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Milwaukee Admirals Update (April 13)

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
The Milwaukee Admirals enter the 2010 AHL post-season as the No. 4 seed in the West Division and open the Playoffs at No. 1 seed Chicago. The series begins on Wednesday night (April 14) in Chicago.

For the third time in the last four seasons and the sixth time overall the Admirals will battle the Chicago Wolves in the post-season. All but one of these match-ups has occurred during the first round and, unfortunately for the Admirals, the Wolves have won five of the six meetings. The only time Milwaukee has beaten Chicago in a playoff series was back in the 2004 West Division Finals when the Ads topped the Wolves four games to two. Most recently, the two teams squared off in the postseason back in 2008 when Chicago got by the Admirals 4-2 as well.

In franchise playoff history the Admirals have won a series as the road team just two times and as the fourth seed the Ads face that challenge with Chicago this round. While those are seemingly daunting numbers to overcome, this year that might not be such as bad thing, as the Admirals finished the season with more wins on the road than at home. Milwaukee ended the campaign with a 21-15-1-3 record on the road, while at home they are 20-15-1-4. Success on the road is nothing new for the Ads, however, as the team has had 20 or more wins away from the Bradley Center for seven consecutive seasons.

LEADER OF THE PACK…For the second consecutive season the Admirals were led in scoring by Mike Santorelli, who finished the season averaging more than a point per game with 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points in just 57 games due to recall to the NHL. The slick-skating center led, or tied for, the team in points, goals, powerplay goals (6), and multi-goal games (5). Santorelli was at his best late in the season, posting an eight game scoring streak (4g-8a) from March 21 though April 6 and finishing the year with at least a point in 14 out of his last 17 games (7g-13a).

ON THE BOARD EARLY…Scoring first was one of the keys to the Admirals success in the regular season, and it will also be very important for the team in the post-season. This year when the Ads scored the first goal of the game they registered a 30-6-1-4 record, compared with just an 11-24-1-3 mark when they allowed the first goal. That seems to jive with Admirals playoff history. Since joining the AHL, Milwaukee is an impressive 34-4 in the post-season when they score first.

PARENTAL SUCCESS…One advantage that the Wolves seem to have over the Admirals has less to do with the respective teams and more to do with the success of their parent club. The Admirals NHL affiliate, the Nashville Predators, qualified for the playoffs and will take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, while the Wolves parent club, the Atlanta Thrashers, missed out on the post-season and is done for the year. The affect this has is that players who are on the Admirals playoff roster who are on recall (Cody Franson, Colin Wilson and Nick Spaling) will all stay with the big club until they are eliminated, while the Thrashers reassigned players such as Chris Chelios, Artus Kulda, and Tim Stapelton when their season concluded on Sunday.

CLOSE CONTESTS…A hallmark trait of the post-season are close games and both the Admirals and Wolves had plenty of experience and good success in such occasions this season. Milwaukee finished the year with an 18-12-2-7 record in one-goal games and a 9-7 mark when a game was decided by two goals. Meanwhile the Wolves pulled off a 19-10-1-6 record in one-goal affairs and an 11-6 mark in two-goal games. When the two teams faced-off against each other seven of the ten games were decided by just one or two goals.

TOUGH LOSS…The Admirals suffered a difficult loss last Friday night when forward Hugh Jessiman was lost for the season with a shoulder injury that will require surgery. Jessiman was in the midst of his best professional season and finished the year third on the team with 42 points on 20 goals and 22 assists to go along with a +9 rating and 111 penalty minutes. The New York native either equaled or established new career highs in games played (78), goals (20), and points (42).

PLAYING SHORTHANDED…One thing the Admirals will certainly need to fine tune for the playoffs is their penalty kill. Milwaukee finished the year killing off 80.5% of their shorthanded opportunities, which was just 23rd in the league. Facing a talented offensive team like the Wolves, who scored the second most goals in the conference, will undoubtedly tax the Milwaukee penalty killing unit. However, an easy way to avoid giving up power-play goals is by staying out of the penalty box.

OFFENSIVE DEFENSEMEN…Two out of the Admirals top four scorers this past season came from the blueline. Robert Dietrich finished the season second on the team with 43 points, including a team-high 37 assists, while rookie Jonathon Blum was fourth on the squad with 41 points on 11 goals and 30 assists. The duo were particularly effective for Milwaukee on the power-play combining for 46 points (8g-38a) on the man advantage which was over 25% of the teams power-play points.

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