Category: Scouting

Round 1: The Battle for Redemption

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

If I really had to pick who the Milwaukee Admirals were to face in the opening round of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs – it would be the Grand Rapids Griffins. There are so many storylines that can make this five-game series special and you can start exactly a season ago when these two opened up the playoffs against each other on the back of the Admirals winning the Central Division title. That Admirals team was great. Yet, this year’s Admirals team matches up even better against this year’s Griffins and the chance for redemption is available.

~Redemption~

When the Admirals entered last year’s opening round series with the Griffins they entered having gone 3-5-0-0 against them during the 2015-16 regular season. All of their wins came on home ice and -at the time- they hadn’t won on the road in Grand Rapids since 1/31/15. This season, the Admirals are 5-6-1-0 against the Griffins and the majority of their wins have come at the Van Andel Arena. The Admirals won three of six games in Grand Rapids this season.

There are a few standout moments from when these two locked horns last year. They all end up being moments that ended with officials pausing the action only to give the Griffins a boost.

When the Admirals hosted Game 2 last season they were wrongly negated a goal for goaltender interference at a point in the game when they were starting to generate a solid push. The delay stunted that push and disallowed a perfectly good goal for Max Görtz. The Admirals would later get a goal from Vladislav Kamenev but lose on that disallowed goal call.

Game 3 of last year’s playoff series match up almost doesn’t need an introduction. That was the “Replacement Net” game in which a 1-0 Admirals first period lead suddenly vanished as not one but two shots by the Griffins in the second period were judged to have gone through the net for goals. The delay that came from both reviews only could have ever ended in stunting momentum that the Admirals generated and then giving it back to the Griffins to recover and surge – which they did en route to a series sweep.

Needless to say, I hope the officials do a thorough check on both nets for all games against the Griffins at the Van Andel Arena this time around.

~The Road Ahead~

As the Admirals will need to be road warriors in the playoffs everyone should rest in knowing that the Admirals ended the season as the league’s third best road team with a record of 23-11-1-3 (50 points, 0.658 points percentage). That will of course best tested out the gate against the Griffins who tied for eighth best in the league this season with a home record of 25-11-0-2 (52 points, 0.684 points percentage).

Another point of interest for the home-road splits between these two teams will be on special teams. The Admirals had the third best road penalty kill in the AHL this season killing  84.7%. The Griffins home power-play was the second best in the AHL at 26.2% which was marginally less than the best by the San Jose Barracuda (26.5%). The Admirals road power-play stands at 17.2% while the Griffins home penalty kill is 83.9%.

When you flip the two, the Admirals finished the regular season right behind the Griffins with the third best home power-play at 24.6%. The Admirals home penalty kill stood at 82.1%. The Griffins road penalty kill was 82.1% and their road power-play was the best in the entire league at 22.5%.

So, in short, penalties conceded in this series could make or break a game – especially at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. We saw a taste of that in the regular season finale when the Griffins won 5-1 with their power-play going 2/5 and penalty kill working a perfect 7/7. The chances with the man-advantage need to be capitalized upon for the Admirals and they will need to play mistake free hockey in order to lessen trips to the penalty box.

~Less Talk, More Play~

It makes sense for divisional opponents to have some bad blood between them but the Admirals and Griffins rivalry has mainly been contested out of supremacy rather than sheer nastiness on the ice. Earlier in the season Joe Hicketts did deliver a low-bridge check against Harry Zolnierczyk and become a slight lightning rod figure. That seems to have faded over time and things stick more to hard play.

That’s not to say that these two can’t get feisty. The talk I hear from most who play against the Griffins is that they are a team that talk, talk, and talk some more while never being the type to back of their words with a fight. You can get a general sense for some of their gamesmanship when the Admirals face them because they can get under the skin through players such as Tyler Bertuzzi, Mitch Callahan, and Colin Campbell.

If not talk alone, the Griffins do get into very underhanded tactics in an effort to win games despite having the talent to win on talent alone. Last year’s playoffs saw them rip the helmet off of Stefan Elliott and then push a puck at him to earn a helmet violation. As if to remind everyone of that moment – the Griffins did the exact same thing twice during the regular season finale. They ripped Trevor Murphy‘s helmet off and then passed a puck at his skates as he was skating towards the bench to make the necessary change. That wasn’t called -but- when they did it moments later to Mike Liambas – it was. It should go without saying but you’d hope the officials heading into this series are aware of this shady play by the Griffins and start actually calling for roughing when they rip off helmets rather than the secondary helmet violation that follows. This shouldn’t be a thing. The Griffins have somehow made it one.

