The Milwaukee Admirals have defied all odds and climbed their way from 7th in the Central division all the way up to 2nd place to finish the regular season. After clinching their playoff berth last Saturday and then winning on Sunday against the Rockford IceHogs, the Admirals have been paired up to face the Iowa Wild in round one of the Calder Cup Playoffs. The first game will take place this upcoming Sunday at 4pm. What should you expect?
Admirals vs. Wild Through the Season
The Admirals struggled with the Iowa Wild, especially early in the season. The Admirals posted a 2-4 regular season record against Iowa. The two lone wins came at home for the Admirals, which means they’ve lost every single game played at the Wells Fargo Arena in Iowa. The last time these two teams met, the Admirals won 5-1. So at least the trend is ticking upward for the Admirals
A Different Team
The Admirals’ roster fluctuated a lot throughout the season. Between call ups and sporadic injuries, it has been awhile since their roster has been steady. However with the return of Frederic Allard, the Admirals seem to be healthy once again.
With that being said, the Iowa Wild are a very different team than we saw at the end of March. Since the Minnesota Wild didn’t make the playoffs, they reassigned three of their two-way players to Iowa. Ryan Donato, who had 16 total points for Minnesota after being acquired at the trade deadline, has joined Iowa; as has Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin. That’s an entire line’s worth of NHL level forwards for the Admirals to combat against.
The Wild’s captain, former Admiral and Predator Cal O’Reilly, also had a nice season with Iowa. He averaged one point per game in his 67 appearances this season.
Iowa ended their season on a three game winning streak. Needless to say, the Admirals have their work cut out for them.
Keys to a Milwaukee series win
Goaltending: Milwaukee, much like Nashville, requires stellar goaltending in order to win. Troy Grosenick was ranked 5th in the AHL in terms of GAA (2.41) and has a .919 SAV%. Grosenick left the game last Saturday early with an apparent groin injury. It hasn’t been said whether he or Tom McCollum will appear in game one.
Powerplay production: If you’ve been following our recaps for the Admirals this season, you know the Admirals struggled with powerplay production during the first half of the season and especially in February. However, the Admirals have been finding ways to score on the powerplay over the last month. These goals have been crucial to the Admirals 14 game point streak.
Penalty kill: The Admirals are about to take on the 2nd ranked powerplay unit in the AHL. Iowa finished the regular season with 23.8% on the powerplay. Luckily for Milwaukee, they have the top ranked PK unit in the Central division and the third best in the entire AHL. A lot of this is thanks to the stellar goaltending previously mentioned. Milwaukee will need to continue this trend in order to win.
Forgetting the past
The Admirals have a troubling recent history when it comes to the Calder Cup playoffs. The Admirals have been swept in the first round in four out of the last six playoff appearances for the team. The last time they won a playoff game was in 2013. Even worse, the last time they won a playoff series is in 2011. The Admirals did not qualify for the playoffs in 2014-15 or 2017-18. The Admirals would be well served to leave any thought of the past at the door.
The Admirals are entering in the playoffs on a 14 game point streak and are a strong and consistent team. Their leadership over the last month has stepped up and team captain Jarred Tinordi has seemed confident in recent interviews. Head coach Karl Taylor has also had great things to say. He told Aaron Sims in a recent interview that there would be minimal changes to the way the team has been playing and they want to make the Iowa Wild “come to us.”
The Admirals faceoff against the Iowa Wild in game one in Iowa at 4pm this upcoming Sunday.