Monsters: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals earned a 4-3 shootout win last night on the road against the Chicago Wolves. It’s important to take as many points as possible at this point. Last night it was against the top team in the Central Division. Tonight it’s a game against the bottom team in the Central Division. That said, the Cleveland Monsters are coming off of a 4-0 shutout on the road last night against the Iowa Wild. There are no push overs or guarantees in this division. The Admirals need to keep running the table to give themselves a chance.

The Monsters have a record of 23-37-7-3 (56 points, 0.400 points percentage). They have long been the worst team -by points percentage- in the AHL this season. Oddly, they’re slightly moving up towards the end of the campaign -by not necessarily doing well- and a strong finish could get them ahead of the Laval Rocket (0.401) and avoid that miserable distinction.

Last night’s game is hard to judge what’s what. The Iowa Wild are now on a nine-game winless run. They were in that fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division and have now crashed hard to end their season. The Admirals will be hoping that continues by the time they see them coming up shortly. But, the Monsters didn’t do anything over powering. They scored twice in the second and third period. They had a power-play and shorthanded goal from Jordan Schroeder. After their third goal they scored fifty-nine seconds later on a deflated Wild group. And then Jeff Zatkoff held serve stopping all twenty-five shots for the shutout.

So, was last night the Monsters turning a -very- late corner or simply catching a Wild team self destructing more and more to the finish line? My assumption: a little bit of both. What can now be thought of though is that dreaded bus ride from Des Moines to Milwaukee. We’ll see how much energy they have early in the game. Though both, of course, are on the back end of a two-in-two.

“Why have the Monsters struggled so much this season,” you ask. Great question, you.

The Monsters average the fewest goals per game (2.44) in the entire league. That’s been huge especially considering they are also near the top of the league in goals allowed per game (3.34). Since March, 17 games, the Monsters have averaged even fewer goals per game than their seasonal average (2.29) and have been shutout twice.

Against the Admirals this season the Monsters have actually been pretty good pests. The Admirals are only 4-3-0-0 against the Monsters this season. The past two games have ended in shutout fashion. The last game saw a twenty-seven save shutout by Zatkoff in Milwaukee in what was his Monsters debut. The Monsters won that game 5-0 with a Terry Broadhurst hat trick also taking place. Yet, that game was all the way back in January. The Admirals are a different team than the one that featured on that day. In fact, both are.

Case and point: two of the top scorers from this match-up, for both the Admirals and Monsters, are now over with the Arizona Coyotes organization. Trevor Murphy is up in the NHL with the Coyotes but had 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 7 games against the Monsters while Carter Camper, now with the Tucson Roadrunners, had 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists) in 7 games against the Admirals.

Behind them, Bobby Butler leads the way for the Admirals with 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 7 games against the Monsters. There are three other members of the Monsters who have 4 points in the season match-up including Justin Scott who has 2 goals and 2 assists in 7 games.

There have been five different starting goaltenders for the Monsters against the Admirals. Yes, it’s the back of a two-in-two but it feels Anders Lindbäck is likely the main man in net for the Admirals until their fate is sealed. He has made 4 starts against the Monsters this season and has gone 3-1-0-0 with a 2.93 goals against average and 0.910 save percentage. Troy Grosenick did make a start against the Monsters back on 10/21/17 and suffered a loss stopping 18/21 shots in the process.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Is this a “Trap Game” for the Milwaukee Admirals against the bottom dwellers of the Central Division? Do you have any fears that the Admirals could take the Cleveland Monsters lightly and see their playoff hopes get squashed in the process?

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