This is the end. The Milwaukee Admirals and Iowa Wild are set to finish the 2017-18 season with a bang. Wells Fargo Arena tonight, UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena tomorrow night. And, if their last game is anything to go by, we might be in for quality entertainment. The weight of making the playoffs is off of these two teams. Both have been eliminated from playoff contention. Instead they are going to be playing for pride.
The Wild’s record entering these final two games of the season rests at 31-27-10-6 (78 points, 0.527 points percentage). While the Admirals buried themselves in a hole early it is the Wild who buried themselves at the finish. The Wild went on a nine-game winless stretch that pulled them from a playoff spot and all the way into sixth place of the Central Division. If the Admirals so much as earn a point tonight or tomorrow the Admirals will lock up the fifth spot over the Wild.
So.. about that last game between the Admirals and Wild. That one was absolutely nuts. I think it goes without saying but if we can have more of Admirals captain Trevor Smith against Wild goaltender Niklas Svedberg it would be lovely.
Things boiled over after an Admirals five-on-three power-play in which Smith was knocked over by a Wild played into their own netminder. Smith was given an extra shove but then decided to give about two good ones back towards Svedberg. That got the goalie hot and he proceeded to try and fight Smith before a big scrum broke out. Troy Grosenick, who started that contest, skated to center ice in case he needed to get involved if Svedberg continued his rampage.
That wouldn’t be the last of it either as the Admirals game-winning goal in overtime saw Smith make a power move to the net, get the finish, get squeezed into the net, and give one little parting shot to the head of Svedberg causing another scrum to breakout.
But wait – that’s not all!
Brandon Bollig and Kurtis Gabriel were jaw-jacking the entire game. And, you would think a proper fight would cool things down somewhat, but they just kept on going and going. I suspect we’re in for another round or two of Bollig vs. Gabriel this weekend. Neither are in jeopardy of getting caught out by the AHL Fighting Major policy that would slap them with suspensions at season’s end.
Away from that there is then the uniqueness to what this game has become versus what it had been about. The Admirals no longer are burdened with the pressure of needing to make the playoffs. It isn’t to say they will play a completely different style of hockey but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a much looser and more open game played on the Admirals part. Mistakes will probably happen -but- I think there will be far more scoring opportunities generated this weekend on the Admirals part.
In net, I would expect to see Troy Grosenick be given the nod for the Admirals. Though, in the final two games of this season, there are two unique options around the team. Niclas Westerholm has been around the team for about a week after signing a three-year entry level contract with the Nashville Predators. Kyle Hayton just signed an amateur try-out contract after completing his collegiate career off with a one-year spell with the Wisconsin Badgers. There are options on the table for the Admirals to get a sense for pieces that could be around next season. Though, by that same thought, Grosenick is in that camp and he’s the best option for right now.
What are your expectations for this final weekend of the season? What would you like to see out of the Milwaukee Admirals in these final two games? Do you expect any blowback between the Admirals and Wild after how that last game went down?
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