~Key Contributors~

When you get away from antics and get down to the skill – the Admirals and Griffins are incredibly similar teams. Both can match up in speed, skill, strength, and goaltending. It always feels that the winner when these two meet ends up being the one who maximizes the best use of those qualities on the night.

The Griffins have some real firepower on offense and heads up playmakers. Matt Lorito ended the season as the team’s top scorer by a point ahead of Ben Street. And those two weren’t alone at 50+ points on the season for the Griffins as Evgeny Svechnikov and Martin Frk rounded that list off. Those top three names all had 30 assists or more while it was Frk ending the season as the Griffins top goal scorer with 27.

When looking at the Admirals you’re getting a team entering the playoffs without its best player this season. As rough as it might feel not having Pontus Åberg in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs with the Admirals one would have a tough time arguing he doesn’t belong with the Nashville Predators during their 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. This entire season has seen Åberg be a dynamic all-around force for the Admirals and he ended the regular season as the team’s top scorer with 52 points (31 goals, 21 assists) in 56 games.  It will be difficult to fully replace his efforts on the ice -but- his absence creates serious opportunities.

Tyler Moy and Yakov Trenin both arrived at the completion of their respective collegiate and junior playing seasons and both have had time to work their way into the Admirals before the playoffs started. Moy and Trenin tallied their first pro goals last week and it was Trenin who made his pro debut this time last season in the opening round of the playoffs against these exact same Griffins. Both are going to be afforded a chance to really take a leap forward early in their pro careers in an intense playoff atmosphere.

Speaking about playoff experience. The Admirals happen to have someone in their lineup who has 67 career games of Stanley Cup Playoffs experience in Mike Ribeiro. It took the first few games for him and his linemates Frédérick Gaudreau and Anthony Richard to get going but all have been outstanding since coming together. That line, as well as the group featuring Kamenev centering Adam Payerl and Justin Kirkland, have been a constant as far as work ethic is concerned. Those groups could be key for this first round series.

~Between the Pipes~

The Griffins have a very good goaltender in Jared Coreau who should be -the guy- for them in this series. That said, he has split work this season alongside 26-year old Eddie Pasquale and it wasn’t Coreau in net for the Griffins during last year’s playoff series. That means things are a little up in the air for them – but both should be serviceable.

Against the Admirals this season Coreau did make more appearances than Pasquale. Coreau went 3-3-0-0 from 6 appearances with a 2.53 goals against average and 0.904 save percentage. Pasquale managed better numbers in his time against the Admirals this season with a 4-1-0-0 record from 5 appearances with a 1.79 goals against average, 0.945 save percentage, and 2 shutouts.

There is far less mystery when it comes to what the Admirals will do in net. Marek Mazanec has been the Admirals anchor for the 2016-17 season and should continue to be for the playoffs.

Mazanec’s numbers this season have been good. He has a record of 27-17-2-1 from 47 appearances with a 2.65 goals against average, 0.912 save percentage, and 3 shutouts. Yet, things get a bit sour for him when specifically looking at how this season has been against the Griffins. He has a 3-4-1-0 record this season against Grand Rapids with a 3.50 goals against average and 0.887 save percentage.

~No Excuses~

While the Admirals top scorer is up with their NHL affiliate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Griffins don’t have that issue. The Detroit Red Wings playoff streak of 25-seasons ended this year and that allows for the Griffins to load up. This shouldn’t be an issue to the Admirals though. Above all, the Admirals biggest key to success for this series and the entire 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs should be to focus on their game and the strengths. The first challenge that awaits them is a big one but one that should also put that mindset into perspective. If the Admirals play their brand of hockey they should be good for a long run.

How do you see this opening round series between the Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins playing out? Who will be the crucial figures for the Admirals that need to step up and deliver against the Griffins? What do the Admirals need to do in order to prevent results such as the regular season finale?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Mark Newman)

Tonight is the 2016-17 regular season finale for the AHL. There are still a few variables yet to be cemented as far as the playoff picture goes and tonight’s game could serve as a minor preview into just what could be the opening round series. The Milwaukee Admirals and Grand Rapids Griffins met last season in the opening round. That ended under very disappointing circumstances. With the right results unfolding tonight the Admirals could get a shot at redemption against the Griffins in the opening round of this year’s playoffs.

What the landscape of the Central Division looks like right now is rather fascinating. The Admirals are the lone team who really has nothing to gain or lose today. It’s the battle for the Central Division crown as well as the fourth and final playoff spot that is up for grabs.

