Watson’s Power Play Marker Leads To 5th Straight Win

(Photo Credit:  Scott Paulus)

Brendan Burke, the play-by-play man for the Peoria Rivermen, tweeted earlier today that “We could be in for another low-scoring affair tonight in Milwaukee. The 2 teams have combined for 4.4 goals-per game (lowest for Rivermen).”

That number went down a little bit.

Tied going into the third period, the Admirals took advantage of power play in the middle of the frame, and went on to beat the Rivermen 3-1 Friday night in front of 12,047 customers at the Bradley Center.

We’re going to break this recap into three sections for three different audiences.

1.  For the locals.
2.  For the Austin Watson fan club
303.  For the Preds fans who want to check on Craig Smith

Section 1:  Keep on rollin’

Mark Van Guilder opened the scoring with his 12th of the year.  He gets credit for crashing the net, but check out Michael Latta tying up two Rivermen on his own.  A lot of Rivermen just watching the play.

After Brett Sonne scored from a tough angle in the second period, a Peoria bench minor for being too manly on the ice gave the Admirals a power play at the 9:57 mark of the third.  Austin Watson deflected a Mattias Ekholm shot to snap his 16 game goal-less streak.

Great deflection, but there were some great things that led to that play too.  Josh Shalla dove to keep possession and send it over to Ekholm.  And then Ekholm was able to reset and get a great low shot on net that Watson was in a perfect position to re-direct.  Great stuff.

Read ahead to section 303 for the empty net goal….

The Admirals special teams came to play again, as they went 1-2 on the power play, and killed off all three shorthanded chances.  They’re 15-8-0-1 on the season when their power play connects.  On this current five game winning streak, the power play is a 25%, and the PK is at 90.5 percent.  Yeah, you can point to the sample size, but that’s certainly an improvement.

And Magnus Hellberg?  Another outstanding performance.  And the defense did their part too.  They only allowed four shots in the third period.  That’s the opposite of a prevent defense.  (Though, one could argue that Peoria was in prevent offence…)

And with the win…The Admirals move to 8th place in the conference.  A long time coming.

Section 2:  Elementary, Watson

Solid game from Watson all-around, taking some important shifts down the stretch while nursing the 2-1 lead, blocking shots and making plays.  And while it had been a long goal-less drought, Coach Evason says that he’s still been a very effective player — especially lately.

And Watson himself?  While it’s nice for one to go in, he is quick to credit the hard work of his teammates.

Section 303:  Mr. Smith Goes To Wisconsin

When Matt Halischuk was sent down on his conditioning assignment, he was the best player on the ice.  By far.  He was a difference maker.  Craig Smith was not the same difference maker.  But he had a very strong play that led to the empty net goal, scored by fellow Badger Brad Winchester.

Here’s Coach Evason’s detailed evaluation, and then a video of the play.

Will he be here awhile?  Longer than the 3-in-3 this weekend?

OK Roundtable:   What did you think of the AHL debut of Craig Smith?  Are the special teams noticeably better to your eyes?  And do you want to see Hellberg again tomorrow against Toronto?

2 thoughts on “Watson’s Power Play Marker Leads To 5th Straight Win”

  1. PP is so much better. They are handling the puck in the zone and moving it around cleanly. Prior to this winning streak, the PP was just horrible. It was a dump & chase scheme in which we lost almost every battle down low. We’re finally winning battles, maintaining control, and making things happen.

    I liked Smith’s game. As the coach said, he got better as the game went on. I’m sure it’s hard to step on the ice only a few hours before game time with teammates you haven’t played with before.

    For those with media access to the coach, tomorrow ask him if he got any word as to why Nashville did not reclaim Boychuk on waivers to be sent back here!! (assuming they actually don’t put the claim in as Poile alluded to this afternoon) I’d be real interested to hear why they wouldn’t pick him up.

  2. I agree with Creed. Smith improved during the game. In the third period, he had 2 guys on him at times. Poile/Fenton should reclaim Boychuk and send him to Milwaukee. If they don’t, expect to see him playing for Charlotte April 6, 7 and 19. The Ads need more forwards and more scoring, Boychuk would provide both!

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