The only thing separating the Milwaukee Admirals from being eliminated from playoff eligibility last night was a three-goal third period by the Texas Stars to give them a 4-3 victory over the Rockford IceHogs. The Admirals 5-2 loss to the Chicago Wolves meant that both the Wolves and Manitoba Moose clinched a spot last night. The Grand Rapids Griffins 4-1 win over the Tucson Roadrunners with the Admirals loss meant they clinched a spot last night.
All that remains is a single point of space. There is no more wiggle room. If the Admirals do not run the table it is over. As that needs to happen they need the IceHogs to lose out in regulation for the rest of the season. So much as the Admirals taking an overtime loss and it is done. They have no ability to take the tiebreak. They need to maintain that magic number for the IceHogs at one.
The Iowa Wild aren’t just tonight’s adversary. The Admirals will be facing off with the Wild for three of these final four games in the 2017-18 regular season schedule.
Entering today’s contest the Wild hold a record of 31-26-9-6 (77 points, 0.535 points percentage). It’s hard to believe at this point but that run was the thunderous blow that booted the Wild from inside that top four of the Central Division to out of the playoff picture entirely. They had been having such a nice season up until this harsh finish. Now that they’ve been eliminated it really comes down to playing the game without pressure and simply performing to the best of their ability.
The Wild’s last game was huge for moral’s sake. They earned a 7-3 victory at home against the Wolves to snap what was a nine-game winless skid. Perhaps it was just a long time coming but they came out of the gates on fire and took a 5-1 first period lead. They managed the game from the front until the finish and their power-play went 3/5 on the night.
Looking at the AHL’s scoring leaders this season you will find two members of the Wild inside the top ten. Cal O’Reilly is enjoying his best AHL season since 2014-15 and ranks ninth in the league with 60 points (14 goals, 46 assists) in 71 games. Sam Anas is right behind him in league scoring having 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) in 66 games. He scored a pair of goals last time out for the Wild and has scored 5 goals in their last 8 games.
It remains a tandem effort in net for the Wild. Niklas Svedberg remains the workhorse having played in 42 games this season with a record of 18-17-3-3, 2.84 goals against average, 0.906 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. He is joined by Steve Michalek who has made 25 appearances with a record of 12-7-4-2 while holding a 3.13 goals against average and 0.906 save percentage.
What are your expectations for today’s game? Will the Milwaukee Admirals be able to extend their chances to Tuesday night when they finish the season series with the Chicago Wolves?
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