You might assume that there are only so many talking points when you see a 1-0 overtime scoreline. And you might be right. But here it goes.
The Milwaukee Admirals once again didn’t have the greatest of starts. Frankly, it wasn’t to say that the Chicago Wolves were by far better than them. They weren’t head and shoulders above them. They weren’t even as hot out of the gate as they were when they matched up in Chicago last weekend. If the Wolves had that high energy of a start as they did then last night the result could have been flipped on its head with a finish coming in regulation on the Wolves side. But, it didn’t.
When I walked down for post-game interviews after last night’s game it almost didn’t dawn on me until the coaches or players were chatting away that Juuse Saros earned a shutout. My defense for that comes with two key pieces of evidence: (1) last night’s game took two hours and thirty-six minutes to complete. For a game with not many reasons to take delays or breaks in action – there were plenty and it was draining on the mind to sit through as a goalless game was played. (2) Most of what Saros did so well actually came in that opening period – the rest of the game the Admirals outshot the Wolves 30-12 in the last 41:29 of ice time. The Admirals outshot the Wolves 21-6 in the third period alone. It’s the first time since 2/21/14 vs. Abbotsford that the Admirals post a 20 shot period. The last time they posted a 21 shot period came on 12/6/13 vs. Oklahoma City. The Admirals third period shooting output was actually more than they had produced in three of other games played this season: 10/10/15 @ Chicago… 11/28/15 vs. Rockford… and 1/5/16 vs. Lake Erie. Saros nearly became the equivalent of a cardboard cutout just chilling out in net for the final period of regulation.
Where Saros was at his best was straight from the opening puck drop until the horn sounded to signal the end of the first period. He was great and sharp to everything being thrown his way. The lone bullet that he dodged, and for that matter the Admirals in that entire game, was an André Benoît shot that ripped past Saros’ on the glove side and spanked off the far post and off into the right wing corner. That’s as close as the Wolves really got all night to a goal and it came in a first period where they outworked and outshot the Admirals 10-9.
Thanks to the rock solid effort by Saros in the opening twenty-minutes the Admirals were able to weather a storm and get momentum built offensively. That all starts with Saros as the foundation in net and a little spark from a Cody Bass brawl that had the 8,409 in attendance making some noise. That’s when the game changed for the Admirals. And there was only so much that Pheonix Copley was going to be able to fend off before the Admirals put a puck past him. It took until overtime before the Admirals did just that with Pontus Åberg -but- job done.
When you ready yourselves for what’s in-store this afternoon in Chicago there should be a question mark floating around immediately. Last weekend the Admirals stormed the first game in Milwaukee and the follow up saw a hot start by the Wolves but a defensively paced slow crawl that they came out on top of. Last night was the slow crawl – by far and away slower of a crawl than last weekend’s game that ended 2-1. So what does that mean for this afternoon? Is the rink going to open up for a track meet where the law of averages that took a day off last night comes back to allow for a goal fest that balances out the weekend or is it simply more of the same? It makes me wonder.
After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Saros, Åberg, and the recently acquired Corey Potter. This is what they had to say following the 1-0 overtime victory.
Comments on the comments? How do you feel today’s game in Chicago is going to play out? Would it be safe to assume the Wolves will look to simply perform within their defensive bubble once again?
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