Slump Busters! Mazanec and Admirals Shutout Monsters 4-0

(Photo Credit: Lake Erie Monsters // flickr)

The Milwaukee Admirals seven game losing streak has finally come to an end after a 4-0 shutout on the road against the Lake Erie Monsters. (Photo Credit: Lake Erie Monsters // flickr)

The Admirals won 4-0 on the road against the Lake Erie Monsters Tuesday night. Marek Mazanec stopped all twenty-nine shots on goal and Brendan Leipsic tagged the Monsters twice to end the Admirals seven game losing streak with an exclamation point.

In the first period the Admirals power-play struggles from the recent homestand continued. They earned two in the opening frame and failed to convert. Fortunately for the Admirals Viktor Arvidsson would get them on the board at even strength with three minutes remaining in the opening period. The Swede made a hard play from the left wing pocket, fending off Cody Corbett, swooping in across Roman Will in net on the backhand, and depositing his seventh goal of the season with a forehanded shot. It was Arvidsson’s first goal in eleven games.

Brendan Leipsic scored his second goal of the season in the second period to give the Admirals a 2-0 lead. He was breaking in off the left wing, eyed up Will in net, and absolutely hammered a slap shot top shelf. Who was the man that fed the puck to Leipsic on the goal? None other than Colton Sissons to record his first assist of the season.

The Admirals finally managed to break their power-play drought in the third period. It was a well sustained attack that finally saw Taylor Aronson pass off from the point to Leipsic on the right wing. The rookie forward faked Karl Stollery almost out of his skates before snapping off a wrister to the stick side of Will for his second goal of the game and third of the season. The power-play goal for the Admirals was their first in twenty-five previous chances.

Trailing 3-0 and looking to claw back – the Monsters emptied their net with under three minutes in regulation. Austin Watson was able to skate up through neutral ice and pop in the empty net tally to record his ninth goal of the season.

Then what better way to set up the rematch tilt between these two side on Thursday than with a bout? Rich Clune and Duncan Siemens locked horns after jawing with each other earlier in the third period. Both had a strong fight. Give the edge in your fight cards to Clune for drawing blood, though. They had to do a quick scrape job of the ice after this tilt.

Marek Mazanec was as calm and confident in net as I’ve personally ever seen. He capped off the Admirals bounce back performance tonight with a twenty-nine save shutout. It is his second shutout of the season. And, everyone exhale, the Admirals seven game losing streak is no more.

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Joe Pendenza (healthy) and Johan Alm (upper-body). This game marked the return of Mike Liambas to the Admirals lineup after he missed four-games due to a shoulder injury. This was the first time since 10/29/14 vs. Iowa and 11/1/14 @ Chicago that Marek Mazanec made consecutive starts for the Admirals. With the win over the Monsters the Admirals leap back to third place in the Midwest Division.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? What changed in tonight’s efforts over the previous run of games? Has Marek Mazanec played his way into a third successive start come Thursday night?

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Monsters: Scouting the Enemy

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When last we met, the Lake Erie Monsters Colin Smith made Joe Piskula angry. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

There are a few ways you can look at this match-up. The last time the Admirals played two-games in Lake Erie they lost 4-2 and 6-1. But, hey, that was last season. This season the Admirals won their lone contest against the Monsters in a 2-1 shootout. I prefer to hope for the latter. We are on a seven game losing streak after all. Not sure any of us could handle results similar to those of last season.

~Monsters Rewind~

It has been a long time since we’ve seen these divisional foes. With an extra game played, and the current losing streak plaguing the Admirals, the Lake Erie Monsters moved ahead of the Ads in the Midwest Standings on the weekend: 12-9-2-2 (28 points), 3rd in the Midwest, 8th in the Western Conference.

The current run of form that the Monsters are in has seen them go  7-2-1-0 (15 points) in their last 10 games. They lost 5-2 on home ice to the Rockford IceHogs in their last game. Prior to that they were on a six-game winning streak in which they outscored opponents 20-11.

