Moose: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

Uniform colors so identical that the Charlotte Checkers can’t tell the difference between which team is which. At least that was the case on their YouTube account for game highlights until I intervened. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals current record is 13-5-1-0 (27 points). They have the same amount of points and an equal points percentage (0.711) as fellow Central Division opponents the Lake Erie Monsters but are one-game better in the regulation wins department.That doesn’t just put the Admirals in the lead of the Central Division but the entire Western Conference. They sit third in the entire league behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (0.889) and Toronto Marlies (0.738).

As for the Manitoba Moose, they’re trending more on the lower end of the AHL spectrum as far as their record, points, points percentage, and league standing are concerned. The Moose have a 4-11-1-1 (10 points) with a 0.294 points percentage. They’re second from the bottom in the Central Division, Western Conference, and AHL all thanks to the Iowa Wild and their dreadful 0.217 points percentage.

So why are the Moose struggling so much? Why could they be heading into Milwaukee with a 3-7-0-0 record in their last ten-games? Simple. They can’t score goals.

The Moose have the lowest scoring offense in the AHL this season and the second lowest scoring team next to them is still 11 goals better off. It’s staggering. The Moose have scored a league low 29 goals from 17 games. They have been shutout in three-games this season and have yet to score more than three-goals in a game this season.

Sadly, one of those games in which they scored three-goals in a game came the first time that they played against –and beat– the Admirals. The lackluster Moose were able to get out to a two-goal lead inside of seven-minutes of the first period. The Admirals battled back to knot things up by the first intermission but the Moose hammered 20 shots on goal and picked up the game-winner in the second period while surviving an 18-4 shot disparity in the third period. It was the Moose’s first win of the season. They had lost the previous six-games straight prior to that.

The Moose currently have three players with double digit points: J.C. Lipon, 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists)… Brenden Kichton, 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists)… Chase De Leo, 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists)…

In net the Moose are heavily leaning on Eric Comrie while Connor Hellebuyck currently plays topside with the Winnipeg Jets. Sure, the record (wins and losses) isn’t going to look good in net for a team that isn’t scoring goals but credit where credit is due the goaltenders have been battling hard for the Moose. Comrie has a 2.43 goals against average and 0.927 save percentage. Those numbers are nearly identical to Hellebuyck’s this season and both have a pair of wins between them.

What are your expectations for tonight’s game? Could the Admirals fall to the Moose again? Who needs to step up offensively while so many bodies are up in Nashville?

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Admirals Sign Vinny Saponari to PTO Contract


TOE DRAG CITY IS BACK. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

According to the ECHL Transactions Wire the Milwaukee Admirals have signed Vinny Saponari to a PTO contract on loan from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL. Saponari played with the Admirals during the 2013-14 season.

Saponari  played college hockey with Boston University before ending up with Northeastern University. After his collegiate career came to an end he signed on to an ATO contract with the St. John’s IceCaps who are now known as the Manitoba Moose. The next season he played for the Cincinnati Cyclones and worked his way up to the AHL level with the Admirals. In the 2013-14 season in Milwaukee Saponari amassed 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) in 58 games. He spent last season under the Hartford Wolf Pack banner but mainly spent the bulk of his season in the ECHL with the Greenville Road Warriors. He would stay there for this season and went through the PTO contract sequence twice already: with the Portland Pirates and  then with the Lake Erie Monsters not more than two-weeks ago.

What’s interesting about the current predicament for the Admirals is that they literally have to sign players from the ECHL to PTO deals at the given moment if so much as one forward is banged up. Austin WatsonMiikka SalomäkiColton Sissons, and Viktor Arvidsson are all in Nashville with the Predators. Meanwhile in Cincinnati injuries are a plenty with Jaynen Rissling currently dinged up and Eric Robinson quite possibly out for the season due to a knee injury.

Why was Saponari signed? It might mean that a forward took a knock in practice or played through an injury on the weekend that is forcing them out of the lineup for Tuesday night. Stevie Moses is a speculation target for such a case considering he is freshly removed from a three-game absence due to an upper-body injury. Perhaps it flared up on him? I’ll find out more ahead of tonight’s game to get to the bottom of this move but that would be my only guess.

