Milwaukee split their two road dates with Manitoba this week in one contest full of nonstop scoring and the other with it hard to come by. The Admirals sit two points back of fourth-place Rockford—their target to make the playoffs—and both teams have played 54 games.
This weekend, Milwaukee heads to Cleveland for two away contests against the Monsters before heading down to Texas next week.
Headlines & Standings
- On Tuesday, goaltender Tom McCollum scored a two-way contract from the Predators for the remainder of the season with a $650K cap hit in the NHL and a $100K cap hit in the NHL.
- On Monday, goaltender Troy Grosenick left the game against Manitoba shortly into the first with a lower-body injury.
- Later that night, Milwaukee recalled goaltender Adam Carlson from the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL on loan. Carlson was up with Milwaukee earlier this season but has yet to play any minutes for the Admirals.
- Also earlier this week, Milwaukee signed forward Hugo Roy to a two-year, standard player contract AHL contract. Roy has 19 goals in 28 games for Concordia University this season after three full seasons for Sherbrooke in the QMJHL. Roy was noticed while the Admirals’ brass was scouting Mathieu Olivier last season and has been in contract talks for the past couple weeks.
Weekly Game Recap
February 17: Milwaukee Admirals @ Manitoba Moose
The Admirals jumped out to an early two-goal lead in a decently dominant first period. The Admirals and Moose traded chances in the second with a five-goal frame which saw Milwaukee lead by three going into the third.
After getting within one, Matt Donovan added an empty-net goal from his own circles before J.C. Lipon answered right back finishing off the 11-goal contest.
February 18: Milwaukee Admirals @ Manitoba Moose
This one was a lot less eventful with a back-and-forth first period. The Moose added two with a blistering start in the second, but Alexandre Carrier responded at the start of the third.
Milwaukee gave up an early empty-netter, and the Admirals answered, but it was too little, too late.
Adam Helewka: I think Helewka is a brilliant player and that his addition in the Emil Pettersson trade was very underrated. He’s shown it since coming to Wisconsin with three goals and seven points in five games.
Take the above play for example. Helewka does a full cycle around the net and through the slot, loses his man, and forces the defense to bunch up as they scramble to reset. He provides a simple pass that pulls the goalie out the crease and immediately finds a spot to open up his shooting stance if need be.
Helewka and Colin Blackwell have excelled together, giving us beautiful plays like the one above. Final note, I love how willing he is to open up as a shooter entering the zone like that; it’s not something we’ve seen often in Milwaukee this season.
Tom McCollum: McCollum earned a NHL contract from Nashville yesterday in a curious move. McCollum, after a decent start to the season, has been sub-par for Milwaukee, with an 0.895 save percentage and a habit of breaking down with the Admirals’ defense at critical moments in games.
This might seem like a curious player to pick for the ‘Trending Down’ section considering his massive reward, but, with Grosenick hurt, McCollum will be relied on to at least get this team off on the right foot for this playoff push. He’s still technically a decent positional goalie, but his reaction speed just isn’t entirely there anymore.
Notice on the goal allowed above, McCollum pivots out near the top of the crease when the puck is passed back across the slot but then recedes too quickly while inching his leg pads, shoulders, and glove lower and lower. This gives the shooter, with no defensive challenge, time to wait out McCollum and pick the corner easily.
This contract makes me wonder how long Grosenick could be out for, but it more so seems like giving a veteran for his dues when he likely won’t be back in the organization next season.
Not much to wrap up here due to the short week and another one upcoming, so I will give props to something the AHL does very well. If you haven’t checked out their daily playoff primer, it’s a fantastic resource. You can do so here.
The Admirals’ magic number sits at 50 points, which puts them more in sixth place in their division than it does fifth behind Rockford and Texas. This team has an uphill battle, but we all knew that.
Getting Frédéric Allard back from injury will be a massive help. As Rachel points out, he’s simply a more intelligent reactor to the unpredictable play of the AHL than nearly anyone on this roster. The defense, I think, will be okay as long as no further injuries occur. The forward group could use more time to mesh and has some game-breakers, but the trade deadline could change that.
It’s a waiting game for now. And, speaking of that, the Hugo Roy signing (which I’m very much a fan of) reminds me that this team could see up to three possible additions later in the season in Rem Pitlick, Jacob Paquette, and Pavel Koltygin—although the Niagara Ice Dogs and Drummondville Voltigeurs anticipate playing well into the spring, so we’ll see.