The Milwaukee Admirals first game out of the AHL All-Star break is a road clash against the Chicago Wolves. Things soured for the Admirals in the month of January. They went from a season best four-game winning streak but ended the month on a season worst four-game losing streak. That losing streak is active and all defeats came inside regulation. The Admirals appeared to greatly need the break in order to physically and mentally recharge. With the Wolves tonight and one of the best teams in the AHL, the Manitoba Moose, awaiting for them in Milwaukee the next two games: this is the time for the Admirals to start waking up and playing to their full potential.
The Wolves are currently in third place of the Central Division standings with a record of 22-15-6-2 (52 points, 0.578 points percentage). The Central Division continues to be hugely impressive from second place (Wild) to sixth place (Admirals). The difference between second and sixth place is 0.056 in points percentage. Of that mix, the Admirals have played the fewest amount of games as well as the fewest amount of home games. The Admirals are tied with the Toronto Marlies for having played the second fewest home games (19) in the AHL. Only the Ontario Reign (18) have played at home less.
Speaking of playing on home ice: that has been a strong point for the Wolves. At the Allstate Arena this season the Wolves have gone 14-6-1-0 (29 points, 0.690 points percentage). That is the best home record in the Western Conference. Only the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have a better home record (0.729) than the Wolves in the entirety of the AHL. The Wolves currently have an active ten-game winning streak on home ice.
Against the Wolves this season the Admirals have had the narrow advantage with a 4-2-1-0 record this season. The Amtrak Rivalry has seen three-games spill beyond regulation already -but- beyond that it has also featured a further 2 games separated by a single goal once the final horn in regulation sounded. The Admirals are 1-2-0-0 playing on the road at the Allstate Arena in 2017-18.
The Wolves have four players above the 30 point plateau at this stage of the season. There are joint leading scorers on the Wolves at the moment: Brandon Pirri has 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists) in 36 games while T.J. Tynan has 34 points (9 goals, 25 assists) in 45 games. They are followed by the likes of Tomas Hyka (12 goals, 19 assists) and Teemu Pulkkinen (11 goals, 20 assists).
The Admirals only have a single player at that plateau which is Bobby Butler who has 33 points (20 goals, 13 assists) in 43 games. That level of production for the Admirals is going to need to be filled very soon as Butler is joining Team USA in PyeongChang for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Butler and Pirri are the leading scorers of this year’s Amtrak Rivalry as both have produced 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists).
At the moment the Wolves have three goaltenders in their camp: Oscar Dansk, Kasimir Kaskisuo, and Maxime Lagacé.
Injury has made for a difficult season for Dansk who has played 4 games in the NHL and just 1 game in the AHL. In his time with the Vegas Golden Knights he made 4 appearances and was able to earn 3 wins from the 3 starts he was given. He had a 32-save shutout against the Colorado Avalanche on 10/27/17 and his overall numbers in the NHL were incredible: 1.78 goals against average and 0.946 save percentage. His lone appearance with the Wolves came back on 10/7/17 in an overtime loss against the Texas Stars where he stopped 30/36 shots on the evening.
Lagacé has been the go-to option for the Wolves against the Admirals this season. He has made 3 starts against the Admirals and gone 2-0-0-1 with a 1.94 goals against average and 0.929 save percentage. Kaskisuo has made a single start against the Admirals this season and lost in Milwaukee back on 11/8/17.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Will the AHL All-Star break help the Milwaukee Admirals to get back into winning ways? How crucial is this first weekend out of the break for the Admirals to start establishing a winning mentality for the second half of the season?
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