Mueller Stays Hot, Admirals Sweep Weekend Series With Monsters

What a weekend for Chris Mueller.

Playing against his former team (he played in 59 games for Lake Erie in the 08-09 season), Mueller had a five point weekend.  Two goals and an assist last night, and the first and last goal this afternoon.  The last goal was a shorthanded tally with 1:07 left in the game, giving the Admirals a thrilling 3-2 win over the Monsters.

Admirals recap is here, Lake Erie “recap” and photos are here, the box score is here, the updated standings are here, and Waldo is here.

How did we get shorthanded so late in the game?  Steve Begin was called for a boarding penalty, and then he got a stick up in his face.  Begin took exception to that, as did Kelsey Wilson.  All dance partners got two minutes for roughing, but no high stick call to even out the Begin boarding call.

At that point, the philosophy might be to just get the game to overtime, get at least a point, and then see what happens.

Gabriel Bourque was able to clear the puck from the defensive zone, and then Mueller picked the pocket of Monster center Ryan Stoa.  Breaking in on rookie goaltender Trevor Cann, Mueller scored on the backhand to give the Admirals the lead.

Speaking of rookie goaltenders, Jeremy Smith made his first AHL start in net for the Ads.  He turned aside 25 of 27 shots to earn his first AHL win.  The only shots that beat him…a shorthanded goal from Mike Carmen found the back of the net through Smith’s five-hole, and a Justin Mercier shot from the slot that Smith was screened on.  He also made some spectacular saves that showed off his athleticism.

I asked Aaron Sims after the game how comfortable Smith looked in net.  “For a kid making his first start, he just seemed real sure about himself.  Willing to challenge.”  Back in pre-season, there were some concerns about rebound control, and he let a few big ones out there this afternoon.  But on some of those rebound chances, Aaron says that Smith “flashed a glove that was just unreal-quick.”  Very encouraging.

On the radio broadcast after the game, Ian Herbers told Aaron that it was a tough call regarding who was going to get the start today.  That original plan was to start Smith, but with Dekanich doing his best brick wall impersonation in the last two games, they weren’t sure.  Word is that Dex “tweeked” an injury at the rink in the morning, and was held out as a pre-caution.  Aaron later clarified with Ian that the injury was not anything serious.  May be just soreness.  And with the team off until next Friday, I think Dex should be ready to go down in Texas, when they begin their next 3-in-3 stretch of games.

But Ian used the word “maintenance” when talking about Dex.  The red flag that waves is that while Dex has been nothing short of outstanding, he may be starting to feel the wear-and-tear that comes with being the #1 goalie.

Somewhat overshadowed with the Mueller and Smith stories….Roman Josi scored his first North American goal in the 2nd period while the teams were playing 4×4.  A shot from the slot that went over Cann’s glove.

Coach Lambert said last week that pretty soon, fans are going to be seeing that Josi may be the most talented defenseman that we’ve had in Milwaukee.  And that says A LOT, considering how many defenseman playing in Nashville have spent some time here.

NOTES:

Mark Van Guilder — suffered a broken thumb in practice on Thursday.  So he’ll be out for awhile.  With Geoffrion out too, the Admirals lost two centers this week.  Mueller and Mike Bartlett are picking up the center slack.  Maybe Mueller stays there for awhile.

– That line of Mark Santorelli, Chris Mueller, and Gabriel Bourque was by far the best line this weekend.  You’ve got two guys with great speed and tenacity, and then you’ve got Mark Santorelli, who’s got some skill and is starting to play a little more physically than he has in the past.  So it’s kind of a melting pot of a line.  And those three guys have 11 of the 35-non-Klasen goals the team has scored this year.

Questions for discussion:

– Just going to keep it general.  We’re 15 games in.  The team has won five in a row, including the first 3 on this 10 game trip.  How are you feeling about this team?  Cautiously optimistic?  Tickled pink?  Think the best is yet to come?  Think we’re getting way ahead of ourselves?  Give me a player (other than Klasen) who has really impressed you with his game.

6 thoughts on “Mueller Stays Hot, Admirals Sweep Weekend Series With Monsters”

  1. Jeremy Smith had an AHL shut out last season in his lone start. He will make a good #2 goalie in Milwaukee before the ASG. Chet may be history.

    I think the team has turned the corner for this season and will be in the playoffs.

    Mark Dekanich is the #1 AHL goalie with 11 GP, 8-1-1 record, 1.48 GAA and 94.5 save percentage. Milwaukee goaltending is looking very good at the moment.

  2. Smitty did play once last season in the AHL, but it wasn’t a start. He relieved Chet Pickard for the last 4:56 of a 5-1 loss to the Texas Stars, making one save on one shot.

    That said, it was a very nice showing yesterday. Very happy for him.

  3. I know there is a lot of hockey to play but I love this team. We aren’t beholden to one or two guys to carry us. Obviously Klasen is offensively gifted but we have guys who step up when he cools off. We have people who sit (Santo) and then come in and produce when they get a shot. We have great defensemen who impress week in and week out so far. My favorite player continues to be Chris Mueller. He has played on every line, with practically every other player, in different positions, and he is always good. This weekend he was great. He basically, single-handedly won us both Lake Erie games.

  4. Like Griffin, I’m sticking with Mueller. Glad he had a great weekend and happy to see he was 2nd star on AHL.com. Josi still impresses me too. I think the whole team is playing well together and think (hope??) they will only get better.

    Any thoughts on if we will get Spaling back soon? With Erat back he was a healthy scratch last night.

  5. This team i feel is just starting to blend and mesh. As griffin said the team is getting scoring from different places besides klassen. Im looking for lundmark and halischuk to start heating up. Im cautiously optimistic, there is alot of hockey left to be played, it is nice to see chicago at the bottom of the division.

    One player that has impressed me thus far has been Mark Van Guilder, his play in the faceoff circle has been great many a time he has come up with key faceoff wins on pk, it just is unfortunate that he will be sidelined for awile.

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