~Who What Now?~

The Monsters are currently being lead in scoring by Colin Smith and Stefan Elliott with 17 points. Smith leads the team with 7 goals but there are 5 other players that have 6 goals for the Monsters this season: Kenny RyanJoey HishonPaul CareyMaxim Noreau, and the aforementioned Elliott.

In net, the Monsters are currently rolling Sami Aittokallio and Roman Will since Calvin Pickard was called up to the Colorado Avalanche a week ago. Aittokallio lost his last outing but and has a 2.65 goals against average with a 0.918 save percentage in December. The last time Will started was on 11/30/14 when he picked up a win in Toronto by stopping 28/29 shots on goal.

~Random Stat~

As a team the Monsters have scored 10 more goals than the Admirals have this season. While that sounds great. They have a goal differential of -11 on the season: 73 goals forced, 82 goals allowed.

~Admirals Rumor Mill~

Patrick Cehlin was assigned to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL on Sunday. Where does the roster move come from? Does it come from within? Perhaps not. Daren Millard of Sportsnet tweeted out last night that the Admirals have signed Ian White to a professional try-out contract.

If true, it is quite the interesting move for the Admirals when you consider that we saw the exodus of Scott Ford, Scott ValentineJoonas JärvinenCharles-Olivier Roussel, and Bryan Rodney after last season. Different situation from the off-season to today, sure. Still curious if the veteran defenseman White is brought on-board.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? Can the Admirals snap the losing streak tonight? What would the addition of a veteran defenseman change for this team?

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Patrick Cehlin Assigned to Cincinnati

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Patrick Cehlin hasn’t scored a point since rejoining the Admirals for the 2014-15 season. In fairness to him – he’s not alone in not scoring much lately. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Before the Milwaukee Admirals hit the road they’ve decided to make a roster move. Patrick Cehlin has been assigned to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. There has yet to be any announcement of a counter move.

Cehlin missed the start of this season due to a blood clot that formed following his hip surgery in the off-season. He started the 2014-15 season with 3 games played in Cincinnati where he scored a goal in his last outing prior to being brought back up to the Admirals. Since, he has played 4 games and recorded no points with 2 penalty minutes.

With the Cyclones next game being played on Wednesday in Cincinnati and the Admirals playing twice in Cleveland Lake Erie on Tuesday and then Thursday – it is possible that Cehlin could be getting a quick run before being brought back to the Admirals before they leave the state of Ohio. My hope? I would very much like to see Zach Budish get recalled in place of Cehlin. He is a bigger bodied player that offers the Admirals lower-lines a different look and, since joining the Cyclones in late October, Budish has scored 17 points (4 goals, 13 assists) in 19 games.

Thoughts on this roster move? What does this move mean for Patrick Cehlin? Who should fill his spot for Tuesday’s game?

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 53

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Yeah. At least that’s how it has felt lately. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. At least that’s what the feeling was for the Milwaukee Admirals in the first period of their 3-1 loss to the Adirondack Flames Friday night. We saw lots of solid hits and hard plays from the Admirals and a speed level reminiscent of the hockey they played during their successful start to the season.

Then it happened. The Admirals power-play hit the ice, controlled and sustained the attacking zone for 1:54 of the man-advantage, and didn’t just not score a goal – but took a penalty of their own immediately after. What did the Flames do with the follow up power-play? They scored.

The Admirals scored a dirty, junky, garbage style goal working a loose puck in front of the net. That basically ended the second period with a high note to equalize things at 1-1. What did the Flames do in response? They scored. 2:25 into the third period. And kept the Admirals at a distance before striking with the killshot with 2:03 left in regulation.

After the Admirals last win, which was over two weeks ago, we as fans were celebrating the performance and words of Rich Clune who said that the Chicago Wolves were a “soft” hockey team. In fact, he said plenty more than that.

“I would be nice to them if they just shut their mouths and took what was coming to them,” said Clune of the Wolves. “But they seemed to like to throw personal comments out toward me. None of them are really tough enough to really deal with me in a fight. They just don’t match up with us at all, toughness and speed. I love running them over every night.”

