Ads take big step back at Lake Erie

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The good feelings left behind by Sunday’s 3-1 win over Abbotsford were nowhere to be seen last night.

The Admirals opened their four-game road swing with a 7-1 stomping at the hands of the Monsters.

It was a performance eerily similar to the Ads’ 8-2 loss to Charlotte five nights earlier, as Jeremy Smith faced a season-high 39 shots from Lake Erie, while his teammates struggled offensively in support.

Bill Thomas and David van der Gulik each picked up four points in the win over the Ads, as Calvin Pickard scored his 14th win in net this season for the Monsters, stopping 22 of 23 shots.

Thomas got Lake Erie on the board first with a wrist shot from the right circle that beat Smitty at the 15:24 mark of the first period. Harrison Reed scored just over two minutes later with a snapshot from the top of that right circle to give the Monsters a 2-0 lead.

Van der Gulik put in the rebound from a Thomas shot 1:42 into the second period, extending the Lake Erie lead to three goals.

Michael Liambas tried to spark the Ads by battling with Daniel Maggio, and at 6:41 Juuso Puustinen rattled home his eighth goal of the season off the crossbar to cut it to 3-1.

Unfortunately, that would be Milwaukee’s only goal as the Monsters ran away with the victory.

Lake Erie’s Luke Walker quickly killed any momentum gained off the Puusty goal less than a minute later, answering with a shot off the crossbar from the right circle to beat Smitty.

With the 4-1 hole already dug, Lake Erie tacked on three more power play goals from van der Gulik, Thomas Pock and Brad Malone in the third period to smother the Admirals.

Scott Ford’s return to the lineup wasn’t a happy one, as the former Ads captain made little impact on the outcome. He left the game in the second period, and we’ll keep you updated on his status. It’s not fair, of course, to single him out on a night when Milwaukee just wasn’t on its game. (He was -1, and the entire roster was -15.)

Looking at the stats, this one just wasn’t pretty all around. The Ads went 0 for 3 on the power play, and the offense clearly wasn’t consistent enough to get into a rhythm. Adding to that, there were quite a few odd-man rushes created by bad turnovers on the Ads’ end.

It’s tough to blame the PK when the Monsters didn’t break through on the man-advantage until the game was all but decided. But it didn’t do much to help things down the stretch, surrendering three goals in four total PP opportunities.


Evason said the decision to start Magnus Hellberg last Sunday was “an easy one.”

Smitty’s struggled mightily (to say the least) in his last two games, and he sure was stricken by that right circle tonight. Why do you think they went with him over Hellberg? It seems the Ads have been able to support the big goalie a lot more than Smith this season.

My biggest question is why? How do you go from beating the North division leader with Hellberg in net to dropping an absolute laugher to the third place team in that division with Smith?

Do you think not being the go-to starter that he was at the beginning of the season has thrown Smith off his game?

It’s not that he hasn’t had his brilliant moments. He has. It’s just that the team’s played better overall (especially recently) with the other guy between the pipes for some odd reason.

Why do you think that is?

If we’ve learned anything about Dean Evason, its that he’s quick to throw losses like this out the window. Do you think that’s best at this point, or is there something Milwaukee should take from this?

27 thoughts on “Ads take big step back at Lake Erie”

  1. Look for Smitty to go down to Cincy, or a trade such as Ford’s . Needs new scenery for the net minder. Two years ago, I thought he was the next coming . Now, we need new blood in net.

  2. No, you don’t need new blood in net. You need new brains on the bench. You need depth of talent not 3 or 4 guys playing with a bunch of average ECHLers at best. You need accountability both in that if a guy performs well he will get a chance at the big club and if he performs poorly he won’t see the ice the next period. The bottom line is you need a plan, with recognition, reward and player with the tools to work that plan. Right now it doesn’t look like you have any of the above.

  3. I think a trip down to Cinch is in order, but who do they replace him in the lineip with? Would be kind of funny if he got traded since the Ads have a Smith bobblehead night planned in April.

