2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 53 G.P., 25-22-3-3–56 pts., 135 goals scored, 153 goals allowed, 11th place in the Western Conference (3rd Midwest Division). Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (11 goals, 27 assists, 38 points). Best Recent Win: Feb. 23, 3-1 at Toronto. Worst Recent Loss: Feb. 21, Lake Erie 7 at Milwaukee 1.
Admirals goaltender Magnus Hellberg has been named AHL Goaltender of the Month for February. Hardly shocking news considering his personal 6-1-0 record, 1.36 G.A.A. and .950 save percentage during the span, but I think what’s more shocking is that Hellberg, not Jeremy Smith is the Admirals’ defacto No. 1 netminder right now. Smith’s February has been nightmarish, considering he’s received four starts, lost all four and posted a 6.57 G.A.A. and an .810 save percentage.
In the race to be in between Milwaukee’s pipes, Hellberg is the clear frontrunner. Plus he fits the recent Nashville mold as a big Scandinavian keeper (he, Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback are all 6’5″ or taller). It doesn’t hurt that “Hells Bells” is almost exactly two years younger than Smith either.
But before you start forgetting about Smith, remember how good he’s been at times with Milwaukee. Smith is not a “classic” goaltender, but rather a battler without the most “pure” style. Goalies of this mold (like a Tim Thomas or Dominic Hasek) tend to be streaky. If Smith can turn it around, he will still be a huge asset for Milwaukee going forward with four more 3-in-3s left on the schedule starting tonight.
Once last thing I want to rant about before putting away my keyboard: AHL standings. Does anyone other than me get frustrated when they pull up an AHL or NHL standings and the first choice (or default choice) is ranking by division? Sure its great to see when your team is in first place in the division, but that means practically nothing in the greater picture. Playoff berths are determined by conference standing, and therefore THAT should be always be the default. Being second place in your division doesn’t mean anything unless it earns you a playoff berth.
Speaking of divisions, the AHL just recently switched to a six division system to mirror the NHL. Now the NHL is again on the verge of reverting to a four division format, similar to the AHL prior to the 2011-12 season. If the NHL does realign it will be interesting to see how the AHL decides to move forward.
So Roundtable . . . Do you think Jeremy Smith can refind his game? Has Hellberg won you over? Do you think the AHL should realign once again?