Since those comments the Admirals have gone on a winless stretch of seven games for a 0-5-0-2 (2 points) record. It’s the worst losing streak in the AHL history of the Admirals and they have now fallen down to fourth place in the Midwest Division standings. If the season ended today – the Admirals, ninth in the Western Conference, wouldn’t be in the playoff picture despite a franchise best start to a hockey season.

While those words alone act as the bookmark to the start of this losing streak – it has been our offense that has been getting “run over” every night. I feel as if the team is being manhandled to the walls and are forced to wide shots from the boards that either get blocked en route to goal by traffic or the goaltender sees it the entire way. The Admirals are not the biggest team in the league. They are not the strongest team in the league. And they’re playing like it.

The Admirals have been outscored 22-12 in regulation during this losing streak. 7 goals from the 12 goals the Admirals posted during this losing streak came from 2 games. I said it last time in Chatterbox. It’s not good enough. Nowhere near good enough. With the goaltending performances of Magnus Hellberg and Marek Mazanec of late – both netminders have been given nothing to work with in front of them.

Brendan Leipsic hasn’t scored a point in 5 games. Mark Van Guilder, ditto. Austin Watson hasn’t scored a point in 6 games.  Viktor Arvidsson has a solitary assist in 10 games. Our entire defensive unit during this losing streak has a combined 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists) in 7 games… anyone not named Anthony Bitetto or Joe Piskula haven’t registered a point of offensive contributions from the blue line in the month of December.

I’m not sure where the offensive accountability is but those meant to be producing have just shut down.

The stat that still baffles me those most this season is that Colton Sissons has no assists in 24 games. Through as many games last season he had 8 assists. Is this an in-between the ears problem? Has what went on in Nashville during the off-season, signing veteran centers and not handing the reigns off to the youth movement instead, gotten in his head? He started his season off here in Milwaukee out of pre-season with the hopes he could build an explosive offensive game rather than play things safe and defensively. Right now he isn’t doing either. Sissons has taken a plus/minus rating hit of -1 with each game played in December. He doesn’t look like the player he was last season and I can’t do anything other than theorize as to why that is. As I said. It baffles me.

I would talk about the Admirals going 0/20 on the power-play during the five-game homestand but I think we all get it at this point. Our 6.4% power-play conversion rate is second worst in the league to the Charlotte Checkers mark of 6.2% in 2 less games played than the Admirals.

Now comes the good part. The Admirals are 6.4% on the power-play on home ice this season. Their parent club, the Nashville Predators, are an NHL worst 2.3% and they have played an equal amount of games as the Admirals. It’s an in-system powerless-play epidemic. Between the NHL/AHL clubs the Predators and Admirals have a home power-play of 4/91 chances for a 4.4% conversion rate.

I don’t know what to say anymore at this point other than this road trip could be the reboot the entire team needs. The Admirals are coming off of what is their longest homestand of the entire season and they didn’t win a single game. That means getting into a routine and a possible cycle of same ol’ same ol’ while festering over the recent bad run of form. It’s in this moment that I think back to the comments made by Bitetto during the Admirals worst losing streak last season.

“Our hardest win right now is getting that first one back under our belt,” said Anthony Bitetto in the Chatterbox last season. “That’s where we have to bear down and get that first win. We have a good team here. If every guy believes in that we will be fine.”

The Admirals are incredibly talented. That start to the season was proof of just that. The rest of the AHL got better as the season started and so to must the Admirals. It might not click on Tuesday night when they face off on the road against the Lake Erie Monsters but I have a hard time thinking that the team we saw playing against the Flames will be the same one turning up for Boxing Day hockey against the Chicago Wolves… that team that is soft that doesn’t match up with us at all according to Clune.

Following the most recent defeat I spoke with Dean Evason, Joe Pendenza, and Austin Watson. I made efforts to try and speak with former-Admirals Mathieu Tousignant and Nolan Yonkman but, by the time I was finished with interviews in the Admiral locker room, both were out towards the Flames bus. Sounded as if Yonkman did amazing fan service after the game – signing autographs and taking pictures. Incredibly classy from both the fans that remain fans of his and the man himself by giving the love right back. Here is what our team had to say post-game.