  4. When a team has a bunch of stinkers and the same goaltender is in net for both, it’s easy to blame the tender. I am the first to admit that Smitty has not looked sharp as of late, but these losses are not on Smitty’s shoulders. At this point in the season, IMO, there’s no one left to blame but the coaching staff – whether that be the guys on the bench of the guys who bring in the talent on our roster. As someone else said, we’re playing with a handful of ECHL talent on our roster. Our roster depth this year has gone completely away. Years past, the Preds had so much depth it was laughable. We’re starting to see what happens when the parent club is close to success and deals away pieces from the farm to better their shot at the cup. The loss of depth cannot be fully blamed though because we saw what Lane Lambert did with a bunch of ECHLers one of the years he was here. So the next person to fall is the coach IMO.

    I always do this, but disclaimer – I’m a fan. I have no knowledge of the game aside from watching games in person and on TV since I was about 6. I watched the game on DirecTV last night and it was horrible to watch. Guys were standing around, missing coverage, bad passing, turnovers, etc. I almost want to say this game was worse than the Charlotte loss (although I missed parts of that loss hah). It seemed like our team never adjusted throughout the entire game last night. Lake Erie used their speed and size and basically just out muscled us to pucks.They controlled the tempo of the game. It was a little hard to tell watching the game on standard def tv, so I’m not fully sure if we were trying to mix up lines or matchups but the team did not seem to respond at all as the game wore on. It seemed like we were not making adjustments. This entire season has been the same for the most part – fall behind in the game and play the last 10 minutes of the 3rd period in desperation.

    There’s just no excuse for this poor of a performance at this point in the season. If I heard correctly, Lake Erie was winless in February and only scored 12 goals in their last 6 games (or something like that)?

    What’s really worrisome to me is what happens if Nashville suddenly has a rash of injuries? They have no more depth. Who are they going to call upon? We have Mueller, Watson and Bartley who probably could be called up and contribute. Who else has shown they are NHL ready at this point?

  5. I only watched about half of the game but I can say that 2 of the first 3 Monsters goals came from turnovers in the neutral zone that led to rushes the other way. Crap games like this are for sure a team effort and I can’t explain why Hellberg has gotten the better support as of late. Luck of the draw maybe? Remember Hellberg wasn’t too hot to start the season either. I think a trip to Cincy would be good to help Smith get some confidence back. If that happens hopefully he’ll get some good team play there and all will be right with the world again

  6. “We’re starting to see what happens when the parent club is close to success and deals away pieces from the farm to better their shot at the cup.”

    And that is on Polie and Fenton to make sure they don’t completely dry up the well for the future. Such is the life of an AHL city. It sucks to see the water level in the well sink, but fun to watch the path those that have made the jump.

  7. Many of the comments above are spot on, the depth and talent is dried up, and we are what we are. In regards to smitty, its one of two things, 1) between the ears, I feel that not being the starter and having to be ready whenever is playing with his mind. He is used to going through his preperations and habits before the game getting his mind focused, as a backup its be ready at the drop of a hat. 2) I have felt that perhaps he’s fighting a small injury that he isn’t letting be known. You never know guys hate admitting injury for fear of losing their ice time.
    As far as this team is concerned they need to do some soul searching and growing up, and quick. Perhaps the canada trip will provide some help in those areas. I still remember 2yrs ago when the Ads had Cory Conacher, and I thought “well there’s a guy who really battles hard every shift” and “he could really be a good player for us in a full season” and well we all know how he’s doing, I stil scratch my head and wonder how did that one get away?

  8. Creed, we’ll continue to agree to disagree. Coaches coach. Players play. Everyone is a professional. Coaches aren’t the ones turning the puck over at their own blue line. Coaches aren’t the ones missing assignments. And Smitty, though not completely to blame, didn’t do himself any favors. The old saying is that the good goalies make the saves they are supposed to, and some of the ones they aren’t. We haven’t gotten that from Smitty in these last two starts.

