There’s plenty to like from last night’s Milwaukee Admirals 5-2 (Video Highlights) win against the Texas Stars. The offense contributed on even strength, power-play, and even shorthanded on the penalty kill. The final five minutes of regulation was a showcase for the defense not allowing a Stars goal despite so much time with empty net and extra attacker – even more so once the Admirals then were in late penalty kill mode, as well. In net, Marek Mazanec was almost a quiet hero… almost.
Above all the point of emphasis comes down to this weekend’s games really being team victories. The Admirals are playing so strong as a team and doing it while so many names are either up with the Nashville Predators or out with injury. The perfect example of how things have clicked can probably be pointed to the likes of Joe Pendenza, Vinny Saponari, Matt White, and Zach Budish all stepping in and immediately playing as if they’ve been around this whole season. It’s a credit to the players buying into what the coaching staff is preaching and quite simply the coaching staff in general making sure everyone is remaining focused throughout this number crunch with the roster being so thin.
Last season when the Admirals really started struggling it came with the loss of Miikka Salomäki for the season and Brendan Leipsic via trade. The roster started changing around and so many I think never really settled into a groove or place of comfort. The results screamed consistent inconsistency. I feel as if that’s been a point of emphasis to avoid falling into the same trap this season for both coaches and players. Don’t worry about who is and isn’t here. Know that you’re here right now, battle, compete, and contribute offensively and defensively. That’s what I’m seeing from the Admirals lately and it’s refreshing seeing no matter who is hurt, called up, reassigned, sent to Siberia and never heard from again, or scratched that a group of players take the ice for puck drop and play as a team.
Looking ahead to this coming week is slightly refreshing to find a set of road games on the horizon. The Admirals have basically played the last nine-games in their own backyard: eight-games at home and one on the road via a quick bus trip back and forth to face the Chicago Wolves on Saturday night. It’s not that the Admirals have played poorly these last nine-games. They’ve pulled in a record of 7-2-0-0 during that time. At this point in time, with the roster thinned out and lots of different players around, it almost gives them a time to get together and know one-another more off the ice. The chemistry this past weekend was good between lots of different players in lines they aren’t used to being in. Allow for some fun to be had as a team away from the rink and I have to imagine the team gets stronger as a result of more time being spent together.
The Admirals next opponent should be one that will have extra incentive to play hard against. When the Admirals last played the Grand Rapids Griffins they put an end to the franchise record ten-game winning streak with a massive thud. The Griffins won 6-0 in Milwaukee. Right now the Griffins are resurgent and playing like, well, the Griffins. After such a awful start to their season they’re currently on an eight-game winning streak. How sweet would it be to return the favor by snapping a lengthy winning streak with a road win?
Beyond that, this coming weekend will be the Admirals first games played in Manitoba since a Thursday/Saturday double-dip during the 2010-11 season. The Admirals lost that first game 3-0 but came back to win 3-2 in overtime the next time out. You know it’s been awhile when one of the goal scorers, Scott Ford, is now an assistant coach behind the bench. This season, for as terrible as the Moose have played, they’ve had the better of the Admirals in both games played in Milwaukee. This week is setting up to be a revenge tour and, if the Admirals can get past the Griffins on Wednesday, it could be quite an enjoyable time in Admirals-land by the time they get back to Milwaukee next week Tuesday.
After last night’s game I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I also chatted with Frédérick Gaudreau, the PTO signing duo of White and Budish, as well as noted goal scorer Jimmy Oligny. Here is what they had to say following last night’s win over the Texas Stars.
Comments on the comments? Are you surprised by the Milwaukee Admirals performances lately with the roster as thin as it is? How much better can this team actually be once bodies start getting healthy throughout the Nashville Predators organization?