What an incredible night last night was for the Milwaukee Admirals. Yes, I know. The elephant in the room here is the actual result, a 3-2 loss to the Iowa Wild (we’ll get to that), but last night went above and beyond who even won the game. The Admirals returning home to what was once known as the MECCA was a massive accomplishment. Last night was the culmination of more than a year of deliberation as to whether or not the team would have a future in Milwaukee and countless renovations once it was announced that the real work was set to begin. So much has has happened in the past year behind the scenes. So many emotions. And it all came together for the show in a venue that we were able to kick back and enjoy last night.
What I saw once gates opened at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena was something I think I’ll always remember of my time with the Admirals. I’ve never seen so many smiles from so many different people. This goes from Admirals front office staff, those of whom I consider colleagues in the media section, arena staff, and fans. The building was rocking long before anything had even been done. I think it just all melted together. The visuals of what the ol’ barn has become, the LED lighting, and even the sounds of the old school organ played by Dean Rosko of the Milwaukee Brewers. Everything felt big time for the occasion but the beauty is that it gets to be like this pretty much every single night now. The Admirals home has been unveiled. It all felt a bit like Christmas.
Now, in saying all of that, I’m not blind to the fact that there were some hiccups in the night. Not everything was pristine or some sort of a crisp production. But, in saying that, I am reminded of the interview I had with Milwaukee Admirals Owner/CEO Harris Turer this summer. A message of “patience” was brought up a few times and for good reason. Fans attending events in the building aren’t alone in these early day experiences. There are going to be some speed bumps along the way because there is a massive feeling out process for all involved. Parking yesterday for myself was an.. experience. But, that’s ok. We’re all learning and taking this in stride, right? The more acclimatized everyone gets with this change the more everyone gets to settle in. Once we’re all there? Jackpot.
That feeling out process isn’t of course limited to you and I. We now address the elephant in the room: the team. In fact, I’m thinking we could disperse this message out across the whole of the Nashville Predators organization as the start to this season hasn’t exactly looked as advertised a month ago for all involved.
Specifically with the Milwaukee Admirals I am seeing a team struggling to do too much too quickly. The Admirals didn’t have a regulation loss until this weekend but something about getting those two regulation losses to a team such as the Iowa Wild, who on paper and in the past three seasons is bad, stings a lot. The offensive chances are being created. The shots are wracking up. The Admirals outshot the Wild 75-49 in the two games. But the quality of those shots are questionable for the Admirals. For all the work much of those shots are coming from a good distance out. The Wild seem content to let the Admirals battling and cycle around the boards while cluttering up the middle of the ice. The Admirals can’t seem to solve passing through that clutter and creating better looks for shots anywhere other than from the perimeter. Their best chances have generally come on the rush this season, If their break into the offensive zone gets stunted or stalled, welp, they’re stuck cycling the boards again with only 3 goals to show from those 75 shots.
What can be said though, of all three organizations in the system, is that the talent and personnel is already in place to right the ship. I find that all three teams struggling right now isn’t the worst of things. It might feel it now but you’d far rather get the ugly kinks straightened out now rather than form late and run out of time to fix them. The players are good. The coaching staffs are smart. Sometimes you really do have to learn how to win before you can actually just win. The Admirals opening weekend against the San Antonio Rampage weren’t exactly pretty games but the two wins that came from it were almost down to character more than flash or skill. Last season’s Admirals squad, much of whom are still here this season, could win in a variety of different game styles and had a knack to adapt from period to period. That attribute hasn’t shown yet but it also doesn’t mean that it is gone. Patience and trusting the process, as an outsider, is really the best medicine I think this Doctor can prescribe to fans right now. Relax. These players and coaches will get past this lull in due time.
After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I also spoke with Adam Payerl, Juuse Saros, and Matt White. Here were their comments following last night’s home opener.
~IceHogs: Scouting the Enemy~
The reason this bad boy is getting slapped on the end of Chatterbox today is, well, we played this exact same game a week ago. I went rather in-depth on the who and what of the Rockford IceHogs before last Saturday’s game. You can find that edition of Scouting the Enemy here. The only thing I hadn’t anticipated when that was being written was just how many Predators players would catch food poisoning in Detroit.
When the Admirals played in Rockford last weekend they were without a good chunk of their team. And while the 3-2 shootout loss was -a loss- it was also an impressive all around game by the team. Mark Visentin played brilliantly in net and, like last night, the Admirals came back from a 2-0 deficit to level things at 2-2. The game stayed there through to a shootout but it was a very hard earned point. The Admirals have bodies in the lineup tonight that weren’t out there a week ago and it could mean even better things are ahead.
Since the last time we met the IceHogs have played three-games. The IceHogs followed up that win over the Admirals with two more at home ice over the Cleveland Monsters (5-2) and Chicago Wolves (3-2). Much like the Admirals the IceHogs are completing a three-in-three weekend today that started with a home-and-home. Unlike the Admirals the IceHogs clunker took place yesterday instead of Friday. The IceHogs were clobbered 7-3 by the Wolves last night and the Wolves went 4/7 on the power-play. Woof.
Both teams clearly want to settle down and get a much better result. Both locked up into a grinder of a contest last weekend. This game is setting up to allow some daylight for the one that rights the ship the earliest.
Thoughts on last night’s game? What changes do you feel need to be made for the Milwaukee Admirals to ignite their offense? Has the loss of Matt Irwin hurt the Admirals defense against the Iowa Wild these last two games?
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