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Garrett Noonan Reassigned to Cincinnati

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

Garrett Noonan didn’t particularly do anything wrong in his recent stint with the Milwaukee Admirals. This is simply a matter of numbers at defense working against him that will see him return to ECHL hockey with the Cincinnati Cyclones. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

The roster moves keep on coming. This one was basically expected once Victor Bartley cleared waivers and was assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals from the Nashville Predators. Garrett Noonan has been assigned on loan to the Cincinnati Cyclones from the Admirals.

This means Brandon Whitney will have a travel buddy with him as he was also assigned to the Admirals’ ECHL affiliate early this afternoon following the Predators reassigning Juuse Saros to the Admirals. Busy day, eh?

Noonan logged 5 games in his recent stint with the Admirals following the lower-body injury to Johan Alm. During that small span Noonan didn’t register a point of offense, had a plus/minus rating of +1, and his only dash of penalty minutes came from an interference minor in the Admirals most recent game. I would say that Noonan was non-existent on the ice. While that might be misinterpreted as a negative I say that as a plus because when you’re playing sound defense I think that you can fly under the radar for doing such. It’s not like he was making any sort of glaring mistakes.

Fun piece of trivia that I came along while looking back over all of Bartley’s work with the Admirals. How many power-play goals did Bartley score in his two-year tenure with the Admirals? 10 power-play goals. He also scored a power-play goal in his last regular season game with the Admirals. I believe the man-advantage just got a bit stronger today.

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Juuse Saros Reassigned to Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

“What’s that? Juuse I’m heading back to Milwaukee? OK.” (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Right on the footsteps of the Victor Bartley clearing waivers news this morning comes the news that he won’t be traveling to Milwaukee alone. The Nashville Predators have reassigned goaltender Juuse Saros to the Milwaukee Admirals while Brandon Whitney goes back to the Cincinnati Cyclones on loan assignment from the Admirals.

Saros made his NHL debut starting in net for the Predators in front of the home town crowd in Nashville. Sadly for him, his personal seven-game winning streak took a dent right around when Viktor Arvidsson was slapped with a crosschecking major and a game misconduct. The Buffalo Sabres would score twice on the power-play from that major penalty and that would be all that they needed. Saros stopped 20/23 shots on goal in the game.

I would imagine the fact that Whitney is en route to Cincinnati says that Carter Hutton is fully fit and there is no quick swap to bring Marek Mazanec up in Saros’ place. In the end, this quick cup of coffee in the NHL is a real nice way to give the young Finn a glimpse of things to come and to see what he’s working towards. You always hear ATO type signings that join the Admirals towards the end of a season say at the start of next season how beneficial that brief welcoming period is. It might have only been one-day and one-game but I believe that it still takes a big weight off Saros’ mind when the time comes for him to go up next time around. It was great for him to make his NHL debut. It wasn’t the result he’d probably have wanted but the experience sets him up nicely in the future.

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Victor Bartley Clears Waivers; Assigned to Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Victor Bartley last played for the Milwaukee Admirals in the 2012-13 season. He was the Admirals representative at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Yesterday’s news within the organization was that the Nashville Predators finally attempted to reduce their numbers on defense where they have had two extra healthy defensemen sitting out of the lineup the majority of this season. For either Victor Bartley or Anthony Bitetto to reach the Milwaukee Admirals they would have needed to clear the waiver wire process to do so. Surprisingly the man put through this process yesterday was Bartley. Just as surprisingly he has cleared and will be joining the Admirals ahead of tomorrow night’s game against the Manitoba Moose.

Bartley played with the Admirals for 130 games over the course of two-seasons while producing 65 points (16 goals, 49 assists).  He last played with the Admirals during the 2012-13 season and suited up in the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic as the Admirals representative. He spent a solid chunk of that season in Nashville before staying up there until now. He has 112 games of NHL experience, all coming with the Predators, and tallied 23 points (1 goal, 22 assists).

