Happy Halloween, everyone. The Milwaukee Admirals seemed to provide a mix of tricks and treats along the way in the opening month of October. As much as that offensive fire power left everyone waiting on the edge of the seat I’m pretty sure the end response to the month finally had us all out of that seat. As sluggish or not all “there” as the Admirals may have felt in the first seven-games of the season they still end the month of October with a 4-2-0-1 (9 points, 0.643 points percentage) which is good for the best record in the Central Division.
The game last night in Rockford can certainly get a few names into the mix for the first entry for Admiral of the Month this season. He was a healthy scratch for the Admirals first three-games of the season but you can actually make a solid case that Matt White with his 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) is the go-to guy for the forwards. He has only played four-games all season but matches Vladislav Kamenev‘s 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) for the Admirals scoring lead at the moment.
There are other options, as well. I feel Matt Irwin did a terrific job all-round for the Admirals on the back end as part of the lead defensive line alongside Petter Granberg. Irwin played in the opening four-games of the season but has since been up with the Nashville Predators where he has logged a pair of games so far. Adam Payerl has been really good out of the gate and operates in all capacities the team can throw him into. And while the numbers aren’t there yet to show for it Pontus Åberg has been incredibly energetic and creative for the Admirals. His numbers will come in due time.
All that and it feels like there could only be one proper choice for the month of October: Juuse Saros. The Admirals 21-year old netminder from Finland has been terrific to start the season. The lone exception so far was his performance in the home opener when two of the three goals he allowed on the night dribbled past him. That said, he went 4-1-0-0 from five-starts with a 1.81 goals against average and 0.934 save percentage.
What’s most impressive to Saros’ work so far has been the effortlessness of his work in net. He looks smooth, confident, and -so- darn fast. The opening weekend on the road against the San Antonio Rampage very easily could have swayed a different way considering how tight the games were. But Saros stopped 51/53 shots on goal for a 0.962 save percentage in those two-games that ended by a 2-1 final score. That’s really better than terrific. That’s clutch.
It was by no true shock then that when all hell broke loose for the Nashville Predators due to a spell of food poisoning that he would not only go up on short notice, start on short notice against the current defending Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins, but do as well as he did in that game. It really wasn’t shocking at all. That’s who he is. He allowed a goal after a quick defensive breakdown allowed a two-on-naught breakaway. He wasn’t mentally put off by that taking place. The stage didn’t get to him. The moment did overwhelm him. He just carried right on to make 34 saves and only allow that one and only blunder by the team in front of him to get the better of him for his first career NHL win.
Nothing really does surprise me anymore when Saros does things right, straight forward, or even flashy. It’s more the “he didn’t notice that the puck was between his pads” moments such as the home opener when you have an eyebrow raise. That comes with the rarity of the moment, though. He’s been as good as last season, possibly even a touch better due to the experience last year provided, right from the opening puck drop on the 2016-17 season.
~Admiral of the Month Award~
October: Juuse Saros
Who do you feel was the top performer for the Milwaukee Admirals during the month of October? Was it Juuse Saros, Adam Payerl, Matt White, Vladislav Kamenev, Matt Irwin, or someone else?
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Unrelated to this piece… someone posted this on Facebook…. referee Jamie Koharski is retiring http://scoutingtherefs.com/2016/10/15507/referee-jamie-koharski-final-ahl-game/