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Want To Get Away? Admirals Drop Seventh Straight Game

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Sad. So sad. It’s a sad, sad situation. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals lost 3-1 against the Adirondack Flames Friday night to extend their losing streak to seven games. That mark is a franchise record for the Admirals during the AHL era of the team.

“It’s just frustrating,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “Different ways we’re losing hockey games. I guess we have to be better. We can talk about our group being young and learning but we’re deep enough into the season that we should know what we’re doing.”

The Admirals first power-play chance on the night came in the second period and saw them spend 1:54 of the man-advantage in attack. Nothing came of that chance and they immediately paid for it with a power-play goal against. Ryan Culkin’s point shot took a deflection by Ben Hanowski en route to Marek Mazanec in goal. That goes down as Hanowski’s eleventh goal of the season.

With 1:31 remaining in the second period the Admirals leveled things up at 1-1. Felix Girard poked a puck from the side of the net and skipping around in front of Joni Ortio in net. Joe Pendenza managed to land a backhanded swipe at the hopping puck to tally his fourth goal of the season.

“It was just kind of a scramble out in front of the net,” said Joe Pendenza. “When you get into those situations you kind of start swinging and hope for the best. It was a little flutter shot that went in. We’ll take it.”

The Flames scored 2:25 into the third period to halt the Admirals momentum on the other side of the second intermission. It was nearly the exact same goal that was scored from their power-play. Corey Potter threw a puck on net from the right point and, between the circles, Turner Elson caught a big piece of the puck to score his third goal of the season on the redirected shot.

From that point forward the third period really flew by. With 2:03 remaining in regulation another kick in the gut play cost the Admirals a goal to make it 3-1. Garrett Noonan fumbled the puck and allowed Elson to pounce on him and score a breakaway with a backhander. He scored as many goals in the third period tonight as he had all season entering tonight’s game.

The Admirals dropped all five games and failed on all twenty power-play chances during this homestand. While the defense was hit and miss in front of good goaltending it’s the offense that has been stinging the hardest during this spell. This five game homestand saw four players score goals: Pendenza tonight, Pontus Aberg twice, Gaudreau twice, and Colton Sissons once. Six goals in five home games. Here’s hoping the upcoming four game road trip acts as the proverbial, “want to get away?”

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals were Patrick Cehlin (healthy), Mike Liambas (shoulder), and Johan Alm (upper-body). This was Marek Mazanec’s first start in net in two games. Mazanec has lost his last three appearances.

Thoughts on tonight’s performance? Is this upcoming road trip the answer to all our problems? Is the problem with our offense that we’re being out-muscled and forced to outside shooting that gets blocked before the goalie even has to make a save? Can we start a therapy Admirals losing streak support group… because I need it.

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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Flames: Scouting the Enemy

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Mathieu Tousignant was a Chatterbox favorite last season as a member of the Milwaukee Admirals. Hopefully he can show up again after tonight’s game. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The last time we saw these guys they were called the Abbotsford Heat and the Admirals lost 4-2 at home despite hammering twenty shots on goal in the first period. It was during that span when the Admirals were in the middle of a five-game winless stretch.

With the summer move away from Abbotsford, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate was branded the Adirondack Flames after shipping out to Glens Falls, New York. They presented a firefighter killing mascot named Scorch who was shortly after murdered by the team themselves.

As for the actual team this season. They are doing far better than the PR team that cooked up the mascot fiasco. They are currently seated second in the North Division with a record of 15-10-1-0 (31 points) which has them fourth in the Western Conference standings. They have gone 6-4-0-0 (12 points) in their last 10 games including consecutive wins entering tonight’s contest.

~Odd Stat~

Despite a really successful start to the season the Flames have actually allowed more goals than they have scored… 75 goals forced, 79 goals allowed for a goal differential of -4. They’ve played in a game where either they or their opponent has scored five or more goals eight times this season. That includes a game that saw them come out on the better end of a 7-6 goal fest against the San Antonio Rampage.

