How long did it take to put the Admirals 6-0 thrashing at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins in the past? Thanks to last night’s 2-1 win against the Rockford IceHogs the correct answer to that question is 24-hours.
I want to focus on one individual that I think sums up this quick turnaround from Friday to Saturday night’s games. That man to me is Marek Mazanec. Think about what was going on in his head along the way. You go from the high of a franchise record ten-game winning streak – to a game where you were in net getting decimated – after the game you find out that your teammate is going up to the NHL instead of you – and your response to it is to be a rock for your teammates in net.
If Mazanec were to enter tonight’s game as the started only just to lay an egg I think I’d be willing to understand. Friday night’s game was rough. I’m not sure if there were many goals he allowed in the game that you could say were all his fault but rarely does a goaltender let six-goals get past him. He ends up being on the bad end of all the good that took place with the winning-streak. Smashed a few goaltending sticks by night’s end out on the ice. And then he sees what he might have felt was his role this season, the first choice goaltender in Milwaukee to be brought up in the event of an injury to either Pekka Rinne or Carter Hutton, vanish and go to Juuse Saros directly following a game when he allowed six-goals.
He could have been mentally or emotionally in bits. His focus on the IceHogs could have been non-existent with his head frozen in Friday night. That was one of two routes that Mazanec could have gone. I think the result speaks for itself but, allow me to drive the point home, he bailed the Admirals out numerous times in last night’s first period alone to give them a chance at winning that game.
When reflecting back on last night’s first period the only real saving grace was Vladislav Kamenev‘s breakaway goal. When you push that to the side and see what was left of the first period you see IceHogs domination with Mazanec stopping 14/15 shots as the Admirals offense puts only 4 shots on goal the entire period. The Kamanev goal was great. But, almost with or without it, the feeling of what happened last night was strongly creeping into the game. The difference between the Admirals going into the first intermission tied at 1-1 and not down by a goal or multiple goals was Mazanec. From the first intermission forward the Admirals confidence grew and they started looking more like themselves again. That doesn’t happen unless Mazanec gets them through the first period.
It’s also been pleasant seeing the Admirals penalty kill starting to really click no matter who is tasked with getting out to perform on it. It looked so disjointed those first few games. By the numbers… the Admirals penalty kill went 23/32 (71.9%) in the month of October over the course of seven-games… the Admirals penalty kill went 40/48 (83.3%) in the month of November over the course of twelve games.
All in all, good stuff and it doesn’t end there. For really the first time this season there were interview bombs taking place during tonight’s post-game interviews. You’ll get none during Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason‘s presser but the players were all buzzing around as they once again gave back to the fans by meeting them and signing autographs on their Stormtrooper jerseys that were put up for auction this past Friday and Saturday. In order: you’ll hear Jimmy Oligny (with Félix Girard butting in), Pontus Åberg, and Joe Pendenza (with Mazanec’s non-stop commentary in the background). Kick back and listen in to last night’s post-game interviews.
Comments on the comments? Do you feel like Mazanec and Saros might potentially get swapped soon by the Nashville Predators or do you think they are content to keep Saros up until Hutton returns? What did you think of Pendenza’s return to the Admirals lineup? Were you impressed to see the Admirals play that well with so many key names out of the squad?