The Milwaukee Admirals and Rockford IceHogs were in a really bizarre game through the first two periods last night. It was a track meet in which both teams were playing really fast, worked in transition, but both struggled heavily once they reached the final attacking third – really lacked quality finishing. Yet, right at the end of that second period everything shifted. The Admirals scored a power-play goal to take the lead. The IceHogs responded forty-two seconds later to equalize. They would score again 24 seconds into the third period to take the lead. And they never looked back as they earned a 5-2 win.
Watching the Admirals in that third period -especially- was bordering on an out of body experience given just how vastly different Wednesday’s game and third period was played. In their 3-0 shutout victory over the Chicago Wolves – the team stuck together, defended extremely well, and worked a very structured game to limit damage and help Anders Lindbäck as best as they could. Last night? The way that the Admirals defended and gave away the puck exposed Lindbäck to multiple odd-man rushes and breakaway chances. They abandoned structure and were caught up into a run-and-gun game where they shot themselves in the foot repeatedly in the third period.
It’d be simple to say that any goaltender having to face 44 shots on goal is a huge ask. For Lindbäck last night was the second time in his last four starts that saw him face 40 shots or more. He lost both games. And both of those games came on home ice against divisional opponents. The examples of how to play and how not to play are there for the Admirals. The root of success for them so far this season has been a “defense first” approach and to attack off their defense in transition. That didn’t happen against the IceHogs. It needs to happen today against the Wolves.
The Wolves may have been shutout by the Admirals on Wednesday. They might have even come up short 2-1 last night at home to the San Antonio Rampage and now have a record of 4-6-1-0 (9 points, 0.409 points percentage) which has them firmly planted in last place of the Central Division. But they still can pack a punch.
What the Admirals saw last night was an IceHogs team that competed with desperation after suffering a four-game losing streak. The Wolves should be playing that exact same way this afternoon. They have lost two straight games after earning a 2-0 shutout over the Grand Rapids Griffins. …quite a few of these “great game followed by rough games” going around in our division lately. Yet, the Wolves have the ability to play to that level. It’s all the more reason why the Admirals need to correct their mistakes from last night. To find success today the Admirals need to be smart on defense and play a much more simple and direct game on offense.
Final thoughts on last night’s game? Are the defensive breakdowns for the Milwaukee Admirals concerning? What are your expectations for tonight’s game as well as the upcoming road trip?
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