This season the Predators defense has remained quite healthy which has made having not just an extra defenseman but two additional blueliners a bit tough to work. The Predators sent Bitetto down on a conditioning assignment earlier this season and I was assuming a similar task would be handed off to Bartley before the Predators attempted putting one through waivers in an attempt to move them down to the Admirals. When the Predators picked up Petter Granberg from the Toronto Maple Leafs on waivers they effectively went up to three extra defensemen. Granberg is still on injured reserve but it’s clear that something was going to have to give. It did, and the net result ends up being a sigh of relief because Bartley is through waivers and still within the organization.

Beyond the sheer fact that this strengthens the Admirals blueline by adding a skilled two-way defenseman such as Bartley it also serves a great help to the player himself. Bartley was almost in purgatory this season as he only played a single game of the Predators 23 games played. Rather than look at this as a setback for Bartley you could just as well see this time used back in the AHL as a potential launch pad back to another NHL opportunity either with the Predators or elsewhere when his contract ends by season’s end. When Bartley returns to the Admirals locker room he will be the oldest defenseman on the roster at the age of 27-years old and the second oldest on the team next to Cody Bass. He can do plenty to make an already good looking Admirals team that much better.

Reaction to Bartley’s return to the Milwaukee Admirals? Would it be safe to assume Garrett Noonan returns to the Cincinnati Cyclones or do you think Kristian Näkyvä could benefit from some quick ECHL playing time?

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Admiral of the Month: November

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

I believe that one of the hardest things to do in life would be standing in front of and attempting to block a Viktor Arvidsson slap shot. This kid has a howitzer. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

It’s that time again to announce Admirals Roundtable’s Admiral of the Month Award. Sure, the calendar might read November today but the Milwaukee Admirals have already burned through their twelve game set for the month. When they play tomorrow night at home we’ll be entering December and the whopping fourteen game total that the month will provide.

This month was nothing short of spectacular for the Milwaukee Admirals. They went 11-1-0-0 while setting a franchise record for the longest winning streak (ten-games) and most wins ever recorded in franchise history in the month of November. Needless to say there are a number of great individual performances that made the team rocket through the month as well as it did. And yet I find myself coming back to one player that stands out on his own. The Admiral of the Month for November was Viktor Arvidsson.

Arvidsson’s season started at the NHL level with the Nashville Predators. He scored his first career goal on opening night in front of the home crowd in Nashville. That goal wouldn’t prove to just be a nice moment for him either as it ended up being the game-winning goal for the Predators to beat the Carolina Hurricanes.

He would return to the Milwaukee Admirals at the tail end of October. From that moment until the game before his most recent recall to the Predators he scored a point in every game. Arvidsson’s thirteen-game points streak is the longest streak in the AHL this season and is so by a solid three-games over both Pat Cannone of the Chicago Wolves and William Nylander of the Toronto Marlies. When all was said and done in the month of November Arvidsson had produced 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in eleven-games. Despite missing the Admirals opening four-games of the season Arvidsson is the current team leader in points and is so by a good margin. The next closest to the Swede on the Admirals team scoring list is Frédérick Gaudreau with 12 points (4 goals, 7 assists).

Speaking of Gaudreau, he is one of many players who I think is well worthy of an Admirable Mention for the month of November. Gaudreau played fantastically well operating at both wing and center while tasked with many top responsibilities that were being bestowed upon Colton Sissons when he was with the Admirals. Gaudreau provided 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists), 2 power-play goals, 2 game-winning goals, and was just an out-and-out incredible performer regardless of the offensive output.

It would of course be wrong to not tip the cap to both Admirals goaltenders this month because they were immensely important in the team having the amount of success the team enjoyed. Juuse Saros won every single one of his seven-starts in November while posting a 2.00 goals against average, 0.932 save percentage, and earned his first career pro shutout in North America to kick off the month. When he returns from Nashville the Finn will still be on a seven-game winning streak in net. Marek Mazanec was also terrific this month despite the lone blip on the radar impacting his statistical numbers the hardest. If you remove that one game where the Admirals lost 6-0 to the Grand Rapids Griffins you would find that Maz was even more brilliant that his counter part: 1.19 goals against average and a 0.961 save percentage in his four-wins. So, when Nashville folk wag their finger saying Saros has been the better goalie – do take that with a grain of salt. Both goaltenders were unbelievable in November.

