We’re into the All-Star Week stretch. The Milwaukee Admirals are in action tonight and on Saturday night at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Those are the last games ahead of the 2018 AHL All-Star festivities kick-off in Utica, New York on Sunday night with the Skills Competition and then on Monday night for the All-Star Challenge. The Admirals will be represented by Anders Lindbäck and Emil Pettersson it Utica. But, firstly, they’ll need to handle the Cleveland Monsters and Ontario Reign. The time to get back to winning ways after a lull begins now.
The Monsters arrive to Milwaukee with a record of 12-21-3-3 (30 points, 0.385 points percentage). They are 3-6-0-1 in their last 10 games and -like the Admirals- are entering after successive defeats in regulation. The Monsters are last in the Central Division and have the worst record in the Western Conference. They can thank the Binghamton Devils (0.378) for having the only record worse off in the AHL for the moment.
What still greatly stands out with the Monsters is their inability to generate offense. The Monsters have produced 88 goals as a team this season which is the least amount in the AHL. The next closest team to them in that regard are the San Jose Barracuda who have 94 goals on the season and having played 2 games less than the Monsters. Additionally, the Monsters are twelfth in the AHL in goals against having conceded 130 goals in 39 games.
Not to kick the Monsters too much while they are down. They did start this season’s head-to-head against the Admirals with really strong efforts and winning twice in Cleveland while Juuse Saros was in net. Ever since, this season’s series has shifted heavily back to the Admirals with four consecutive wins. Saros was able to get his revenge last time out in a Finnish goalie battle that ended with a 1-0 shutout win for the Admirals at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
There was roster news before this game on the part of the Monsters. The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired goaltender Jeff Zatkoff from the Los Angeles Kings organization in exchange for future considerations and was then assigned to the AHL. Zatkoff is a 30-year old veteran who has logged 48 career games in the NHL and 208 career games in the AHL. He has twice won the Harry (Hap) Holmes Memorial Award (2012-13 & 2014-15) for having the AHL’s lowest goals against average. He enters a goaltending mix with the Monsters that also has Matiss Kivlenieks, and Brad Thiessen.
The Monsters leading scorer also happens to be the top scorer in this match-up. Carter Camper has recorded a team best 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) in 39 games. He has tallied 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 6 games against the Admirals. On the flip-side the Admirals have three players who have scored 5 points against the Monsters: Bobby Butler, Trevor Murphy, and Frédérick Gaudreau.
One further thing to consider tonight: dropping the gloves. The Admirals and Monsters have exchanged fists on four times already this season out of 6 games. That is the most fights by the Admirals against any single opponent this season. Cody Bass and Pierre-Cédric Labrie both have a pair of fights. Brett Gallant also has a pair of fights and they were against both Bass and Labrie.
On Saturday night my laptop suffered an issue and stopped working. I was unable to complete a Game Recap or get back online until late Monday night. It was the first time since I started up on Admirals Roundtable that I failed to deliver a Game Recap and I deeply apologize for that. I can happily say that I have upgraded to a new laptop and am back and rolling. I’m hoping to reflect that this week while the Admirals are practicing at home before the AHL All-Star Break. We haven’t had new editions of Fifteen in too long. That’s my aim for the upcoming days and weeks ahead.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Can the Milwaukee Admirals rebound tonight or is there the chance the get caught out by the Cleveland Monsters? With the AHL All-Star Break coming up how important is it for the Admirals to really push a high pace from start to finish with this week’s games at home?
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