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.
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.
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.