Firstly, I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday. We are now in a fast approach for the conclusion to the Milwaukee Admirals run of games in November. It’s been a lot of “down-up, stop-start, repeat” but we’re currently at an up. All that these kinds of patterns need to be kicked is for two or more results to start going the right way. Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Cleveland Monsters was a start. Now it is time to see if the Admirals can really follow up strongly this weekend at home.
The Chicago Wolves are entering this game with a record of 4-9-2-1 (11 points, 0.344 points percentage). They aren’t just last in the Central Division, either. The Amtrak Rivals enter tonight’s game with the worst record in the entire AHL. To say that I, for one, am shocked is an understatement. Their team should be so much more than what they are – and it is shocking to see a team that can’t make anything really work.
The Wolves are on a seven-game winless skid (0-5-1-1) and have only two wins from their last eleven games played. I’m not sure they can be summed up any better than the two games they had come their last appearance in the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. The Wolves went from winning a hard fought 2-0 shutout on the road against the Grand Rapids Griffins. They followed it up by being shutout 3-0 against the Admirals. They can be great – they just tend to be a hot mess more than they are great.
Things don’t get a lot better for the Wolves when they are playing away from the Allstate Arena. They have a single road win from eight attempts. And they have produced 24 goals on the road but conceded 33 goals behind it. Not to mention: the Wolves have lost four road games this season by one-goal. They can scrap away but are coming up short often.
The Wolves and Admirals do seem to have a similar narrative going on at the moment. It all comes down to focus and those that are in the lineup showing up. Yes, things are a bit weird as far as the affiliation agreement for the Wolves between the Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues but whoever is in the lineup needs to play. When looking at Wade Megan right now -a guy who scored 33 goals a season ago- it is bizarre that he has yet to score a single goal and we’re nearing the end of November. At the moment it is the Teemu Pulkkinen Show. He has an amazing show but he is just one man. In three-games this season Pulkkinen has a single goal from eight shots against the Admirals. They’re pinning him into making deep shots and forcing the rest of the Wolves to go to work. When players such as Megan can actually start making more of a dent within games – that is when this Wolves lineup can start becoming more of a threat. There is still a very strong, deep, and talented group there. They just have been struggling to find consistency or balance to their game out of the blocks.
As far as roster consistency goes, the Wolves are once again in a small bit of flux but it does help when your parent club gets you the AHL’s all-time leader in shutouts Michael Leighton. As of yet, Leighton hasn’t made his debut with the Wolves but comes in after a trade and loan having played nine-games for the Syracuse Crunch: 3-3-2-0 record, 3.03 goals against average, and 0.868 save percentage. The numbers aren’t particularly great but a change of scenery and reintroduction to the AHL’s Central Division might do him a world of good.
Lastly, the Admirals are playing the team with the worst record in the AHL tonight – and they will be facing the current leaders of the Central Division in the Manitoba Moose tomorrow night. What happens tomorrow needs to be focused on tomorrow. What the Wolves record or placement currently is shouldn’t be overlooked or seen as weakness. The Admirals need to show up tonight, stick to their strengths, and keep taking steps forward as they mostly have these last two games. November hasn’t been all that great. But it can go a long way into setting up a stronger 2017-18 season if the lessons are learned through these stretches of adversity.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Are you surprised to see the Chicago Wolves struggling this badly to start the season? What do the Milwaukee Admirals need to do to polish up Wednesday’s performance and put in a more dominant effort tonight?
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