After a tough 5-1 loss to Chicago Saturday night, the Admirals don’t have to wait long for a rematch.
Milwaukee returns to the Windy City Tuesday night for a return engagement with the Wolves at Allstate Arena.
It will be sixth of ten meetings between the two geographic rivals, who share an unpleasant taste for one another.
“It’s one thing to be close to (Chicago)and to play them so many times, but we see each other so much that you kind of get sick of playing them,” Mark Van Guilder said.
Van Guilder points to the seven game series the two foes battled through last spring as a big factor.
“The other (thing) was playing them in the playoffs last year,” Van Guilder said. “Whenever you go through a seven game playoff series like we did with those guys, you definitely get up when you play them.”
The final aspect of the rivalry on the ice is the culture clash between organizations. Nashville runs the Admirals as its primary developmental organization, stock piling the team with top prospects that are generally younger players.
Meanwhile, Atlanta keeps the Wolves as less of a dependent club by stocking Chicago with numerous AHL/NHL veterans, players like Jason Krog and Darren Haydar, who can pile up the points in the AHL, but have a more limited value to the parent NHL club. The result is a style clash that plays out in intense ways on the ice.
“It’s always a good battle against two good teams that do things differently,” Van Guilder said.
When the puck drops Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center, Milwaukee will try to do something that they haven’t all season—beat Chicago.
In the three prior meetings with the Wolves, the Admirals have found three different ways to drop games. It started with a 3-2 loss in overtime at home on October 15, then a 3-2 shootout defeat the next night in Chicago, and finally falling 4-3 in a regulation decision on October 24 at Allstate Arena.
For Milwaukee coach Lane Lambert, the first step toward knocking off Chicago starts with better netminding.
“We have to get good goaltending,” Lambert said. “I feel like we should have won two out of the three games against the Wolves, but we didn’t get saves when we needed them.”
Lambert also believes that a consistent effort against Chicago will go a long way toward getting that first win against last year’s West Division champs.
“We have to string a full 60 minutes together against them,” Lambert said. “In the past we’ve had lulls and it hurt us on the scoreboard.”
Newly acquired Steve Begin, who played his first game with the Admirals against Chicago agrees with Lambert, but also believes Milwaukee needs to pay more attention to the little things.
“We made a lot of mistakes in that game,” Begin said. “But we can beat them if we skate for 60 minutes, have good communication on the ice and take care of the details.”
Brace yourself Admirals fans: Milwaukee’s schedule is about to take another nasty turn.
In the month of November the Admirals have just three measly home games and none past this Sunday’s game meeting with Chicago. Therefore this week’s matchups—games against Rockford on Wednesday, Peoria on Friday, and the team’s fourth meeting of season with the Wolves on Sunday—represent a vital stretch for Milwaukee to gain significant points in the AHL standings.
“We would really like to get the month off on the right foot considering we’re going on the road for the next ten games,” Admirals coach Lane Lambert said. “That’s the general objective for these next three games—for us to have a strong start.”
The other key to this week’s contests is that they are West Division games played against Milwaukee three closest geographic rivals. Currently, the Admirals sit in sixth place in the West, chasing both Chicago and Peoria. Milwaukee could move up the ladder by claiming four or more points on the week.
Obviously, the first days of November is far too early in the season to start worrying about Milwaukee’s playoff positioning. But a couple of big home wins this week would make life a lot less stressful on Lambert’s crew as the Admirals head south for the latter half of the month.
So, Roundtable: How many points do you think Milwaukee will get out of these next three games? Would anything less than four be considered a disappointment? Why?
Anytime a player with an NHL pedigree such as Steve Begin’s gets assigned to an AHL club, the league’s fans get excited. These players offer the hardcore hockey fan a name they can recognize and not a prospect they have to do their homework on.
But for the Admirals supporters who don’t know much about Steve Begin, let me shine a little light on the subject. At 32-years old Begin is no rookie. His best offensive days (10 goals in 2003-2004 and 11 in 2005-2006) are behind him, yet Begin proved effective in his checking role with the Boston last year. This was especially true during the playoffs when Begin took advantage of expanded ice time as the Bruins lost key players to injuries. During the off-season Begin likely would have resigned in Boston if the Bruins weren’t so strapped by salary cap issues.
Despite his limited offensive game, Begin remains an effective two-way forward and a menace to play against. The Quebec-native is a constant competitor on the ice, who skates with a work ethic that makes him easy to coach.
Therefore Begin seems a natural fit in blue-collar organization like Nashville, a team that prides itself in playing a gritty style. Begin’s time in Milwaukee will involve conditioning to get his NHL legs back under him after he missed all of training camp as an unsigned free agent.
However, if an opportunity on the Predators third or fourth line appears, expect Begin to be one of the first players General Manager David Poile inquires about.
(Author’s Note: Steve Begin played his first game with the Milwaukee Admirals Sunday at Chicago, picking up an assist, while centering the team’s starting line with Chris Mueller and Gabriel Bourque. He also took a controversial penalty late in third period that effectively ended Milwaukee’s comeback hopes. To hear coach Lane Lambert thoughts on the call, check out Andy Grebe’s game recap Blog, Wolves Fend Off Ads 4-3: http://admiralsroundtable.com/2010/10/24/wolves-fend-of-ads-4-3/)