Other Admirable Mentions for the month of November: the entire line combination of Jamie Devane, Félix Girard, and the extra winger of choice (Max Görtz, Eric Robinson, Joe Pendenza) was solid all month… Max Reinhart, 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists)… Taylor Aronson, 8 points (1 goal, 7 assists)… Pontus Åberg, 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists)… Trevor Murphy, 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists)… Vladislav Kamenev, 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists)… and the defensive pairing of Conor Allen on the left with Jimmy Oligny on the right.

~Admiral of the Month Award~

October: Félix Girard
November: Viktor Arvidsson

Who do you feel was the Milwaukee Admirals top performer during the month of November? Was it Arvidsson, Saros, Gaudreau, or someone else?

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Chatterbox, Vol. 96

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Stormtrooper Admirals were able to eliminate the Rebel IceHog scum last night. Mainly from staying this compact defensively around Marek Mazanec. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

How long did it take to put the Admirals 6-0 thrashing at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins in the past? Thanks to last night’s 2-1 win against the Rockford IceHogs the correct answer to that question is 24-hours.

I want to focus on one individual that I think sums up this quick turnaround from Friday to Saturday night’s games. That man to me is Marek Mazanec. Think about what was going on in his head along the way. You go from the high of a franchise record ten-game winning streak – to a game where you were in net getting decimated – after the game you find out that your teammate is going up to the NHL instead of you – and your response to it is to be a rock for your teammates in net.

If Mazanec were to enter tonight’s game as the started only just to lay an egg I think I’d be willing to understand. Friday night’s game was rough. I’m not sure if there were many goals he allowed in the game that you could say were all his fault but rarely does a goaltender let six-goals get past him. He ends up being on the bad end of all the good that took place with the winning-streak. Smashed a few goaltending sticks by night’s end out on the ice. And then he sees what he might have felt was his role this season, the first choice goaltender in Milwaukee to be brought up in the event of an injury to either Pekka Rinne or Carter Hutton, vanish and go to Juuse Saros directly following a game when he allowed six-goals.

He could have been mentally or emotionally in bits. His focus on the IceHogs could have been non-existent with his head frozen in Friday night. That was one of two routes that Mazanec could have gone. I think the result speaks for itself but, allow me to drive the point home, he bailed the Admirals out numerous times in last night’s first period alone to give them a chance at winning that game.

When reflecting back on last night’s first period the only real saving grace was Vladislav Kamenev‘s breakaway goal. When you push that to the side and see what was left of the first period you see IceHogs domination with Mazanec stopping 14/15 shots as the Admirals offense puts only 4 shots on goal the entire period. The Kamanev goal was great. But, almost with or without it, the feeling of what happened last night was strongly creeping into the game. The difference between the Admirals going into the first intermission tied at 1-1 and not down by a goal or multiple goals was Mazanec. From the first intermission forward the Admirals confidence grew and they started looking more like themselves again. That doesn’t happen unless Mazanec gets them through the first period.

It’s also been pleasant seeing the Admirals penalty kill starting to really click no matter who is tasked with getting out to perform on it. It looked so disjointed those first few games. By the numbers… the Admirals penalty kill went 23/32 (71.9%) in the month of October over the course of seven-games… the Admirals penalty kill went 40/48 (83.3%) in the month of November over the course of twelve games.

All in all, good stuff and it doesn’t end there. For really the first time this season there were interview bombs taking place during tonight’s post-game interviews. You’ll get none during Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason‘s presser but the players were all buzzing around as they once again gave back to the fans by meeting them and signing autographs on their Stormtrooper jerseys that were put up for auction this past Friday and Saturday. In order: you’ll hear Jimmy Oligny (with Félix Girard butting in), Pontus Åberg, and Joe Pendenza (with Mazanec’s non-stop commentary in the background). Kick back and listen in to last night’s post-game interviews.

Comments on the comments? Do you feel like Mazanec and Saros might potentially get swapped soon by the Nashville Predators or do you think they are content to keep Saros up until Hutton returns? What did you think of Pendenza’s return to the Admirals lineup? Were you impressed to see the Admirals play that well with so many key names out of the squad?