The Cleveland Monsters actually ended their season yesterday and did so getting shutout in a 1-0 game at home against the Manitoba Moose. That could prove to be disastrous as last night the Charlotte Checkers fought back to earn a point in a 3-2 overtime loss on the road against the Griffins. That means that the Monsters need the Checkers to lose in regulation tonight as they face the current Central Division leading Chicago Wolves on the road. If the Checkers were to lose in overtime the tiebreak would favor them based on regulation and overtime wins (ROW). The Monsters will be begging for a Wolves regulation win.

Meanwhile, the Griffins and Wolves are separated by a single point for the Central Division crown on the final day of the regular season. The Wolves have 99 points with 41 ROW while the Griffins have 98 points and 43 ROW. Who wins the Central Division title and who the Admirals will face in the opening round of the playoffs is still very much up in the air. That game in Chicago between the Wolves and Checkers which starts at 7:00 PM CDT is the one that will solidify the playoff picture coming out of the division.

In some respects, I assume yourselves much like myself are wondering where this season has gone for the Griffins as they had been -the- dominant team within the division for the longest time while the Wolves were in chase mode with their high powered offense. Yet, since March 29th, they have gone 3-5-0-1. That spell started with a 3-2 regulation loss at home to the Admirals. They have won their last two games entering tonight but the Griffins won those in a shootout and in overtime against the Checkers in playoff style games. The Griffins have been grinding to the finish line.

Furthering the grind, the Griffins haven’t been -as- dominant over the Admirals as recent years have felt like. The Admirals are 5-5-1-0 against the Griffins this season with the majority of their wins coming at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. With a win tonight for the Admirals they will have beaten the Griffins as many times this season as they did the previous two seasons combined.

As the on-ice product for today goes: it is a mystery. It truly is. Last night, Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason stated that they would be resting some guys for tonight’s game which makes me believe we’ll be seeing a potential mix that includes: Derek Army, Stephen Perfetto, Rick Pinkston, Andrew O’Brien and Tyler Kelleher if they are healthy enough to play, and Jonas Gunnarsson in net.

If that is what the Admirals are planning in doing, and the Griffins go full assault with their strongest lineup in an effort to win the Central Division title, it doesn’t mean tonight’s game will be -bad- but it does create a heck of a test for players on the Admirals lineup that will be looking to make a bigger case for themselves on the playoff roster in the event that depth choices are required.

The Admirals are the ones tonight with nothing to play for. The Admirals players being rotated into the mix have a lot to play for. There will still a very competitive atmosphere on the ice but I’m expecting a more gritty and grinding style contest than the run and gun goal scoring extravaganza that was cooked up against the Rockford IceHogs last night. If the Admirals can win with their depth against a potential opening round opponent loading up to attempt a division title win? It could be a big confidence crusher for the Griffins and boost for the Admirals if that is in fact the first round series.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game and how the Central Division playoff picture is going to pan out? Do you think that the Milwaukee Admirals are right to rest their starting core that played these last two games and have been building momentum?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

This past weekend’s three-in-three was a mixed bag for the Milwaukee Admirals that had a bit more bad than there was good. Out of all three of those games though the one that probably stings the most was the performance against the Rockford IceHogs.

The Cleveland Monsters are one of the hottest teams in the AHL at the moment and were and still are fighting for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Iowa Wild coming into the weekend were still in contention, were officially eliminated just prior to puck drop, and delivered a quick start off two bad Admirals turnovers. Those games were rather good outside of a period of hockey or an opening two minutes of chaos. Saturday’s game against the IceHogs was tough sledding from the word “GO.”

What stood out to me the most in that 4-2 loss for the Admirals was the IceHogs blunt approach to the game. They were playing North-South and getting Marek Mazanec to work, work, and work some more. The Admirals were forced to defend and defend throughout the game and, if not for Mazanec, things could have gotten really out of hand in the very first period when the Admirals were outshot 17-7.

Today I feel the Admirals will be on much more high alert with the “rest days” for players being toned down as the final three games of the regular season are upon us. The Admirals have the IceHogs in Rockford tonight and on home ice on Friday night. It can all be utilized to help set a tone for the regular season finale in which the Admirals play against the Grand Rapids Griffins at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. If the season ended today – that is the Admirals opening round opponent in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. The rough three-in-three weekend is in the past. The Admirals playoff quality form needs to start clicking tonight.

The IceHogs will enter this contest with a record of 25-36-9-3 (62 points, 0.425 points percentage). They are not the worst team in the AHL. In fact, they aren’t even the worst team in the Western Conference. The IceHogs are ahead of the San Antonio Rampage (0.404), Binghamton Senators (0.397), Hartford Wold Pack (0.370).

As bad as things always seem to be this season for the IceHogs what almost gets lost is their much better form at the BMO Harris Bank Center. They have a 0.542 points percentage on home ice and have won their last two games. It’s actually their road record (0.311) that has buried them this season. It is the worst road record in the AHL.