    Two games is too small a sample size to throw in the towel on Smitty….just like we’ve got a small sample size about the maturation of Hellberg. You recall how Chet-esque he was early on. I imagine we see Magnus today in Toronto, and we’ll see what happens.

    Eternally optimistic…they win today and tomorrow and they’re still on their 2-out-3 plan. The stinkers are unsightly and unpleasant, but if they rebound this weekend, we’re all singing different tunes.

  9. Ryan yes, we’ll have to agree to disagree, but again, is the coach actually coaching if a team is continually making mistakes at this point in the season? :-/ I understand there’s only so much a coach can do, and players have to implement the coach’s systems, but with 20ish games to go in a season and your team still looks like it’s week 3 in October, there’s something wrong. Even in the games we’ve won before and in between the stinkers, we still did not look like a playoff caliber team. This team just doesn’t have it this year.

    And I agree with you about Smitty. If my comments above didn’t reflect what you did, then that’s my mistake. There were some bad defensive mistakes made by the team in that last stinker, but Smitty still could have / should have made some of those saves. Smitty’s reaction after two specific goals showed that he even knew he should have saved ’em. As you said, good goalies make saves they are supposed to and some they aren’t. Look at Rinner! He’s been left out to dry how many times over the past couple of years? Yet he still comes away with the save!! Hopefully there’s more to the story and Smitty just has to regain his confidence because we saw he’s a good goalie last year.

  10. The age old debate. Nah, I wasn’t trying to rebut your comments about Smitty. Just about the coaches. Coaches coach, players play. Players play poorly? That’s on the players. And a little bit on the GM too.

  11. I missed the pregame show… did they mention the status of Ford – what his injury is and return date?

  12. @CreedFeed According to Aaron Sims: unspecified lower body injury. unknown return. Will have MRI Monday.

  13. I think I am going to have to agree with Creed here a bit. The coaching hasn’t been that good if you ask me. The coach can’t seem to put any good lines together that have any real chemistry. There are playeers on the Admirals that keep making the same mistakes and making the same stupid plays but the time after time still get a majority of the ice time. Latta is one example I can think of off the top of my head. He takes bad penalties and continuously game after game is a turnover machine but he sure gets a ton of ice time. In today’s game against Toronto he was even promoted to the top line.There are others but this is just one example I could think of right away. In coaching you reward your better players and give them most of the ice time. That doesn’t appear to happen in Milwaukee.

  14. Hockey Lover, while I’m impressed that you were able to get through that whole post and not mention Austin Watson’s name, it’s still the same song. And after reading your opinions which you are wonderfully entitled to, I am of the opinion that you’ve never played hockey. You’ve never had a hockey coach. Because if you had, you wouldn’t be talking about line combos and ice time to justify why you think the coaching hasn’t been very good. Is that the only thing you think coaches do?

    Ask your boy Watson what he thinks of his coaches next time you talk to him. I bet he tells you that they’re great.

  15. Yonkfan speaking of the same old song. The only time you post is when I comment on something. You never mention anything about anyone else’s posts.. same old song and dance from you. You never add anything to any conversation. The only thing you do is try and attack me all the time. Not sure why you have such a fascination with me? So the coach doesn’t set the lines and put the players on the ice and he doesn’t decide who plays how much? Wow…that is a new one on me. Since you know so much about coaching obviously why don’t you enlighten us instead of just attacking people? Wow…what a breath of fresh air that would be. Creed also mentioned the topic about lines but you just criticize my post….hmmm.

  16. Yonkfan another observation. I am not sure what type of sports you have played but whether it be hockey, football, basketball or football the coaches usually evaluate the talent they have and teach them the system they want to employ. In the 20 years or more that I have been playing sports the coach would tell the players what he wanted them to do and teach them how to do it. The players that were the best players and made the least mistakes were the ones that played, the others that didn’t get it and those who made the most mistakes either didn’t play or played very little. What a novel concept huh?

