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Milwaukee Musings: Streaking at the right time

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Six straight in the bank with the playoffs on the line.

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Admirals have now pieced together six wins in a row at the most crucial time of the season. But if you were planning on taking a sigh of relief, don’t. The bigger hill is still to climb: this week. Three home games against Chicago (92 - 1st place), Iowa (81 - 3rd place), and Rockford (76 - 7th place).

Milwaukee’s magic number is 10, with a 0.579 strength of schedule measure. The fourth-place Admirals have Texas (77 - 5 games remaining), Manitoba (79 - 5 games remaining) and Rockford (76 - 5 games remaining) hot on their tail.

Headlines & Standings

Central Division standings - 4/4
theAHL.com
  • Austin Watson was recalled to Nashville from his injury assignment after posting four goals in two games for Milwaukee. Miikka Salomäki was also recalled after three games for the Admirals.
  • On Tuesday, Nashville loaned forward Zac Rinaldo to Milwaukee on a similar long-term injury assignment. Rinaldo was previously expected to be out for the season.
  • Milwaukee could see the addition of one more player this season. Nashville has reportedly signed forward Lukas Craggs to an entry-level contract. It remains to be seen if he will finish the 2018-19 season on an ATO in Milwaukee.

Weekly Game Recap

March 27: Milwaukee Admirals @ Rockford IceHogs

Box Score - 3/27
theAHL.com

Rockford struck first before Anthony Richard and Justin Kirkland gave Milwaukee a well-earned lead well into the game. Rockford tied things up, but Austin Watson answered, scoring the game-winner and an empty-net goal to cap off the beginning of an excellent week.

March 30: Milwaukee Admirals @ Chicago Wolves

Box Score - 3/30
theAHL.com

This one was all Austin Watson and Eeli Tolvanen, as both went home with two goals, including the latter drilling home an incredible shot from a low-danger position.

March 31: Milwaukee Admirals @ Grand Rapids Griffins

Box Score - 3/31
theAHL.com

Grand Rapids and Milwaukee remained scoreless through the first, but Colin Blackwell and Miikka Salomäki added two in the final five minutes of the second period. Grand Rapids answered at the onset of the third, but Cole Schneider’s empty-net goal iced the victory for the Admirals later that period.

April 3: Milwaukee Admirals @ San Antonio Rampage

Box Score - 4/3
theAHL.com

San Antonio struck first at the start of the second period when Troy Grosenick was beat through the five-hole. But Milwaukee answered with two more before the end of the period from Colin Blackwell and Jarred Tinordi. Cole Schneider added an empty-net marker to seal the Admirals’ sixth straight win.

Trending Up

Anthony Richard: Although pointless in his last three outings, Richard preceded that with goals in three straight and a four-game point streak. After a mild offensive dip as the team stumbled their way through the middle of the season, Richard has set new career highs in goals with 22 and points with 44.

U23 AHL Forwards Scoring
eliteprospects.com

Richard sits 12th among under-23 forwards in the AHL in scoring this season and has shown a real adeptness for the game at that level. I’m not certain how much roster room in Nashville there is for him next season, but another year in Milwaukee could be a dominant one for the speedy forward.

Trending Down

Joe Pendenza: Rachel’s pick here; he’s been quiet lately and the numbers back that up. He’s pointless in his last three games and has six total points in 14 games since the trade deadline. Tyler Gaudet and Tanner Jeannot have both returned from injury, so ice time will be hard to come by for the pivot, who is still playing on a tryout contract.

Final Thoughts

Any of you regular readers know how many moments there were through the winter where this team was simply lifeless. These updates became so repetitive it was painful. But here they are, winning at the right time. I’m still not certain it will be enough. They’re right on the edge but Manitoba keeps winning, too. Iowa stumbling through their last ten certainly helps.

There is no doubt this squad was re-energized by the brief stays of Austin Watson and Miikka Salomäki; the former essentially won them two games. But there have been some other performers who have really moved the needle the past couple weeks.

Troy Grosenick continues to look sharp and that’s an absolute necessity. I’m not confident in this team with McCollum in net. Eeli Tolvanen has been firing shots like there’s no tomorrow and being rewarded as well. Laurent Dauphin continues to be an excellent complement to Colin Blackwell down the middle. And Jarred Tinordi, for all the knocks against his game, has found a way to be an impressive offensive contributor and leader for this Admirals team.

I have been a skeptic all year and part of me hopes this team proves me wrong. One thing Milwaukee can shift some more focus to is team discipline. They’ve got a good penalty kill and have been scoring well lately, but they haven’t completely proven they can outlast a team in an offensive shootout and they could tighten up on stick infractions and unnecessary penalties.

All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com and eliteprospects.com.