Brandon Mashinter is the key player I would like to highlight for the IceHogs tonight. He has always been a very physical presence on the ice but he seems to play his best hockey against the Admirals. This season Mashinter has produced 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in 58 games. He has a team best 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) against the Admirals in 9 games this season including a goal scored on Saturday’s game and contributing 5 shots on goal.

What are you hoping for out of tonight’s game? Is it important for the Milwaukee Admirals to start stamping some authority down or are they still in a slight process of smoothing things out as younger prospects enter the lineup ahead of the playoff season? How do you think Tyler Moy will perform with the Admirals as he makes his pro debut?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Greg Hamil)

The Milwaukee Admirals had a tough go of things last night against the Cleveland Monsters. Their 1-0 shutout defeat was only the fourth time this season that the Admirals were blanked and it was the first time since 3/11/17 that they were. The Rockford IceHogs might be a nice way to rebound today. The Admirals are 6-1-1-1 against the IceHogs this season.

Coming into tonight’s game the IceHogs have a record of 24-35-9-3 (60 points, 0.423 points percentage). This is by a far margin the worst season in the IceHogs AHL history of the team which dates back to the 2007-08 campaign. Even if they were to win out they would still by 9 points shy of their previous low marks in the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons.

What the IceHogs do have going for them is a day of rest in the gas tank relative to the Admirals. The IceHogs last played on Thursday when they lost 3-1 on the road against the Iowa Wild. I would sympathize with the travel element in play for the IceHogs but the Admirals will be making that very same trip ASAP after tonight’s game to finish off a three-in-three weekend at the Wells Fargo Arena.

While the record and season for the IceHogs has been brutal the constant for teams in this position will always be that players are playing for pride and future work. There might only be so many players who’ll re-up to stay on the NHL/AHL cusp with the Chicago Blackhawks organization after a season such as this in Rockford but they will need to make the most of their time right now if they are to appeal to other organizations in the off-season as free agents. Just because their playoff hopes ended a long time ago won’t mean the IceHogs aren’t going to play desperate. A lot of players very much need to.

The active leading scorer on the IceHogs roster is Kyle Baun who has 32 points (14 goals, 18 assists) in 69 games played this season. He is followed by Erik Gustafsson who has 30 points (5 goals, 25 assists) and Brandon Mashinter who has 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists). Mashinter is the IceHogs leading scorer in this head-to-head with 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 8 games against the Admirals.

In net there is currently a table of four set for the IceHogs goaltenders. Jeff Glass, Lars Johansson, Mac Carruth, and Wouter Peeters are all on the roster at the moment. The safe assumption would be that those first two names mentioned would be the likely starters for both tonight or Wednesday’s upcoming contest with the Admirals travel to Rockford.

Expectations for tonight’s game? With Yakov Trenin now in the mix – who do you feel he replaces in the Milwaukee Admirals lineup? Will the inclusions from juniors help or hurt the Admirals? Would a loss today be cause for panic on your end?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

Monsters: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Darren Hauck)

The Milwaukee Admirals have been stationary since Sunday. In the process, some outside help had them officially clinching their spot in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. The team that dropped a point to make that happen were the Cleveland Monsters. While the Admirals might be good to go for the post-season the Monsters still are fighting for their playoff lives in a tight scrap for the fourth and final spot out of the Central Division.

If the season ended today the Monsters, the defending Calder Cup Champions, would be out of the playoffs. The Monsters currently rest in fifth place in the Central Division with a record of 35-28-4-4 (78 points, 0.549 points percentage). They trail the Charlotte Checkers (0.556) at the moment by a single point but are down on regulation/overtime wins (ROW) by five-games. That is a significant amount at this stage of the season to the point the Monsters really need to gain more points than the Checkers in order to make it into the playoffs. Not to be ignored are the sixth placed Iowa Wild, who the Admirals face on the road this Sunday, who stand at 33-30-6-2 (74 points, 0.521 points percentage) with a one-game better ROW mark than the Monsters. It’s extremely close to decide that final spot out of the Central Division.

That said, as rough as it might feel things have been for the Monsters this season, the current run of form they are on has been excellent. They have been playing some of their best hockey right now and it was this time a season ago when they became white hot en route to winning the Calder Cup. In their last ten-games they have gone 8-1-1-0 to put themselves back into playoff contention. In their past three road games they have a point steak that has them 2-0-1-0.

If that isn’t enough to make today that much more of a warning for the sort of team that the Admirals will be facing the team should know well enough from the head-to-head this season. The Monsters are 4-2-1-0 against the Admirals this season including a perfect record at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. In the three-games played in Milwaukee the Monsters have outscored the Admirals 14-6.

