Over the weekend, the Milwaukee Admirals lost Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals in the Calder Cup Playoffs by a final score of 2-1 over the Coachella Valley Firebirds. Milwaukee is facing elimination entering Game 6 on Monday night, with puck drop scheduled for 9 p.m. CT. The Admirals are looking to force a decisive Game 7, and if they do force it, it is scheduled for Wednesday night.
The winner of this series will face the Eastern Conference Champions, the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup Finals. It has been quite some time since the Milwaukee Admirals made it to the Calder Cup Finals. The last time they won it all was back in 2003-2004 when they defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
It will be a tall order for the Admirals to win Game 6 and Game 7 on the road against the second-best team in the AHL during the regular season. Coachella Valley finished with a 48-17-5-2 record with 103 points during the regular season.
The Milwaukee Admirals had a 41-24-5-2 record with 89 points during the regular season. So how can Milwaukee force a Game 7 against this lethal hockey club?
The Milwaukee Admirals Must Rely on Their Goaltending
In Game 5, Devin Cooley got the start in place of Yaroslav Askarov. Cooley had 23 saves in the game and only gave up two goals.
Cooley has played in three games and has a 2-1 record with a .942 save percentage and a 1.68 GAA in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Askarov has played in 12 games this postseason for the Milwaukee Admirals and has a 6-6 record with a .903 save percentage and a 2.70 GAA, along with zero shutouts. He is one of the highly-rated prospects for the Nashville Predators.
Head coach Karl Taylor can’t go wrong with either choice between the pipes for Game 6.
Slow Down Coachella Valley’s Offense
This postseason, the Firebirds’ offense has been extraordinary. They have five of the six leading scorers in the Calder Cup Playoffs, and their top two are currently Kole Lind with 21 points (seven goals and 14 assists) and Max McCormick with 20 points (12 goals and eight assists). Even if the Milwaukee Admirals slow them down, they still have other scoring options. This is why goaltending will play a huge part in this series.
Score More Goals & Advance in the Calder Cup Playoffs
This postseason, the Admirals have been winning games by being defensive and great goaltending. They only have one scorer in the top five in the Calder Cup Playoffs, and that’s forward Luke Evangelista. He has scored four goals and has recorded 11 assists in 15 games. Evangelista has a plus/minus rating of -3.
Kiefer Sherwood scored the lone goal in Game 5 for the Milwaukee Admirals. One of the players that have to step up in Game 6 for this hockey club is defenseman Keaton Thompson and forward Joakim Kemell. If the Milwaukee Admirals can’t figure out goalie Joey Daccord, this series is probably over for them.