The Milwaukee Admirals very first three-in-three weekend of the 2017-18 is upon us. It arrives at a unique point in time. The Admirals are in an up-and-down funk and have been in that rut since the start of November where they’ve gone 7-9-1-0. They are 1-3-1-0 in the month of December. And the Admirals only have a single win in regulation in their last four wins. Who was it they defeated in regulation last? The Iowa Wild – who set the table for the Admirals this weekend in an attempt to right the ship.
The Wild enter tonight’s game with a record of 12-8-5-1 (30 points, 0.577 points percentage). That puts them directly ahead of the Admirals (0.521) in the Central Division standings. Similar to the Admirals the Wild have also been on a eventful stretch these last handful of games. They hold a 4-2-3-1 record from their last 10 games played but arrive to Milwaukee riding a bizarre six-game point streak that has seen them fall beyond regulation on four occasions: three in overtime and once in the shootout.
While overtime hockey would be fantastic to be avoided what needs to be highlighted is the start tonight by the Admirals. They have had a solid week of rest and practice. They are coming off of a 6-1 defeat on the road against the Manitoba Moose that really shined a light on turning over the puck and being beaten on the rush and to the puck. My headline that game was “Burn That Tape” but the Admirals went over it heavily as a talking point. Expect better execution and for those first few shifts to set a tone for -not just tonight- but the weekend.
Something that can be a bit jarring looking at the comparison to the Admirals and Wild is that the group in Iowa this season have the more dynamic offense. The Wild are averaging 3.08 goals per game compared to the Admirals’ 2.79 goals per game. These aren’t the basement dwellers of the past. Iowa have a really well balance team in 2017-18.
Leading the scoring charge for the Wild at the moment is Pat Cannone with 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 26 games. He is followed closely by Justin Kloos with 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) in 26 games as well as former-Admiral now captain of the Wild Cal O’Reilly who has produced 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 25 games. Amusingly, despite being the top three scorers on the roster, all three are harshly in the negative with their plus/minus ratings: Cannone (-3), Kloos (-7), and O’Reilly (-11).
In net the Wild are actually in a wee bit of a juggling state as the Minnesota Wild recalled goaltender Steve Michalek on emergency conditions yesterday. That caused Iowa to bring up Christian Frey from the Rapids City Rush (ECHL). That should mean duties tonight go to Niklas Svedberg who has a 6-7-2-1 record from 16 starts this season with a 2.81 goals against average, 0.909 save percentage, and a shutout. Svedberg faced the Admirals back on Opening Weekend where he lost both contests while posting a 4.17 goals against average and 0.830 save percentage.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game as well as the entire three-in-three weekend? Are the Iowa Wild a good table setter for the Milwaukee Admirals to turn a corner and get back to a winning run of form? How big of a boost is it going to be for the Admirals to have Frédérick Gaudreau, Emil Pettersson, and Anders Lindbäck in the lineup tonight?
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