Sonny Milano is the man leading the charge for the Monsters offense this season. He is the lone player on their roster at the 40 points plateau and has a team best 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in only 59 games played. He is followed by the likes of: T.J. Tynan, 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists)… Markus Hännikäinen, 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists)… and Daniel Zaar, 30 points (8 goals, 22 assists).

Anton Forsberg has been the main man for the Monsters between the pipes this season. He has done a fantastic job, as well. This season he has a record of 24-16-2-2 from 47 appearances with a 2.30 goals against average, 0.925 save percentage, and 3 shutouts. Those all either match or are career bests for the 24-year old Swede in the AHL. Against the Admirals this season he is 3-2-0-0 with a 2.22 goals against average and 0.931 save percentage. He is currently being backed up by Brad Thiessen and Oscar Dansk.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with Admirals head coach Dean Evason following practice at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. This was our interview which touches upon the weekend, the week that was, and a few other news items including injury updates on Jimmy Oligny and Cody Bass.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game as well as this weekend’s three-in-three for the Milwaukee Admirals? Is there the chance that this team suffers a lapse now that they have clinched a playoff spot? Could Samuel Girard end up becoming a secret weapon for the Admirals heading into the playoffs?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

Stars: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski // Texas Stars)

Happy April, everyone! It has been ages since the Milwaukee Admirals and Texas Stars last played. Yet, when they did, boy did an explosion take place and it is one that could have repercussions this weekend if the words and memory of a certain head coach hold strong.

The Admirals first two games against the Stars ended in wins but were entirely different games. Marek Mazanec was a rock for the Admirals as they earned a 4-3 win in the first meeting of the season. The following night things became ugly in the best of ways. The Admirals won 9-1 in Texas and it prompted Stars head coach Derek Laxdal to say the following after the game.

“There will be probably history next game because guys aren’t going to forget you’re down 8-1 and they’re putting their first power-play unit on the ice. Guys don’t forget that. Guys are upset. They’re getting shown up in their own building. So, there’s going to be a little bit of emotions there. Guys are stepping up for teammates. That’s good to see. At the end of the day it wasn’t a good night for us. Last night we played pretty well in the third period and had a chance to get some points and we didn’t. Tonight they were the better team.”

If “history” is going to be a thing that these guys are still clinging on to after more than three months of work? I’d keep my head up on the ice tonight and my eyes wide open if I’m sitting back inside the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

The Stars are on a three-in-three weekend. They lost 3-1 on the road last night to the Rockford IceHogs. They had the game’s opening goal coming from a penalty shot in the first period but that was that. Their record moved down to 30-33-1-4 (65 points, 0.478 points percentage). They have lost their last two games and only have won three of their last eleven games.

As always happens to be the case – I adore getting to match up with the Stars because it affords us here on Admirals Roundtable the chance to have a chat with Stephen Meserve of 100 Degree Hockey. There aren’t nearly enough beat writers or bloggers around the AHL landscape but he’s certainly top of the top, I’d say. He was once again kind enough to give us insight on the Stars’ season to date and much more in a Q&A.

~Q&A with Stephen Meserve~

Admirals Roundtable: The Texas Stars are not having the best of seasons out in the Pacific Division. What has been the story this season?

Stephen Meserve: I mean… yeah. The story has been mixed. Goaltending has been quite abhorrent. The Stars pinned their hopes to the combination of Maxime Lagacé and Philippe Desrosiers. As of today, Desrosiers is playing the ECHL outside the organization and Lagacé has just one start since the trade for Justin Peters in late February. The goaltending hasn’t been helped by a porous defense and the worst penalty kill in the league. Additionally, Texas has a bad tendency to cough up leads. They led 3-0 in Cleveland a few weeks ago only to lose 6-3, for example. They did nearly the same thing against Stockton last weekend. Put it all together and you have a middling season, just the second time ever that Texas will miss the playoffs.

AR: It always amuses me how similar AHL teams can be to their parent NHL clubs. Would it be fair to say that Dallas organization in general is having a down year? If so, how do things change for the better?

SM: Ha, if I knew the answer to this question, I would be working in hockey ops. Dallas and Texas are so very similar: poor goaltending combined with poor defense and no PK to speak of. Systemic changes are probably necessary and it is going to be a tough sell for anyone to make it back behind the benches next season in either city.

AR: The last time these two teams played was 12/17/16 when the Admirals won 9-1 in Texas. Stars head coach Laxdal said, for those who had forgotten, there will be “history” after that game. Are we in for some bad blood?

