The Milwaukee Admirals winning streak: done. What follows next can go a long way into determining the approach for the rest of this season. The Admirals can go back into sputtering, as they have a lot this season, or they can keep attacking one game at a time. Last night’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago Wolves ultimately hurts that much more because of the finish of a third period the Admirals did great in.
What the Admirals have to do in order for a result to turn their way is accomplish a fast paced and crisp first period. They lagged as a group last weekend against the Rockford IceHogs. That almost resulted in an all-time low for shots on goal in a single game. The Admirals can’t afford anymore lull moments. Tonight’s first period can paint one heck of a picture for a response by the Admirals after adversity yesterday.
The IceHogs enter tonight’s game with a record of 29-24-3-3 (64 points, 0.542 points percentage). They are currently tied with the Admirals at 0.542 points percentage. Because the IceHogs have that game in-hand they actually are seated fifth in the Central Division standings as play opens up tonight. They have gone 4-6-0-0 across their last 10 games. The IceHogs last game was a week ago when they earned a 3-0 shutout over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
That last game being a week ago should be an interesting note to this game. On one hand, that is a long time off after such a good result for the IceHogs. You probably would have liked to have built off of that right away. On the other hand, that game was an endurance test for the IceHogs defensively, Collin Delia in net, and who ever was operating the penalty box doors.
The Admirals felt that wave upon wave of attack that the Penguins could throw down. And so did the IceHogs. The Penguins out shot the IceHogs 27-14 from the second period to the final horn. It was on the man in net as well as the defense around him to minimize potential damage as best they could. Delia ended up earning a 34-save shutout on the night to earn his first career AHL shutout. That would propel him to taking the most recent CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors. The offense was timely. And that game saw 66 penalty minutes combined between the two teams. It was a chippy one but a night that the IceHogs could be proud of.
What will now be fascinating is if that form for the IceHogs gets lost or rejuvenated with energy after a week out of action. The game prior to that Penguins contest for the IceHogs was against the Admirals at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. It was as bizarre as it gets but the Admirals won 4-1 with only 12 shots on goal, recording the shot #10 with 5:07 remaining in regulation, scoring from it, and scoring on the following two shots. The speed element of the IceHogs was big that night. The Admirals slowly adjusted to it but they can’t afford another sluggish start while relying upon their goaltender to bail them out. The IceHogs have been ready for a week. The Admirals will need to match them right out of the gate.
What are your expectations for tonight’s game? How crucial is tonight’s first period give how both teams need to set a tone early? How do the Milwaukee Admirals avoid a possible disaster game the likes of which their last time out against the Rockford IceHogs provided? Do you at least think how the Admirals ended last night’s game that the third period effort could trickle into the start tonight?
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