Beyond the Bradley Center: The January Swoon Redux

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 40 G.P., 17-17-3-3–40 pts., 100 goals scored, 114 goals allowed, 13th place in the Western Conference (Last Midwest Division). Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (6 goals, 21 assists, 27 points). Best Recent Win: None. Worst Recent Loss: Jan. 20, 2-0 at Abbotsford. Key Upcoming Matchup: Jan. 25 vs. Oklahoma City.

Can you remember the last time Milwaukee won? I know I can! It was on January 6, when the Admirals posted a 3-2 win in a shootout over Grand Rapids. It came as part of a weekend where Milwaukee picked up five out of a possible six points, and also just happened to come on the day the NHL lockout ended.

One thing I remember about that weekend was how good Austin Watson was. He scored the game-winner against Chicago in the final two minutes on Thursday night and then the Admirals’ only shootout goal against Oklahoma City two nights later.

For Watson its been an up-and-down first professional season. He was dominant for Milwaukee in November, scoring 11 points. But the the rookie went dormant on the score sheet for a seven-game stretch in December. Watson, whose never been known as a huge goal scorer, has struggled offensively to tally goals in January (who hasn’t for Milwaukee), going four games without one during the Admirals recent swoon.

Watson got a big goal in Milwaukee’s loss to Houston and now leads the Admirals with 14 on the season. Though there is a lot of outside pressure on Watson, which I chronicled in my feature today on MilwaukeeAdmirals.com, Milwaukee will need him to contribute even more for Milwaukee to end their second straight January tailspin.

A good place to start a turnaround would be Friday night at the Bradley Center against Oklahoma City. Clearly, Milwaukee hasn’t responded well to the end of the lockout. But the rest of the AHL isn’t going to feel sorry for the Admirals, especially the Barons. Five of OKC’s top six scorers, a staggering 80 goals and 200 points, have moved on to the next level.

Perhaps a game against the Barons is exactly the wake-up call Milwaukee needs.

So Roundtable . . . What do you think of Austin Watson first season? Do you think a game against Oklahoma City will help end the January slide?

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