SM: I don’t know if there’s enough blood left in the thing to send any blood toward this beef. Texas has been playing some pretty demoralized hockey as of late. They aren’t brawlers and I think the 9-1 game was an exception to their normal game. That being said, the Stars did set a franchise record for penalty minutes this season against Tucson. They may very well be up for a fight since they’ve got nothing to lose. I’d rather not, since games with the Ads are usually quite entertaining due to the defensive styles of both teams. Wait, scratch that. Texas hasn’t played that style this season so maybe that isn’t a safeguard. We’ll have to see who starts.

AR: I feel a mandatory Travis Morin mention should come about here. For as rough or up-and-down as things can be he always seems to be a model of consistency, doesn’t he?

SM: Morin will be the only player to wear #23 for the Stars. I’ll help lead the pitchfork brigade if anyone else does. He intends to retire with the Stars, and I think his consistency proves that he deserves that chance.

AR: The Stars added a very familiar face to us Admirals people at the NHL Trade Deadline: former Rockford IceHogs forward Mark McNeill. How has he settled into a new setting? I had the feeling getting away from the tyranny of Ted Dent would do him a world of good.

SM: He’s gotten 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists in 14 games, immediately jumping into the top 6. He’s been good, but not great. I think getting into whatever this team turns into next season will give him a true chance at a fresh start. He’s gotten good minutes and been a PP contributor.

AR: Peters and Lagacé have split time this season in net. Yet, numbers-wise, things look painful. Is that a sign of the defense or has goaltending struggled in addition to the defense?

SM: See above… Yes, it’s been an all-around issue. Defense has done the goaltending no favors. The goaltending hasn’t held up its end of the bargain either. What you ended up getting was a defense that would let players walk in and a goalie that couldn’t make the big save when you needed it. Then, the team would get down by 2 or so and have to step it up to get back in it. This led to aggressiveness, which either tied the game or earned more penalties and goals against. If Texas did tie it or even go ahead, they’d lose steam by the third from all that aggressive play and give up a late goal to tie/lose. That about sums it up.

AR: The schedule sort of works against the Stars this weekend. The Stars Rockford ahead of the Saturday and Sunday games in Milwaukee. How will the Stars be handling the three-in-three?

SM: It is, oddly, the Stars’ first three-in-three of the season. It comes at the worst possible time… if the Stars were making a playoff push. However, they could be eliminated by Sunday, so that is something. I asked about this after the last game and Matej Stransky noted that they’ll just be keeping themselves energized, well fed and well-rested.

Cheers to Stephen Meserve of 100 Degree Hockey for taking the time to get us all up to speed on the Texas Stars. You can read more from him at his website and do give him a follow on Twitter (@100DegreeHockey).

What are your expectations for this weekend’s games against the Texas Stars? Will the Stars be out for blood after how the previous game between the two played out? If so, would it be smart for the Milwaukee Admirals to focus less on post-whistle activity and simply focus on “more of the same please” such as that 9-1 win in Texas?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

Yesterday we covered a fair bit on expectations for tonight’s match-up in Chatterbox. To be blunt about it this game should be viewed as a playoff game for the sake of the road ahead. The Milwaukee Admirals are making their last trip into the formidable Van Andel Arena for the 2016-17 regular season. They still see the Grand Rapids Griffins on the regular season finale at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Yet, this could well still be either an opening round or second round playoff match-up.

It is crucial to start making tight games like Sunday’s defeat become a victory. The lessons being offered up by way of experience is great. The ability to cement experience and spring-load off of what was learned is the next step. And that is what tonight’s game is going to showcase.

The Griffins are still the Central Division leaders with a record of 43-18-1-4 (91 points, 0.689 points percentage). With their 3-2 win over the Admirals on Sunday they became the first Central Division team this season to clinch a playoff spot. They have won their last three games and are 8-2-0-0 in their last ten games played on home ice.

Against the Admirals this season the Griffins have gone 6-4-0-0. The Admirals hold a 4-5-1-0 mark in the head-to-head. Specifically at the Van Andel Arena the Admirals hold a 2-3-0-0. They had won consecutively in Grand Rapids until running into a 6-2 wood chipper of a loss back on 2/25/17.

What is perhaps most intriguing to me about what the Griffins can do tonight is change-up their lineup now that they have clinched a playoff spot. They do have a good amount of wiggle room over the Chicago Wolves (0.647) for the top of the Central Division lead. That could mean seeing players such as Patrick McCarron or Givani Smith making their pro debuts either tonight or in the very near future.

On the Admirals end of things it appears that Adam Pardy will be making his return to game action tonight. The veteran defenseman has missed the last 29 games following a compound fracture of his left arm. He steps in where he left off alongside his defensive linemate Alex Carrier.