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Admirals Penalty Kill Survives Rockford; win 2-1

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Simply put, Marek Mazanec was terrific tonight. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals won 2-1 against the Rockford IceHogs Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The game rest almost firmly on the shoulders of Marek Mazanec and the Admirals penalty kill that went a successful 6/6 on the night.

“[Marek Mazanec] was our best penalty killer,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We’ve talked about this so many times, all coaches do, your best penalty killer is your goaltender when he’s on. Our penalty kill the guys did a lot of right things for sure.”

A puck scramble in neutral ice set up the Admirals for the opening goal in the first period. Stevie Moses was carving through traffic and the puck kicked back to Pontus Åberg who then had both of his linemates past the IceHogs defense for a breakaway opportunity. Åberg saucered ahead on a forehand pass to Vladislav Kamenev down the right wing and the Russian did the rest. He waved the magic wand over the puck before a quick forehand backhand move polished off his fifth goal of the season.

The majority of the first period was a shooting gallery for the IceHogs. At 13:29 of the opening frame they finally put a puck past Marek Mazanec. Following a faceoff win, the towering Viktor Svedberg shot from the point and received a redirect in front of the goal mouth by Dennis Rasmussen. The quick deflection alluded Mazanec and the goal for Rasmussen was his sixth of the season.

He might not have been a teammates of his while he played in Rockford but chalk up yet another fight by Cody Bass against his old team. He paired up with Chris DeSousa and won thoroughly. Bass removed the bucket off DeSousa, gave him the noogies, and kept on delivering until the officials stepped in to call it. Score that round 10-9 for Bass in your fight card.

It wouldn’t be until the third period when the fireworks returned in the goal column. Åberg squirmed into the attacking zone skating center to left, whipped a shot off of Jake Dowell that left him down in pain on the ice, recovered his rebound, and snapped a second shot from the left wing circle off the post and in past Mark Visentin’s blocker side. The goal was Åberg’s fifth of the season.

“I think I hit [Jake Dowell] his knee,” said Pontus Åberg. “He was sitting down on two knees so I think I got him pretty good. I don’t even know where I shot it at first because he was sitting down already. Glad to see it went through him so I could take another shot and it was a great feeling to see it go in.”

It was a hats off performance in net tonight for Mazanec. Both himself and the Admirals desperately wanted to rebound from a rough outing to the Grand Rapids Griffins last night and he responded by stopping 23/24 shots on goal.

“We had a real good bounce back game,” said Evason. “It would have been easy for us just to let last night’s game snowball into something that was not positive. The start of the game wasn’t great but it turned into a real great hockey game. Real intense. Just a hard fought hockey game.”

Ramblings: Following last night’s game there was a frenzy of roster activity across all three levels of the Nashville Predators organization: Viktor Arvidsson and Juuse Saros were recalled by the Predators from the Milwaukee Admirals, Joe Pendenza and Brandon Whitney were recalled by the Admirals from the Cincinnati Cyclones, and the Predators placed Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque in injured reserve. Tonight’s line combinations for the Admirals were: Fiala-Gaudreau-Görtz, Åberg-Kamenev-Moses, Payerl-Reinhart-Bass, Devane-Girard-Pendenza, Allen-Oligny, Näkyvä-Aronson, Noonan-Murphy. In Nashville, Saros made his NHL debut starting in net on home ice. Arvidsson was slapped with a five minute major for crosschecking and a game misconduct in his return to NHL action.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? How did you like the Admirals response both to last night’s game and a sluggish first period?

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Saros and Arvidsson Heading to Nashville

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

“What? What’s that? What did Juuse? Juuse I’m getting called up to the NHL for the first time ever? I say that’s crazy awesome!” (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Nashville Predators have announced that Juuse Saros and Viktor Arvidsson have both been recalled from the Milwaukee Admirals. In addition the Predators have placed Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque on injured reserve. Saros will be making his NHL debut tonight as he starts in net for the Predators on home ice.

This news comes after a 3-2 overtime loss by the Predators on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers that saw Bourque get injured and miss the final two periods of that contest due to an an upper-body injury.

Carter Hutton was caught up in a frightening collision with Marcus Foligno in Wednesday’s Predators road game against the Buffalo Sabres. He will be out of game action due to a lower-body injury. This subsequently is the reasoning behind Saros first career NHL recall where he’ll partner up with Finnish National Team goaltending partner Pekka Rinne. The two combined to set a modern day World Championship team shutout record in May and are good at mirroring each other.

