If you were to look past all the injuries and amount of bodies cycling throughout the organization right now I feel like last night’s 3-2 loss from the Milwaukee Admirals really boils down to two key turnovers in the neutral zone that lead directly to the Manitoba Moose winning that hockey game.
Turnover #1. The first goal for the Moose was a direct result of a turnover off a failed Trevor Murphy pass. He was attempting to get the offensive push rolling North but instead his pass hit neutral zone traffic and went South – very South – very fast. The puck kicked back so hard that it got behind the last line of defense, which was Murphy, and sat in the Admirals defensive zone just waiting for Matt Halischuk to pounce on it for a breakaway goal.
Turnover #2. What would go down as the game-winning goal came from another mishap in the neutral zone. Conor Allen skated up on the play and was ahead of the puck carrier Frédérick Gaudreau who was battling with Scott Kosmachuk just as he was crossing into neutral ice. As Gaudreau and Kosmachuk battle shoulder-to-shoulder Allen remained stationary and a puck stealing rush from John Albert allowed for a rapid fire two-on-one with Victor Bartley back defending and Matt Fraser out on the left wing. Bartley defended the pass across to give Marek Mazanec a clear one-on-one with Albert off the right wing. Mazanec made the initial save but Bartley wasn’t able to race in and help Mazanec recover in time and Albert was able to pop in his own rebound opportunity.
If those neutral zone mistakes are limited it’s a different game. The Admirals played somewhat sloppy in the contest but they were easily the more structured team on the ice. Even with those mistakes made the Admirals should have made more from the power-play chances that the Moose kept presenting them. The Admirals went 1/8 on the power-play last night with a goal also coming moments after a power-play ended. There should have been more damage done from all those disciplinary mistakes made from the Moose. It just never really came to be and I think it could be summed up in the first period when the Admirals let a four-on-three power-play go to waste.
It’s a shame really. You could point to the depleted roster being an issue with players having to adjust on the fly with new faces being introduced last night. But they should have won that game despite that being the case. The Admirals beat themselves in that game more than the Moose won it and that’s were frustration gets in.
The good news? If this is really the way things are going to be, with so many players banged up in Nashville, then this little gap between games for the Admirals is a huge plus to get people back on the same page. The Admirals don’t play again until Saturday night. More roster moves will probably occur with the news that Mike Fisher was hurt in last night’s Predators game as well as Jamie Devane in last night’s Admirals game. Milwaukee is stretched so thin that PTO contract signings of ECHL level talent is a must. Could Zach Budish and Gary Steffes be next in line on the familiar faces PTO signing extravaganza? Time will tell but the reality is the team that played last night has some learning up to do. It’s nothing drastic. They just need to gel back together as the roster breaks apart is all.
Before last night’s game I was able to a set of pre-game interviews with Dean Evason, Juuse Saros, Vinny Saponari, and the aforementioned Bartley. If you didn’t hear those you can listen to them right here. After the game I spoke with almost the exact same crowd but with the added bonus of Adam Payerl providing his commentary on the game. Here is what the team had to say following last night’s defeat to the Moose.
Comments on the comments? Should Nashville require yet another forward is Reinhart the best option to step into a Fisher role? If Reinhart goes up, Cody Bass remains in Nashville, and Devane isn’t fit for the weekend set of games it would leave the Admirals needing to sign two forwards in order to field a roster to play. Who do the Admirals look to sign on a PTO contract and should they stick with familiar faces or look for a more explosive offensive option that could be hiding at the ECHL level waiting to ignite the AHL?