  17. Yonkfan – not sure why you keep picking on Hockey fever – but- He is not the only one saying it is coaching if you read the whole thread and not just hockey fever’s comment.

    I think the problem is two fold:
    players – Players with not a whole lot of talent or vision on the ice. We miss passes, mishandle the puck, defensemen don’t pinch and are trying too hard to score, we dump the puck and do not try to break out etc. etc.

    coaching – yes the players have to buy into the coaches system – but….. What is the system? What other team Dumps the puck on a Power Play?? I have yet to see a team move a 4th liner who scored in one game to the first line while others who are scoring game after game are left on the 3rd line and not moved up. We are not physical. Time and time again we make the same mistakes and do not care because there are no ramifications for bad play. I think that Dump and Chase is only good in certain situations. since that is our apparent system other teams watch our game video and just sit and wait in the corner for the puck. They body us off the puck and then take off on their breakout – not dumping the puck but passing it up the ice.

    I may be way off but this is what I see.

    Yonkfan I am curious what you think the issue is??

  18. I just watched Miracle last night…. the problem is we’re playing like individuals and not as a team. :)

  19. Yeah, other folks in this thread have blamed the coaches, and those people are wrong too. Other commenters beat me to the punch on that. But when you guys come along….well, that changes everything.

    Comparing your experience in youth/adult rec league sports (none of which have been ice hockey) to how things work in professional hockey is a laughable. But you’ve never played ice hockey, so how could you know, right? As far as you know, the #1 responsibility of the coach is dangling carrots over the heads of the players, and rewarding ice time to those that come closest to the carrot. Sure, they’ll play 40 minutes a game, but who cares, right? It’s all about rewarding, right?

    I think you just don’t like the coaches because you don’t think they are treating your boy Watson the way you think he deserves to be treated. You are welcome and entitled to that opinion. Just like the rest of us are entitled to roll our eyes.

    What do I think is wrong? Mistakes are ending up in our net. And you can’t blame coaches for player mistakes. Mistakes are made every game. The good teams find a way to prevent those from turning into goals. The Admirals are having a tough time with that sometimes.

  20. Hey Jake why the venom towards Hockey fever and Watson? No one else on here seems to be that angry at another person’s opinion or choice of favorite player. Can’t we all just get along and agree to disagree?

  21. Yonkfan well lets see. It is the players then according to you that are the problem. Well who puts the same players out there? Wow…the coach. I am only blaminf the coach because he keeps putting the same mistake makers out there time and time again. have you even been watching. Latta turns the puck over at least 6-7 times a game and that is being conservative. Yet the COACH keeps putting him out there and giving him all kinds of ice time. You know the turnovers that end up in our net that you speak of. You must have been dying when the COACH put Liambas and Celine on the first line with your boy Mueller today.
    I think the only reason you always want to pick on me is because I didn’t agree with you about your man crush Mueller. Ever since then you try and pick everything I say apart while the rest of us roll our eyes over how childish you are.
    I actually think Puustinen has been deserving more ice time, Beck has really come on and been earning his extra time, Henderson has also deserved more ice time. There so I just proved you wrong again. It isn’t all about Watson but for you it is.

  22. Also just for your information I have played more than rec/adult league. I actually played NCAA sports which I am pretty sure is above what you have done so your dumb comment is what is laughable.

  23. Where are you getting these stats about Latta? He has the best plus minus on the team. If he is turning the puck over constantly, wouldn’t he be in the minuses? You seem to be upset when someone disagrees with your opinion but you sure don’t mind calling out and trashing other players. It’s tacky and mean spirited. Go ahead and advocate for your boy but there’s no need to slam others.

  24. Gary. Well these stats come from my eyes and watching him play every game. Are you not watching? Turning the puck over doesn’t always cause a minus. Gary I also noticed that you didn’t seem to call out any others who have been slamming others. I only slammed people that had started the slamming. Ryan above also didn’t agree with Creed and I about the problems being the coaches and did I slam him? The answer would be no.

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