~Returning Faces~

In tonight’s game we have two former Admirals and a Badgers product. Nolan Yonkman was the Ads captain from 2007-10. He played a career 283 games, produced 39 points (8 goals, 31 assists), and recorded 466 penalty minutes over his Admirals tenure. Mathieu Tousignant will be a familiar sight to those on the squad last season. He played 76 games, posted 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists), and had 158 penalty minutes. John Ramage played for the Badgers from 2009-13. Ramage was their captain for the final two years of his collegiate career which saw him play 157 games, score 53 points (14 goals, 39 assists), and tally 237 penalty minutes.

Yonkman is the Flames team captain and has 4 assists as well as 2 fights this season. Tousignant has 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) for the Flames this season and has 6 fights already. Ramage is in his second full season of professional hockey and has 4 assists.

Thoughts for this game? Can the Admirals return to the win column tonight? What needs to happen to ignite the Admirals offense?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 52

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Miikka Salomaki is chasing a puck that just appears to keep alluding the Milwaukee Admirals offense during this six-game losing steak. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals losing streak is six games. Now would seem to be an appropriate time to use the speech from “Network” or, even better, listen to “Not For Want Of Trying” by Maybeshewill. Because things are worse than bad they are crazy.

That franchise best start to a hockey season with six-straight wins has been erased with four of six losses coming on home ice. The power-play on home ice this season is second worst in the league with 3 goals from 44 chances for a 6.8% succession rate out of 13 home games.

Then there is the player regression. Through 23 games this season Colton Sissons has scored 7 points (all goals). At 23 games last season he produced 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists). Miikka Salomäki, the other rookie stand out from last season, has the same story: 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) from 23 games… last season through 23 games he had 19 points (5 goals, 14 assists). Mark Van Guilder already has more penalty minutes than he did during the entire 2012-13 season and matched his penalty record from the entire 2010-11 season. His offensive production is also down through as many games this season to last season.

It might be a spell in which things just keep getting worse but, just when you feel the Admirals will hit rock bottom before vaulting upwards, they just find another way to lose. Similar to the game against the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Admirals had another good outing in net by Magnus Hellberg and just failed to provide a lead for him to work with. Specifically during this homestand portion of the losing steak the Admirals are only putting up 1.25 goals per game.  During the Admirals six-game winning streak to start the season they were scoring (not including the slapped on shootout figure) 3.5 goals per game.

What the offense is doing right now isn’t good enough. It is nowhere near good enough. Even against supposed minnows like the Iowa Wild or Charlotte Checkers you’re asking for a tooth and nail scrap to earn points. The offense needs to wake up. The power-play needs to play as if they have an extra attacker on the ice (because they do). And the goaltending needs to stay the course and remain reliable.

Right now this is a power outage with the offense unable to gain, pass, or shoot the puck. The transition from defense to offense is shattered. The sooner the team can find it’s confidence back so they can play with the same fluidity, pace, and precision that they did at the start of the season – the better.

The Admirals are staring down the barrel of dropping all five games of this homestand including the two road games that preceded it. The Griffins went through a stint not too dissimilar to this earlier this season. They lost all four games of a four game homestand and dropped back-to-back games on the road. They followed that losing streak up by winning three-straight and six of eight games. Identity lacking. Find it. Get back on a run.

After the game I spoke with Dean Evason, Triston Grant, and Joe Piskula. Here is what they had to say following the Admirals 2-1 loss against the Rockford IceHogs on Wednesday night.

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Losing Streak Reaches Six-Games; Ads lose 2-1 to IceHogs

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Triston Grant’s check to Cody Bass might have been the highlight of the night. Yet, the Admirals dropped their sixth-straight game with a 2-1 loss at home to the Rockford IceHogs. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals lost 2-1 against the Rockford IceHogs Wednesday night. The losing streak for the Admirals is now up to six-games. The last time the Admirals suffered a losing streak this long was the six-game skid in the 2012-13 season from January 11-23.

“Absolutely terrible,” said Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. “We didn’t win any puck battles. Our power-play *pause* there is no power-play. We defend ok and then we lose in a tight game because of that.”

