Monsters Start Weekend Against Admirals

Two teams with playoff hopes on the line will meet at Quicken Loans Arena tonight when the Lake Erie Monsters (32-25-2-4) welcome in the Milwaukee Admirals (30-26-2-2). The Monsters enter Friday with the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and sit as one of four teams with a total of 70 points in the standings. Milwaukee is currently in the 11th spot with 64 points, but the Admirals have three crucial games-in-hand on the Monsters. When the regular season comes to a close, there may only be room for one of these two teams in the playoff picture, so a playoff-type atmosphere can certainly be expected at The Q when the puck drops at 7:30 PM.

The Monsters are on the verge of tying a franchise-best streak if they’re able to extend their current run of seven games unbeaten-in-regulation; a time in which the Monsters are 5-0-0-2, and have played into overtime six times. Twice in team history the Monsters have been unbeaten-in-regulation over eight games, with the most recent such stretch coming between March 11, 2011 and March 26, 2011. Milwaukee, on the other hand, has lost three straight, and is just 4-5-0-1 over their last 10 games. Keep in mind that the Admirals in the second half have not quite met the standard set by their early-season selves: they’re a team that started in a completely opposite fashion than the Monsters, as Milwaukee rattled off a 5-0-0-1 record over their first six games of the season.

The Monsters are going to continue to rely on their goaltending one-two punch of Cedrick Desjardins and Gerald Coleman. Desjardins has stopped 88 of his last 92 shots against, and is 3-0-1 over his last four starts. Coleman is 2-0-1 in his last three starts. Brad Malone and Greg Mauldin figure to continue playing key roles up front. Malone has the game-winning tally in each of the Monsters last two games, including the overtime winner Saturday night in Oklahoma City. Mauldin’s last two goals scored have been of the shorthanded variety, and have been huge momentum boosters. Whether he’s scoring or taking care of his own end, Mauldin’s speed is always a factor.

Chris Mueller has been the catalyst all season for Milwaukee on offense. He’s not flashy, but leads the Admirals with 45 points in 57 games, and has two goals and three assists over his current four-game point streak. Victor Bartley is one of the better offensive-minded defensemen in the Western Conference, and has two goals and four assists in a current five-game point streak.

All of this evening’s action from Quicken Loans Arena is part of the Monsters St. Patrick’s Day Weekend festivities, which conclude with tomorrow night’s 7:30 PM meeting at The Q with the Chicago Wolves. Tonight’s game can be heard live on AM 1220 WHKW, and seen live in its entirety on FOX Sports Ohio.

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