Also, based on yesterday, it would feel that Jimmy Oligny and Justin Kirkland are still on the comeback trail from injury. That opens the door for Stephen Perfetto and Tyler Kelleher to step into a high intensity game.

This game will mark the end of the Admirals’ March slate. They have gone 7-4-0-1 during the busy run towards April. Pontus Åberg has been spectacular to watch during this month and has produced 14 points (11 goals, 3 assists) from 12 games. The Swede has three multi-goal games during that span. If Åberg pulls of a repeat of his efforts on Sunday he will become the fourth ever Admiral to score 30 goals in an AHL season: Darren Haydar in 2005-06 (35 goals), Rich Peverley in 2006-07 (30 goals), and Chris Mueller in 2011-12 (32 goals).

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Now that fatigue isn’t a factor for either team what sort of game will develop: defensively grinding or a more open North-South speed game?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

I always greatly enjoy seeing my expectations so spectacularly blowing up in my face when it comes to what I sense will be a Milwaukee Admirals loss. Last Sunday, the Admirals were on the end of a three-in-three facing the Grand Rapids Griffins at the end of one of their own. I thought the Admirals would get hit hard or take a grinding but low scoring loss. Instead, the Admirals came out in the second period and blew the doors off the Griffins which was a decisive frame in what ended as a 6-3 win.

To think that could happen all over again today based on the circumstances is a little too dream-heavy. Yes, the Griffins are in on Sunday again and -Yes- the Griffins are on the end of yet another three-in-three weekend. But they are still the Griffins and, with last Sunday in mind, they will probably be looking for some redemption.

The Griffins have a record of 42-18-1-4 (89 points, 0.685 points percentage). Since the loss to the Admirals last Sunday the Griffins played on Friday and Saturday against the Rockford IceHogs. Friday’s game in Grand Rapids ended with a 5-3 win. Saturday’s game in Rockford ended with a 4-0 shutout victory.

Jared Coreau played the first leg of the three-in-three but it was Eddie Pasquale last night earning the impressive 37-save shutout for the Griffins. It’s always nice to have the options as to who is going to start the third game of an AHL three-in-three and that is the good problem the Griffins now have. Coreau or Pasquale?

Offensively, the Griffins already have a potent machine with several players contributing. Following last night’s game in Rockford they now have their sixth player on the season to reach the 40 points plateau. Eric Tangradi, who scored twice against the Admirals last Sunday, now has 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) in 51 games.

Speaking of that plateau, the Griffins could add a seventh member to the 40 points club today should Kyle Criscuolo have a multi-point night. The 24-year old has produced 38 points (17 goals, 21 assists) from 65 games in his first full-season as a pro.

Continuation of some of the chippiness from last weekend could be in the cards. The Griffins are known for doing plenty of talking but not a lot of fighting. They attempted to pick on the little guy but Anthony Richard ended up slugging out Matt Lorito in the process. The night pretty much ended with Trevor Murphy giving Martin Frk the business, as well. I’d expect some more scrapping to be done.

What are you anticipating for this afternoon’s game? Are we in for more of what happened last Sunday or will this Grand Rapids Griffins team be out for serious revenge? What will be the key to the Milwaukee Admirals earning the victory today?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

Moose: Scouting the Enemy

The fan in the Aaron Rodgers jersey is still perturbed as to what Ted Thompson is doing at this given moment. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

After a breather from last weekend’s three-in-three the Milwaukee Admirals are back to work. It might not be as hectic as Milwaukee to Iowa to Milwaukee in such a short space of time but the team is getting their travel going. The Admirals traveled to Manitoba on Wednesday morning and will be back for another scrap against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.

The focus begins with the Manitoba Moose tonight and tomorrow night at the MTS Centre. They have a record of 24-32-4-5 (57 points, 0.438 points percentage) which puts them narrowly above the Rockford IceHogs (0.431) in the basement of the Central Division.

In their last ten-games at home the Moose have gone 3-5-0-2 and also have the second worst home record (0.453) in the AHL. The only team worse on home ice are the Hartford Wolf Pack (0.344).

As bad as that can all sound it was a very tight contest between the Admirals and Moose the last time they played. The Admirals won 3-2 in overtime and the man with the game-winning goal, Mike Ribeiro, was highly complementary of the Moose after the game saying, “I feel like that team, Manitoba, was probably the best structured team that I played.”

He wasn’t wrong at all with that assessment, either. That was a very grinding game for the Admirals and it took some doing for them to earn the result.  As the Moose are finishing up what has been an eight-game homestand where they have gone 1-4-0-1 with that first win finally coming Saturday night in a 5-3 game over the IceHogs – I’d anticipate more of a grinding style game again.