It was a relatively quiet first period. The IceHogs had the better of the Admirals in terms of shots, 8-4, but no team found the back of the net. The standout highlight of the opening frame was a check Triston Grant delivered to Garret Ross that sent the IceHog forward head over heels into the Admirals bench. The reaction from Jonathan Diaby and Jimmy Oligny, who Ross split between the bench, was priceless.

Another big hit along the boards ended up triggering a fight in the second period. Diaby pasted Cody Bass into the boards near the IceHogs penalty box and it caught the attention of Brandon Mashinter. Diaby answered the bell and, despite the size advantage, was knocked down to the ice. Decent blows from both were landed. Score things Mashinter 10, Diaby 9 in your fight cards due to the knock down for the IceHog forward.

1:06 after the fight came the game’s opening goal scored from a tic-tac-toe passing play by the IceHogs. Dennis Rasmussen broke into the zone from the right wing and dropped off for Phillip Danault. As he edged in towards Hellberg from the faceoff circle he picked out the center lane drive by Ross for a one-touch finish. It’s Ross’ eleventh goal of the season.

Then some relief. Viktor Arvidsson passed off from the right wing wall to Pontus Åberg. IceHogs netminder Michael Leighton appeared to be over-committed to the near side post and Åberg unloaded a Gatorade smasher against the grain to beat the veteran netminder blocker side. The goal for Åberg, his tenth, makes him the first Admiral to reach double-digit goals this season.

Forty seconds into the third period and the IceHogs regained their lead. It was a goal for T.J. Brennan that was eerily similar to his sniper shot from last Thursday. The defenseman flew up on the left wing for the rush and ripped a shot from the wall over the shoulder of Hellberg. There was next to no room where he was aiming but the puck dinked off the crossbar and in for his sixth goal of the season.

The Admirals pushed for the final minute with their net empty and an extra attacker on but, just like their power-play work, couldn’t get the job done. On this current homestand, four-games in, the Admirals are a baffling 0/17 on the power-play.

“Our power-play is not only not giving us any goals it’s not giving us momentum,” said Evason. “It has to be better.”

Ramblings: Tonight’s scratches for the Admirals included Johan Alm (upper-body), Mike Liambas (healthy), and Joe Pendenza (healthy). Speaking of scratches, after not being included in eight-straight games for the Chicago Blackhawks – Jeremy Morin was sent to the Rockford IceHogs on a conditioning assignment starting with tonight’s game. Morin had failed to score a point from fifteen NHL games this season after being a point per game player for the IceHogs last season. Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon was in attendance tonight potentially taking a look at the IceHogs forward. Rich Clune made his return to the ice after suffering a lower-body injury the last time the Admirals and IceHogs met last Thursday. Clune missed the Admirals two games this past weekend.

Behind the scenes tonight a very tragic story unfolded in which a fan died of an apparent heart attack. I would like to personally extend my thoughts and prayers to the family and friends associated with this incident.

Thoughts on tonight’s game? What would you fix to make the Admirals power-play run better? Is this simply a matter of the offense running out of steam or are more issues at work during this losing streak?

Be sure to follow Admirals Roundtable on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and see our photos on Instagram.

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IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs)

Thankfully for Frederick Gaudreau – Scott Darling is currently in the NHL at the moment. (Photo Credit: Rockford IceHogs)

Rather than dig back into the IceHogs, a team we’ve seen four times in our last eleven games, I am going to look back specifically at our last meeting. That game was our worst performance all season and summed up the worst of the Milwaukee Admirals during this current five-game losing streak. When the Admirals were shutout 4-0 by the IceHogs last Thursday they had nothing to offer from the opening puck drop until the game mercifully came to an end.

Anthony Bitetto chucked a puck over the glass seventeen-seconds into the game. That would signal the start of a period where they only posted four shots on goal. The IceHogs scored off of a goal that ricocheted off the goaltending stick and glove of Magnus Hellberg, who was trying to push the puck to his left corner, before finding its way behind him and the goal line to make it 1-0.