In response, the Admirals have recalled Brandon Whitney and Joe Pendenza from the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Both should join the team ahead of tonight’s game against the Rockford IceHogs.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (November 28, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Saturday that the club has recalled forward Viktor Arvidsson and goaltender Juuse Saros from Milwaukee (AHL), and placed forwards Gabriel Bourque and Paul Gaustad on Injured Reserve.

Arvidsson, 22 (4/8/92), posted a point in each of his first 13 AHL contests this season – the longest point streak in the league in 2015-16 and longest by an Admiral since 2009-10 (Mike Santorelli, 14 games) – and paces the club with 17 points (7g-10a) in 14 games. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound native of Skelleftea, Sweden, scored his first NHL goal, which stood as the game winner, in Nashville’s season-opening victory vs. Carolina on Oct. 8, and has a goal in four games this season after going scoreless in his first six NHL contests a season ago. Nashville’s fifth choice, 112th overall (fourth round), in the 2014 NHL Draft, Arvidsson was named to the 2015 AHL All-Rookie Team in his first season in North America after ranking third among league rookies and first on the Milwaukee Admirals in points (22g-33a-55pts).

Saros, 20 (4/19/95), has posted an 8-2-0 record, a 2.40 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and a shutout for Milwaukee in 2015-16, his first campaign in North America. During the month of November, the Forssa, Finland, native has gone 7-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .932 save percentage and a shutout. Prior to joining the Admirals, Nashville’s fourth choice, 99th overall (fourth round), in the 2013 Entry Draft spent two seasons with HPK of the Finnish Elite League, being named league rookie of the year in 2014, as well as helping Finland win the 2014 World Junior Championship, its first gold medal at the tournament since 1987, receiving 2014 WJC Media All-Star Team honors in the process after leading all goaltenders in save percentage (.943) and goals-against average (1.57) in six games.

The Nashville Predators return home tonight to play the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. CT as they begin a three-game home stand (TV: FOX Sports Tennessee; Radio: 102.5 The Game). The Predators will also face off against the Arizona Coyotes (Tuesday) and Florida Panthers (Thursday) during this three-game set. Fans can still take advantage of the “Gold Friday” super sale. During the sale, fans can get up to 80 percent off admission for select games, as well as discounts on merchandise and specials on parking. The “Gold Friday” sale ends Sunday Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. For more information on “Gold Friday,” fans can visit

The Arvidsson news doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Bourque’s injury in yesterday’s game was in plain sight and Arvidsson may well have been working his way into a call up regardless of an injury situation. After starting his season in Nashville all Arvidsson did in Milwaukee was score points en route to becoming the Admirals leading scorer with 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) in 14 games. It took until last night, when the Admirals were shutout, for his AHL best thirteen-game point streak to end. The next closest point streak in the AHL this season was ten-games long by Pat Cannone of the Chicago Wolves.

Saros first career NHL call up comes as a shock for most. I don’t know if you chalk that more up to Nashville suffering a goaltending injury or that it is simply down to Saros reaching the NHL this fast. No matter what the fact is this: all that hype leading into Saros’ first season playing professionally in North America is spot on. Saros has made ten starts this season, won eight games including his last seven straight, has a 2.40 goals against average, 0.919 save percentage, and a shutout to his name.

While there might be some wagging a finger saying Marek Mazanec is being passed over or that the Czech netminder hasn’t been playing as well as his counterpart here in Milwaukee I am not one of those people. I feel both Admirals goaltenders this season have been phenomenal and often times have bailed out the young roster out in front of them. This move of bringing Saros up could well be similar to that of Mazanec’s debut season in North America. Remember that it was Magnus Hellberg that had the initial call up in early stages of the 2013-14 season before Mazanec stayed up for awhile. I think it is just as much giving a taste of things to come as it is eventually allowing playing opportunities.

As far as the moves for the Admirals are concerned. They’re now without their: team captain Colton Sissons, leading scorer Arvidsson, and arguably their top goaltender in Saros. This move is an immediate test of the young team to see how they handle a significant roster turnover. Such a happenstance like this was one of the major issues in adjusting to late last season. They’ll all need to be better than that and stick to Admirals hockey rather than go into panic mode just because there are some missing pieces.