The Moose have four players at or above 30 points this season. Their top two leading scorers are all first-year pros with the man set in third place in his first full-season of AHL work.

Jack Roslovic leads the Moose this season with 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists) from 56 games. He is followed by Kyle Connor who has 38 points (21 goals, 17 assists) in only 44 games played. Connor was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Week earlier this month. Dan DeSalvo has 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 55 games and is the leading scorer for the Moose in this head-to-head match up with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 2 games against the Admirals. Meanwhile, Chase De Leo has produced 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 58 games. He did score his first professional hat trick against the Admirals in Manitoba last season on 12/19/15.

In net there can be only one option and I would be shocked if anyone other than Eric Comrie plays (no disrespect Jamie Phillips). Comrie has played in 44 games this season for the Moose which is the third most appearances by a goaltender in the AHL. Only Linus Ullmark (50) and Jack Campbell (45) have made more appearances at this point in the 2016-17 season.

The 21-year old Comrie has a 15-23-4-2 record from those 44 appearances to go along with a 2.96 goals against average, 0.906 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. In his career against the Admirals Comrie has a 3-3-0-1 record from 7 starts with a 3.26 goals against average and 0.897 save percentage.

What are you anticipating out of these two road games for the Milwaukee Admirals? How key is it for the Admirals to sustain what was generating against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday against a lower standing team such as the Manitoba Moose?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

Griffins: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Sam Iannamico)

Normally, I would like to say that I am an eternal optimist. Tonight’s game is one I’ve looked at on the schedule for awhile and thought it just didn’t look great. The Milwaukee Admirals split the deck with the Iowa Wild in the first two legs of this three-in-three weekend. That meant having a lengthy bus ride back after a 4-1 loss in Iowa to come home where a dominant Griffins team awaits. By all accounts this feels like it sets up harshly for the Admirals. If they are able to flip last night’s script to defeat the Griffins tonight? It could be one of the best results of the season.

What will be a factor for both teams is they are both at the end of a three-in-three. The Admirals had the Wild for two games. The Griffins played twice against the Chicago Wolves, first-leg at home and second-leg on the road, and won both times in games that each required overtime. Fatigue will very much play a factor in how this game can go. And -if it stays tight- it will likely be a test to see who has anything left in the gas tank in the third period to make a difference.

The Griffins will arrive to Milwaukee with a record of 40-17-1-4 (85 points, 0.685 points percentage). They are in the lead of the Central Division and saw their gap to second place ever so slightly grow with the overtime wins against the Wolves (0.656). The Admirals right now rest nestled in third place (0.619) as they have for quite some time now.

As high powered as the Wolves offense might be it is actually the Griffins who are the most lethal attacking team in the division. They score 3.48 goals per game while only conceding 2.47 goals against per game. The Griffins are one of the most balanced and well structured teams in the AHL. And, against the Admirals this season, are 5-3-0-0 with a pair of wins from three contests in Milwaukee.

The leading scorer for the Griffins is Matt Lorito who has 52 points (19 goals, 33 assists). He is followed very closely by Ben Street who has 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) which includes last night’s game-winning goal in overtime against the Wolves.

Those two are clearly not standing alone. The Griffins have three other players with 40 points or more: Martin Frk, 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists)… Evgeny Svechnikov, 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists)… and Tomas Nosek 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists).

By comparison the Admirals have no players at the 50 point plateau and only three players at the 40 points or more threshold: Frédérick Gaudreau, 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists)… Pontus Åberg, 41 points (24 goals, 17 assists)… and Trevor Smith, 40 points (12 goals, 28 assists).

Vladislav Kamenev could join that group tonight. The Russian currently has 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists). It would take a bit of puck luck for it to be done tonight -but- Matt White is also close to reaching that mark, too. White has 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) right now.

In net the Griffins have a tandem of Jared Coreau and Eddie Pasquale. Coreau made his NHL debut this season and has made 14 appearances this season with the Detroit Red Wings. He participated in both contests against the Wolves on Friday and Saturday night to push his season total in the AHL up to a record of 14-7-0-2 from 23 appearances with a 2.29 goals against average, 0.922 save percentage, and 2 shutouts.

If the Griffins decide to go a different route and not see Coreau work all three games of the weekend set it would give the reigns to Pasquale. As nice as that might sound the veteran netminder has won all three starts he has made against the Admirals this season and has a spectacular 0.99 goals against average, 0.968 save percentage, and 2 shutouts in the process.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Is this Milwaukee Admirals team capable enough right now to compete with this Grand Rapids Griffins team? How important will the start to this game be for the Admirals?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.