The second goal scored by the IceHogs was another howler all-round. A real story from that game for the Admirals defense was the amount of times they were burned by watching the puck and not being as active as they typically are. Rather than applying pressure, they seemed to all focus on the puck carrier and lost sight of T.J. Brennan skating from the left point all the way into the left wing faceoff circle. All five Admirals skaters are balled up to the right side of the ice and, in panic to the puck carrier Brennan, concede the backdoor to Hellberg’s net for Matt Carey. While his finish on the one-timer was whiffed. He had forever and a day to secure any rebounds if there was one. Fortunately for him, Brennan’s pass was so firm that it banked off of his skate and managed to beat Hellberg’s post-to-post save.

With the third goal came another mistake from the Admirals. This go-round they won a faceoff in neutral and Garrett Noonan, a bit too eager to start up a long feed for Viktor Arvidsson, turned the puck right over to start a two-on-one breakaway. Noonan was the last man back after the poor turnover because Johan Alm flew up center ice to get in attack. Why? I’m not even sure he knows. The net result, similar to Carey’s goal, was so much time and space for the IceHogs to score that they could jam a rebound in without pressure if need be. It wasn’t needed for Carey’s goal. It was for Drew LeBlanc‘s goal however and three trailing Admirals couldn’t fend him off of Hellberg before he made it 3-0 just over a minute into the third period to kill any real hope of a third period comeback.

The fourth and final goal was really the only one where I feel the Admirals did just about everything they could have to prevented it from happening. Brennan was in acres of space on the left wing, again, but his shot was simply unstoppable to the high blocker side roof.

Simply put. It was a stinker and it was so due to repeated mistakes. The Admirals passing was a mess. The defense was caught napping or being overly aggressive. When you make mistakes as bad as they made them against a team as hot as the IceHogs, who still lead the Midwest Division, you’re going to get a game like last Thursday.

What happened in the following two games for the Admirals did feel like minor improvements with teams game. I still feel that Hellberg and the Ads are very unlucky to not have secured a shutout on Sunday to put down the Grand Rapids Griffins. Yet, even that ended with the uninspiring feeling of “here we go again” as soon as the Griffins scored in the final minute of regulation.

A win tonight is a must for the Admirals. The losing streak is at five games including three straight on home ice. They’ll need to play desperate because I guarantee that the IceHogs, who lost their last two games, will come out strong looking for a rebound of their own.

Rather than get into the traps that cost them last time out. The Admirals need to be smart and keep things simple. That philosophy should have earned them a shutout last game. And it could get them back to winning ways tonight.

Thoughts for tonight’s game? Can the Admirals get some revenge from last week’s loss to Rockford? Is it ironic that the Admirals have lost every single game since Rich Clune called the Chicago Wolves “soft” or is it just me worried about us annoying the hockey gods?

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 51

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Joe Piskula played in his 500th career game as a professional hockey player Sunday evening in the Milwaukee Admirals 2-1 shootout loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Admirals began their season off with a franchise best start to a hockey season by winning six-straight games. Fast forward to tonight and the Admirals are in a run of no wins in their last five games with only two points to show for it from two shootout losses.

Certainly, Thursday’s game was the cream of the crop as far as the worst performance of the season. These last two this weekend have been improvements. Results based sport as it is – a loss isn’t great. And I truly feel that Magnus Hellberg and the Admirals deserved a far better fate in tonight’s 2-1 shootout loss.

They were fifty seconds away from not just a shutout but a complete, start to finish, game. It would have done them a world of confidence rather than let them stew until Wednesday’s game against the division leading Rockford IceHogs. Instead, it still feels as if their backs are against the wall. My hope is that desperation seeps into their game with the same tenacity that saw a snake-bitten team like the Iowa Wild come out firing against us not too long ago. The talent is there. The in-game consistency just isn’t at the moment.

After the game I spoke with Dean Evason, Pontus Åberg, Magnus Hellberg, Anthony Bitetto, and Joe Piskula. Here is what they all had to say following the Admirals fifth-consecutive loss.

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