(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Admirals)
Remember that power play we talked about earlier this week?
The Admirals almost doubled their Mountain Fury power play conversions for the season tonight.
Three power play goals, a goaltender that was in the zone, and a defense that got their sticks on a lot of passes helped the Admirals skate away with a 3-1 win Friday night over the Charlotte Checkers.
Coach Muller was happy to see the hard work in practice this week pay off.
The special teams were certainly on display in the first period, as there were 20 minutes of penalty time just in the first frame alone, and plenty of power play time for both squads. The Admirals were able to kill off all their penalties, and scored on a pair of their own power plays.
Kyle Wilson got on the board first at the 13:15 mark of the period. After Chris Mueller carried the puck into the offensive zone, the puck got knocked off of his stick…right to Wilson who was trailing the play. His shot from the top of the far circle beat Checker goaltender Mark Murphy.
Two minutes later the Admirals cashed in again, this time on a two-man-advantage that actually looked like a two-man-advantage. Good puck movement, good decisions, and a bang-bang-bang play led to the goal. Juuso Puustinen with the pass from the point down to Wilson, who had the quick pass across the crease to Mueller for the goal. It’s a play we’ve seen so many times executed against us…what a treat to see that play work on our own power play.
Five-on-five hockey brought us some good chances on both ends, but better chances for Charlotte in the 2nd period. Jeremy Smith stood on his head until Chris Durno redirected a shot from the point past him.
Saying that Smitty stood on his head really is an understatement. We had run into a bunch of hot goaltenders earlier in the season, and Smitty was doing a great job tonight keeping the team in the lead. Coach liked his game too.
High marks also for Victor Bartley who blocked a slew of shots on the PK.
Bartley scored an insurance goal 8:15 into the period, with a shot from the slot that finished a give-and-go with Taylor Beck. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.
(Editors note: they just gave an assist to Bourque on the Bartley goal. Apparently for the scorers or whoever made the update after the game, it was a give-and-give-and-go)
Murphy spent the last 1:51 of the game on the bench, but the Checkers could get no closer.
Lots to like tonight.
– Obviously, the special teams were a step or two or ten notches above where they were last weekend. Bartley told us after the game that they knew the Checkers were good on special teams, and they knew what they needed to do to be effective against them.
– The Admirals were blocking shots and deflecting passes all game in their own end. Bartley was huge in those departments in the first period. And on the forecheck, I thought Jani Lajunen’s stick was a magnet for errant passes.
– Early in the 3rd period, I thought the Ads did a nice job picking up the physical play. Scott Valentine had some nice hits, and Scott Ford had a great hit up ice that led to his
fight dance recital. Stortini’s fight wasn’t much to talk about, and the timing was odd….after a handpass call…but Durno apparently said the magic word to get it going.
– Thanger had an off-night. I don’t blame it on his cup of coffee with the Preds earlier this week. Just an off-night. I bet he’ll be back to his normal self tomorrow in Peoria. But I think there are a few chances from tonight that he’d like to have back.
– I didn’t care for Ben Ryan’s debut. Sutty says, “Who’s that?”. Sutty apparently doesn’t read the blog during the week. (Sutty says, “What blog?”). But it says something that Ryan was getting ice-time in the 3rd period, which is something Joel Champagne hadn’t received very often.
Ok Roundtable: Feel better about special teams now, or is it like a box of chocolates? We’ve gushed about Bartley for most of this post…who else impressed you tonight? What was your first impression of the Checkers? Ever seen that many penalties in the first period? Do you think the Admirals pull this one out if more of the game was spent 5×5?