Home again, home again, jiggety-jig. The Milwaukee Admirals season long six-game road trip is finally and -mercifully- over. With the Admirals going 1-4-1-0 on that road trip a return to home ice out to be a sight for sore eyes.
I would really like to stress something on the Admirals before going into this very brief edition of Scouting the Enemy (we only just played these Texas folks a week ago). I don’t think the Admirals have played all that bad during the road trip. The power-play is something I certainly won’t attempt to defend. It’s woeful. Yet when it comes to five-on-five play I think the Admirals have performed very well. They’ve wanted badly to generate shots and have goaltenders working for their saves. On the road trip they outshot teams 188-172.
The problem there? Goaltenders who were up to the task with defenses forcing Admirals out of the garbage areas around the net that minimized follow-up opportunities. The result was the record above and a road trip scoreline of Admirals 13 – Opponents 23. At least that’s the “offensive” issue.
If there was any other issue that detracted from the solid play of the Admirals during the road trip it was the amount of mistakes that took place that led directly to goals. Let’s run those down in order of appearance as they took place on the six-game roadie: (1) Falling asleep defensively and allowing the Oklahoma City Barons to score fifty-three seconds after they had taken their first lead of the game to make it a two-goal lead. (2) Joe Piskula and Kevin Fiala botch defensive zone exit that instantly gets converted to a Barons goal. (3) Shorthanded goal allowed to the San Antonio Rampage for the game’s opening goal. (4) Taking a retaliation penalty, failed penalty kill clearance, and opening goal allowed off a Texas Stars power-play. (5) Another failed/soft defensive zone clearance that put the defense in scramble mode before allowing a quick goal. (6) Equalizing the Stars opening goal only to concede another goal fifty-nine seconds later. (7) Defensive brain lapse allowing Stars to score forty-nine seconds after scoring another goal. (8) Johan Alm falls asleep and allows Barons to nullify icing to score late to make it a one-goal game. (9) Taking a penalty with under four minutes remaining in a tied game.
Alright, that is a laundry list of bad. No doubt about that. But here is the counter. Those are all avoidable mistakes and they are all mistakes that need to be part of this team’s learning process. I much prefer the Admirals have a stretch as they’ve been on now than in the playoffs. There’s plenty to be ironed out but they are more niggling here and there lapses within games than major glaring unsolvable problems. Learn from the mistake. Get on with the game. Sights set on the next game. Simplicity is the Admirals greatest strength when they’ve been successful this season. The cure to their mistakes bug shouldn’t be any different.
~Short & Sweet~
The Texas Stars enter tonight’s game with a record of 30-18-13-1 (74 points). They are third in the West Division and, since we last played them, have leapfrogged the Admirals in the Western Conference standings. The Stars are sixth and the Admirals are seventh with a single point separating the two but the Ads having played an extra two-games at this point.
Since we last met the Stars have been rolling. They won 3-2 in a shootout over the Lake Erie Monsters and then secured a 3-0 road shutout in Rosemont over the Chicago Wolves. The Stars are currently on a six-game point streak and are 6-1-3-0 in their last ten games.
Expectations tonight? Will home ice cure some of the recent road woes or will the Stars keep bringing the pain like last weekend? How important is this homestand to restore confidence?