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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ads advance to face Aeros

It wasn’t a beautiful win, but a win is a win and any Milwaukee Admirals fan must be relieved that history did not repeat. It was almost a year ago when an Admirals team lost to the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, after blowing a 3-0 series lead. Not only a long lead blown, but against a lower ranked opponent.

Not today. Iowa, called the younger team, the team with legs, came into the bench looking tired. They didn’t protect their goalie, and let the point go. Oh boy, there is just so much to criticize of a team that just wasn’t hungry to win, and may have lost the best chance they had today.

In short the game was Boring.

The Admirals on the other hand did what they had to, good d, took advantage of scoring chances and actually played as a team. They may have lost their goalie this weekend, but maybe help is on the way as the NHL team affiliate seems to be headed for the golf course. That could lead to the Nashville Predators sending Pekka Rinne back to the Admirals. Now, as we’ve sorted out within the last week, sending a player to the AHL from the NHL isn’t an immediate help. The infusion of Blues talent did not take the Rivermen to the next level of play. It takes a few days for the player to get back into the grind with the team.

But, as I write this piece, it appears Rinne will be headed back to Milwaukee. The other challenge for Milwaukee is that they’ve only developed one line. There isn’t really a second scoring line. That line, Darren Haydar, Simon Gamache and Greg Classen, are going to have to carry this team forward. I’ve already written about the NHL bug up Mr. Gamache’s rearend.

Haydar is a great player and a treasure. Will he be able to turn Gamache into a team player for these playoffs? Can he carry the load of team leader and overcome the Aeros?

Houston enters perhaps too rested from their sweep of the Rivermen. However, they have probably the best rookie in the AHL, Patrick O’Sullivan, plus a bench full of leading scorers. Their goalies aren’t as good as Rinne, but Houston has depended on offense to keep opponents unbalanced all season. Overall, the slight advantage Milwaukee has enjoyed all season is overshadowed by their problems in goal. Houston should win if they come out of the gate strong and take one or two of the first games in Milwaukee. As the series goes on, the balance will tip back to Milwaukee. Aeros to win in five.

The other series I can comment on is Grand Rapids v. Manitoba. Man, I love the Moose, but Grand Rapids is firing on all eight cyclinders. It is just tough to see any team take them till they meet their final Calder Cup opponents. The Moose are beaten up from the series in Syracuse. The Grifs are together. Grifs to win in five.

I’ll try predicting again for the East, (where is that crystal ball?) in the next day or two. But, really exciting hockey coming up in Hershey and Wilkes-Barre, while the Pirates blow away the Wolfpack.

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