It’s not all that often here on Admirals Roundtable when you’ll be getting an early bird special on a pre-game write up. Then again, it’s not all that often you get Milwaukee Admirals hockey games that start in the AM hours of the morning. That will be the case tomorrow when the Admirals faceoff against the Iowa Wild at 10:30 AM. The Admirals will also have a 10:30 AM start time next week on Wednesday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center when the Lake Erie Monsters make their first visit to Milwaukee. But enough of this AM hockey for the moment. What about Round 3 of Admirals/Wild?
This is the third time out of eight games that the Admirals will have played against the Wild in Iowa this season. That means only one more trip to Iowa, one long bus trip, exists on the entire 2015-16 calendar. That won’t occur again until March 13th so it’s actually pretty nice that the Admirals are getting these out of their system now.
The first encounter this season ended with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win by the Admirals that saw a goal scored with the net emptied and the extra attacker on. Little did we know at the time but that’s basically been the staple of the season to date. The Admirals have emptied their net and brought that extra attacker on in every game but one this season. Which one didn’t they do it? Last time out in Iowa when Max Görtz scored just as Marek Mazanec was on his way to the bench. That game would end up going a bit more grim than the previous meeting in overtime. The Admirals took a pair of penalties that gave the Wild a five-on-three power-play to work with including an Anthony Bitetto major for crosschecking to give them all of the overtime to be on the power-play. Iowa would cash in off of a Mike Reilly five-on-four goal just as the two-man advantage ended to win 3-2.
I feel as if these two games against the Wild really put a stamp down on how the Admirals have played this season. They are put on the back foot and left to play catch up late. Even when you consider the last game when the Admirals managed to get and hold an early lead for an exciting 24:09 of ice time that second period was all Wild on all sides of the puck. The Wild’s defense in particular were huge in the second game. The Admirals rallied up 42 shots on goal and outshot the Wild by an outrageous 17-2 in the third period. But how many of those chances were perimeter shots that made life easy for Jeremy Smith in the Wild’s net? Shooting for the sake of shooting isn’t a bad thing. Shooting from deep direct to a goalie with a clean line of sight is. If the Admirals are forced to take those types of looks once again they should consider setting their sights low and towards the pads of Smith in an effort to create rebounds or loose pucks around the goal mouth to cause a frenzy amongst Smith but, more importantly, the Wild defense. The Admirals can clearly tilt the ice against this team. They need to try different things that actually make that advantage mean something.
Another thing to consider in this match-up are the goals against that the Admirals have conceded. They’re pretty much all goals that could have been avoided.
Goal #1: Zack Mitchell takes advantage of a botched play from Stevie Moses on the blue line on an Admirals power-play, Moses gets a stick in on Mitchell, penalty shot called, and penalty shot scored. With better composure on the Admirals power-play this could have been avoided completely.
Goal #2: A shot by Brett Bulmer ricocheted off the end-boards and sent the puck rolling towards the goal mouth and left skate of Juuse Saros. Rather than drop and cover the puck Saros opted to squirm out of the way and nearly fell backwards into his own net. Matt Carey would be on hand to smack home the puck as it trickled further out in front of goal. The fault on this goal isn’t squarely on Saros’ reaction. The fault can be shared with Kristian Näkyvä and Vladislav Kamenev who let Carey fly clean past them both to earn the front net position clean. Don’t puck watch. Act. Not react.
Goal #3: The Wild’s passing cuts through Admirals defensive zone pressure and leads to an in-lose to the net two-on-one situation with Carey on the right of goal, Brett Sutter on the left wing, and Näkyvä as the last man back in front of Mazanec. Carey shot a forehander off the pads of Mazanec and that allowed Sutter to get the rebound goal. How such a simple play led to a two-on-one with everyone stuck in the high right wing trailing the puck movement of the Wild is just plain confusing to me. Once again, act – not react. Defensive structure and composure to hold true to assignments needs to be adhered to.
Goal #4: This is one where you might be able to let everyone off of the hook. It was an absolute bomb of a shot by Joe Finley from the left point that rifled in up under the roof of the net. Could traffic in front of Mazanec have played a part in him seeing the puck? Sure, but I don’t think many goalies on Earth are going to stop that shot. It was pinpoint with power from a guy who last scored three-years ago prior to that shot. The term one in a million can safely be used here.
Goal #5: Simply put, this was the Admirals shooting themselves in the foot. After the roaring comeback of a third period that they had the Admirals proceeded to take a slashing penalty (Conor Allen) and then Bitetto dropped the hammer on the nail of the Admirals own coffin by taking a major penalty for crosschecking – five seconds into the Admirals penalty kill in overtime. You’re begging to be put out of your own misery by doing something like that and Iowa, being being a merciful lord, obliged.
~The AM Element~
Oh yeah. About that start time. I have to imagine it won’t be the biggest shock to the system of the players. It’s more so on the fans who’ll be trying to keep up in work, really. The Admirals tend to practice at the MSOE Kern Center at 10 AM most of the time. What changes here is that you’re switching from a practice mentality to a fully blown competitive atmosphere of a regular season environment. If there is any flag raised due to the start time of this game it will be that. The good news is that it’s a situation that both teams are experiencing. There’s no getting cheated here with that. Though, I wonder if Lake Erie will be citing that with the Admirals getting the experience of tomorrow in their system before Wednesday’s game in Milwaukee.
Thoughts and expectations on tomorrow morning’s game? How will you be keeping up with the action tomorrow? Can the Admirals get this ship pointed in the right direction and shouldn’t a team like the Iowa Wild be the one to do it against?