Drop the Puck!
Posted By: Aaron Sims
Well, the playoffs begin tonight for the Milwaukee Admirals and the Texas Stars. The Admirals earned the top seed after a 102 point season. Texas is the fourth seed but has several players back from last year’s team that finished its season in the Calder Cup Finals against the eventual champion Hershey Bears.
How will this series be won?
Almost to a man, on each side, the answer is special teams. Both teams focus on the defensive game. Only 19 goals were scored COMBINED in the six games between these teams. Each game, except for the first meeting (which was 2-0), was decided by one goal. A power play tally could be the one goal that makes the difference.
This will be a fun series. Neither team takes many stupid penalties. The flow of the game should be fantastic.
The coaching staffs are fantastic. Just look at the records compiled by Lane Lambert and Glen Gulutzan as evidence of that statement.
Both goalies are playing their first full seasons in the AHL and second professionally. While Richard Bachman has had to carry the load all season for Texas due to the injury to Brent Krahn, Jeremy Smith has been spotted here and there as Mark Dekanich’s backup. Now, with Dekanich injured, it’s Smith’s turn to shine. Jeremy was co-MVP of the Kelly Cup last season as he helped Cincinnati win the ECHL title. Like Bachman, Smith has had great success as a pro.
The big question is the number of injuries Milwaukee is dealing with. Dekanich, Aaron Johnson, Steve Begin, Kelsey Wilson, Dylan Hunter and Linus Klasen have all missed the last several games. Six players that joined the team in the last two weeks have had to play significant minutes. Meanwhile, at least a dozen members of the Stars were part of the team that made it to the Calder Cup finals.
I am excited as to how quickly the new guys have acquitted themselves to the Admirals system. I think a ton of credit needs to be split among the coaches, the leadership group of players and the new guys for being coachable.
I’m not going to make a prediction. I am going to say that this series may be the best first-round series in the AHL this season.