Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
30-33-1-4, 65 pts, 0.478
#7 Pacific Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
40-22-3-3, 86 pts, 0.632
#3 Central Division
April 1st at 6:00 PM
UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, Milwaukee, WI

Once again, I'm welcoming in Daniel Lavender from Admirals Roundtable to assist with today's preview. You should really follow him on Twitter.

HDH: So congrats on the playoffs, first of all. We're hoping to have a similar recovery here... next year. Anyways, what's this team's DNA right now?

DL: Well, we haven't been confirmed of any playoff berth just yet -but- with results tipping the right way it can get locked up this weekend with some wins and outside help. I'd say that when we first met back in December it was around the time the Admirals were slowly starting to succumb to the injury woes that the Nashville Predators were dealing with topside. That trickled into January and the resurgence of late has been building ever since February. The talk of the team has been having a "defense-first" mentality and to make life hard for opponents on home ice. It has been a grind getting everything together but the veteran leadership, youngsters, and new inclusions along the way have finally started to solidify into something really positive at a great time in the season when things need to start clicking.

HDH: I mean, Mike Ribeiro... how's that going? He's a former Dallas Star, so it's of particular interest over here.

DL: Boy, I had my concerns. His reputation kind of precedes him at this point - which is sad. Especially because my fears of him potentially joining the Milwaukee Admirals being a negative were instantly gone once I saw his face light up taking to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena for his first official practice with the team. He has been nothing but the pro, leader, and mentor that you would hope for him to be since joining. His work alongside the likes of Frédérick Gaudreau and Anthony Richard hasn't just been great now but those two are likely benefiting massively as they play and learn alongside someone of his talent level.

HDH: How has Derek Army been this season? He's a former Texas Star by a few games.

DL: Derek Army might be one of the best personalities that I've come across in my five-seasons around the Admirals. I don't think that guy ever has a bad day and could offer up at minimum four of the best places to get cookies where he is playing even if he did have a bad day. The guy works really hard on the ice and also gets into the dirty areas right at the net. It's helped him produce offensively from a fourth line PTO role. You never entirely know what you get when guys get that chance on loan out of the ECHL. You'd hope most treat it like an audition for bigger and better things. I feel as if Army has. I'd hope he sticks around this team past the 2016-17 season.

HDH: Is this team ready for the playoffs or are there still some gaps to fill in before that point?

DL: There are still a few sore spots. Certainly the last month or so has seen this team really start clamping down the "defense-first" mentality but they still take an awful lot of penalties. Once the playoffs start up, which teams at this stage of the season should be treating all games like they already have, penalties can't simply be handed out and to lean so firmly on penalty killing and goaltending. When the Admirals are at their best is typically keeping the game at five-on-five while rolling out all of their lines. If they can avoid the penalty box they have all the makings of a ream that could make a serious run. The then named Lake Erie Monsters weren't the greatest of teams on record when they entered the 2016 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. They were the hottest team. The Admirals are starting to get hot at the right time.

HDH: Do YOU think there's going to be bad blood? (based on the fact that Coach Laxdal said there would be bad blood in this game after Milwaukee beat Texas 9-1 in their last matchup)

DL: God, I hope not. Whether it be in baseball or hockey I've never understood unwritten rules. In any professional sport I also don't quite get idea of not running the score up. Just because one side gives up doesn't mean the game is over, does it? That 9-1 win for the Admirals last time in Texas was a perfect storm for a scoreline such as that to happen. The Admirals couldn't miss and the Stars couldn't seem to care less. I would be more mad at my own team than I would the opposition ripping off that many goals. If the Stars spent over three months annoyed at that game and did something stupid this weekend? It would be sad. These guys just need to focus on the games at hand. Nothing more.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, Dickinson, Honka, Smith, Dowling (call up)
Fyten (injury)

Admirals Web Resources:
Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
Team blog: In The Crease
Online media: Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

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