The Milwaukee Admirals are on a three-game winning streak and have scored 10 goals in the first two-legs of this weekend’s three-in-three. And, hey, that is 10 goals produced all without their leading scorer Bobby Butler. The depth of the Admirals needed to start coming to the forefront and being a reason for the Admirals winning games. That has happened of late and has seen great progressions for the defense after a six-game losing streak. The Admirals have an opportunity to sweep a three-in-three set for the first time since the start of the 2015-16 season this evening. What stands in front of them from that and a four-game winning streak are a Stockton Heat squad on a winning streak of their own.
The Heat arrive to Milwaukee -much like the San Antonio Rampage the night before- after having played a road game against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Heat grinded out a 3-2 victory in a shootout at the Van Andel Arena to get them a two-game winning streak. That game last night for the Heat was their first taste of action in a full week. Their last game before that was a 4-2 road win against the San Jose Barracuda.
Entering this game the Heat have a record of 22-16-2-3 (49 points, 0.570 points percentage) which seats them fourth in the Pacific Division. It is actually getting pretty amazing to look at the Western Conference playoff picture. The difference between third and twelfth place is 0.051 on points percentage. Additionally, the Eastern Conference features five teams with a record below 0.500 while the Western Conference has only.. the Cleveland Monsters. It’s a woodchipper out in the West.
There is no sophomore slump taking place for Andrew Mangiapane this season. The 21-year old leads the Heat in scoring with 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 32 games. He also has played 9 games in the NHL with the Calgary Flames this season. Mangiapane should surpass his rookie total with the Heat which saw him produce 41 points (20 goals, 21 assists) in 66 games.
Among the top scorers of the Heat you will find a pair of defensemen. Tyler Wotherspoon has 28 points (5 goals, 23 assists) in 43 games this. That is the seventh most points and third most assists by a defenseman in the AHL this season. Rasmus Andersson is right there with Wotherspoon and is also dodging a sophomore slump. Andersson has 26 points (4 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games this season.
Between the pipes for the Heat last was Jon Gillies. He stopped 25/27 shots and most importantly both shootout attempts he faced to secure the win. Gillies has had the majority of starts for the Heat in 2017-18 and has a record of 14-12-2-2 from 30 appearances with a 2.61 goals against average and 0.915 save percentage. Gillies is tied with both Garret Sparks and Zane McIntyre for the league lead in shutouts with 4.
If you feel Gillies has played a lot, 30 appearances from the Heat’s 43 games, than it might be time for you to reconsider what the Admirals have had in Anders Lindbäck in 2017-18. After last night’s efforts Lindbäck extended his league lead for AHL goaltending in games played (36), wins (21), and he naturally also leads the league in saves (1034) and shots against (1140). It might not be totally out of question for the Admirals to rest the Big Swede rather than work him for the trifecta this weekend. Though, he continues to be one of -if not the- Admirals most reliable player night after night.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Will the Milwaukee Admirals be able to complete the three-in-three sweep to extend their winning streak to four-games? If you are the Admirals: do you consider starting Jake Paterson?
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