeing to that.
This game really should be a fascinating one on the Admirals side of operations. If you’re the Griffins? You’re looking to match Wednesday’s work rate and to keep grinding away with attacking pressure. It’s on the Admirals to defend smart and hit with pace in transition. The neutral zone should be key today. Both sides are going to want to take away that initial burst of speed on zone entry. Should the Admirals elevate their game as they did against the IceHogs on Friday night? This should be played with a playoff intensity with mistakes dictating a result. That only means staying out of the penalty box becomes that much more crucial.
What are your expectations for today’s game against the Grand Rapids Griffins? Why has playing against the Griffins been such a struggle over these past few seasons? How do the Milwaukee Admirals find a way to win this one?
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