Three things Milwaukee is doing well:
1) The play of Mark Dekanich.
Off to a blazing start, goaltender Mark Dekanich is clearly the MVP of the Admirals in the early going this season. In 11 games of action, Dekanich has allowed just 16 goals, while racking up eight wins against just two losses. His statistics are staggering, headlined by a goals against average of 1.48 and a save percentage of 94.5, which are far and away the best in the AHL. The only issue between the pipes that Milwaukee has faced so far is that Dekanich can’t play every night.
2) Turning defense into offense.
Prior to season Milwaukee’s strength appeared to be its defense. Through the first 15 games this season the Admirals blueline has been stout, limiting quality scoring chances against. But the Admirals defense is also keying an impressive transition game. Jonathon Blum, Roman Josi, and Teemu Laakso represent three of the best two-way defenders in the AHL, and all three are off to great starts.
3) Balanced Scoring.
Sporting a balanced offensive attack is pivotal to success in hockey, especially at the AHL level. Teams that feature only one scoring line usually go haywire in the middle of the season when NHL teams are forced to make significant injury call ups. So far Milwaukee has found a nice balance on the score sheet, getting offensive contributions from each of its first three lines. Linus Klasen remains the focal point with eight goals and 14 points, but Milwaukee features 12 players with five points or more through the first 15 games of the season, making the Admirals a tough team to matchup against.
Three things the Admirals need to work on:
1) Improve special teams.
Through 15 games, Milwaukee stands tied for fifth overall in league points, sporting an impressive 9-3-3 record. But the special teams have lagged behind during the Admirals fast start. Milwaukee owns a decent power play, ranked 14th and clicking at a 17.6% clip. But strangely the penalty kill has lagged behind. The Admirals rank just 17th overall, successful at killing penalties 82% of the time. In order to remain among the league’s elite teams, Milwaukee must improve on its special teams play.
2) Find a solid No. 2 in net.
It seems inevitable that Mark Dekanich will get a well-deserved NHL shot, whether with Nashville or via a transaction to another team. But even if Dekanich stays in the AHL all season, Milwaukee still faces seven more occasions of three games in three nights, including two on the upcoming Texas swing. With a win in his first start this season with Milwaukee, maybe Jeremy Smith can be the solution to the Admirals backup goaltender quagmire.
3) Get Blake Geoffrion on the scoreboard.
No player in Milwaukee faces a microscope quite like Blake Geoffrion, who got off to a slow start. But Geoffrion showed signs of figuring things out prior to getting knocked out of Milwaukee’s 4-1 win against Chicago on November 7 (Geoffrion hasn’t been back in game action since). When he does comeback, getting that first goal should spark a surge in Geoffrion’s offensive game.
So Roundtable, what do you think are Milwaukee’s strengths and weaknesses in the early going?