In place of Arvidsson the Admirals will look to see if Pendenza can replicate his outstanding scoring touch at the ECHL level in Cincinnati right here in Milwaukee. Pendenza has been fantastic since joining the Cyclones: 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 15 games with a plus/minus rating of +5 and 10 penalty minutes. He is second on the team in scoring trailing only Nick Huard by a single point of offense.

The Admirals might have considered recalling Eric Robinson but the unfortunate reality is that he was injured on Thanksgiving Thursday. There aren’t details on his injury but the speculation makes it seem like it might be a bit before he’s back to game action. In addition, Jaynen Rissling has also been out of action due to injury which hinders his transition from defenseman to forward.

Then there is Mr. Whitney who has been playing under the shadow of Brad Thiessen at the ECHL level with the Cyclones. While that might come off as a bad thing to say – I have always been a big fan of Thiessen and think that a youngster such as Whitney is learning a tremendous amount being able to partner up with someone of Thiessen’s very underrated abilities. Whitney has started 4 games out of the Cyclones 16 games played this season. He dropped his opening performance with the team but has since been deserving of an AHL look for his work in net. In Whitney’s last 3 starts he has won each contest and stopped 82/87 shots on goal for a 1.62 goals against average and 0.943 save percentage.

What is your reaction to all this news? Is it surprising to see the Predators select Saros over Mazanec? Could Mazanec potentially be beating himself up between the ears over this news? With Arvidsson’s fire power now out of the lineup is it important for the Admirals to focus more on defensive hockey to win games or should they maintain their balanced approach?

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IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Greg Hamil)

Just because you were teammates the year prior doesn’t mean you’ll stay friends on opposite sides of the ice a year later when the game begins. (Photo Credit: Greg Hamil)

If last night’s Milwaukee Admirals game still has you down I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the Admirals can instantly put last night in the past by picking up a win tonight against the Rockford IceHogs. The bad news is that, for an Admirals team that was just shutout, the IceHogs defense limited a very strong Chicago Wolves offense to only fifteen shots on goal in a game that saw Rockford win smoothly during a fight filled clash.

The IceHogs have a record of 12-4-1-2 (27 points) with a points percentage of 0.711. With the results going as they did last night the Admirals dropped from the top of the Central Division to third. The Lake Erie Monsters now lead the division with a 0.722 points percentage with the IceHogs not too far behind them.

Since the last meeting between the Admirals the IceHogs have won all three-games that they’ve played and done so on the strength of their defense. The IceHogs have produced 3 goals in each victory while goaltender Michael Leighton has stopped 68/72 shots on goal for a 0.932 save percentage. Those games were all played on home ice in Rockford. The IceHogs have lost their last two games that were played on the road.

The IceHogs are led in scoring by defenseman Ville Pokka who has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in 19 games with a plus/minus rating of +3 and only 4 penalty minutes to his name.

While players such as Marko Dano, Tanner Kero, and Brandon Mashinter all remain up with the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL the IceHogs are still getting quality contributions from: Ryan Hartman, 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists)… Jeremy Morin, 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists)… Bryan Bickell, 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists)… Dennis Rasmussen, 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists)… and Mark McNeill, 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists).

While Leighton has been the go-to option for the IceHogs this season that hasn’t exactly been the case these last two games when facing the Admirals. Mark Visentin has been the man tasked with going up against Marek Mazanec in the last two games of this head-to-head meeting and both have provided great performances: 11/7/15, Visentin 37/40 in save opportunities versus Mazanec’s 35/37… 11/20/15, Visentin 32/33 in save opportunities versus Mazanec’s 28/29. That game ended in a shootout where the Admirals beat Visentin on two opportunities while Mazanec stopped both shootout chances from the IceHogs.

What are you expecting to see out of the Milwaukee Admirals tonight? Can the Admirals rebound from last night with a win against the IceHogs? With another defensively tight team coming into the building what does the Admirals offense need to do in order to have better success tonight?

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Posted in Scouting | 4 Comments