Rampage: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

These guys again? That’s right. The San Antonio Rampage are back once again at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. They played the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday night and lost 5-4 in overtime. The Admirals continued on to sweep the weekend three-in-three and are arriving to tonight on a four-game winning streak. The Rampage are heading in the opposite direction and are now on a five-game winless stretch (0-3-2-0). If Saturday’s game felt feisty you can expect more fireworks as both sides should be playing with desperation.

The Rampage are “fresh” from a Monday night defeat at the hands of the Iowa Wild. I say “fresh” because they turned up to Milwaukee last night and are currently in the run of an absurd road trip. The Rampage only play a single home game in the all of February – and that came in the first contest of the month. They are on a twelve game road trip and this tonight is the sixth stop.

As noted, the Rampage are currently in a bad stretch of form. They now have a record of 24-20-6-0 (54 points, 0.540 points) and are in sixth place of the Pacific Division and eleventh in the Western Conference standings. I can’t imagine this marathon of a road trip can do them any favors and their road record this season backs that up. They are the worst road team in the entire Pacific Division: 9-13-3-0 (21 points, 0.420 points percentage).

It’s always fun to name drop former Admiral Félix Girard when he comes back and to talk up where he is at since being traded.. Now we need to discard a lot of those past memories because he has played twice in Milwaukee against his former team now and scored 3 goals. In fact, Girard is the leading scorer for the Rampage against the Admirals this season (2 goals, 1 assist) along with forward Trent Vogelhuber (3 assists). The Admirals need to find a way to minimize the spark plug effect Girard can have in games by getting in his face and slowing him down.

There was an immense amount of roster activity made by the Rampage yesterday. Whether or not any of it gets corrected by game time will be a wait and see situation but: Rocco Grimaldi and Duncan Siemens were recalled by the Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Oskar Sundqvist was recalled by the St. Louis Blues (NHL), Andrei Mironov was reassigned by Colorado to San Antonio, Jean-Christophe Beaudin was recalled to San Antonio from the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), and Nolan De Jong returned on loan to Colorado (ECHL) from San Antonio.

(1) Be thankful that the Admirals never shared multiple NHL affiliates at the same time. (2) It will be interesting to see if all of these changes within the Rampage can actually provide a nice boost given the current state of their results slipping out of reach. A slight shake-up can often times provide that. It’s something to watch out for.

UPDATE. You can now add forward Tage Thompson to the mix as he was reassigned by the Blues to the Rampage this afternoon. He has split this season between the NHL and AHL. With the Rampage he has produced 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 26 games. At the NHL level the 20-year old first-year pro has logged 24 games with the Blues and recorded 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists).

As far as goaltending goes I believe it might be a good idea for the Rampage to stick with Monday’s starter in Iowa, Ville Husso. The 23-year old Finn stopped 35/38 shots in the loss to the Wild but owns the loan win against the Admirals by a Rampage goaltender in the last 11 games spread across the last 3 seasons. He started one month ago on 1/14/18 in San Antonio and stopped 29/30 shots against the Admirals in a 3-1 Rampage victory.

As for the Admirals goaltender of choice? It would be a slight surprise if Anders Lindbäck didn’t immediately go back in net after Jake Paterson received a start to end the three-in-three weekend. That was only the second time all season that Lindbäck served as the Admirals back-up during a game. And, really, Lindbäck has worked so often that you can lose sight of what him after getting actual rest can do for the big Swede.

It hasn’t happened all that often but this would be only the eighth such time that Lindbäck would have made a start after not playing in net for the Admirals in 2017-18. In the games following a break for Lindbäck he has a record of 5-1-1-0 with a 2.27 goals against average, 0.933 save percentage, and also a shutout. He has been a work horse all season but appears to react rather well following those temporary stops from AHL activity.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Will the Milwaukee Admirals manage to continue their winning form? How important is it for the Admirals to get the game’s opening goal and play with a lead for a change or do they play better in pursuit mode?

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