Waiting for the Best of the Admirals and Görtz

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)
(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The Milwaukee Admirals current record of 10-2-1-1 (22 points, 0.786 points percentage) is the best in the AHL’s Central Division. They were the first team in the AHL’s Western Conference to reach 20 points and are still the lone team in conference to win 10 games. At the moment the Admirals are also on a point streak that is up to 8 games (7-0-1-0).

That all said and yet the Admirals aren’t totally there yet. And I feel a very case and point example of what I mean by that can be best demonstrated in the form of the man who finished second on the team in scoring a season ago, Max Görtz.

Görtz finished his first pro season in North America scoring 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 72 games with 18 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of +14. Out of Görtz’s 18 goals he scored a team leading 11 power-play goals during the 2015-16 season. The catch is, for as strongly as he played at the end of last season, not much has trickled over just yet.

This season Görtz has 1 point (1 goal, 0 assists) in 14 games with 2 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of -6. The lone point came from a power-play goal in the Admirals eighth game of the season. When looking back at Görtz a season ago the Swede through his first 14 games of the season had scored 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists). And, if you wondered, he did have a power-play goal of the 2 goals scored to start last season.

In the split between season-to-season Görtz’s shots on goal through the opening 14 games also differ. Last season he registered 22 shots on goal (1.57 shots per game) and was held without a shot in only one contest – the season opener. This season he has registered 20 shots on goal (1.43 shots per game) and has been held without a shot on goal twice.

So, is Görtz just a bit of a slow starter or is there cause for concern to the way he has actually started?

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)
(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

What has stood out to me this season with Görtz is that he has been tucked away in the Admirals lower rotational forward line. It has seen him centered by Justin Kirkland with Anthony Richard on the opposite wing – both first year pros. On the date of the food poisoning up top for the Nashville Predators Görtz found himself centered by Eric Robinson who never played center until practicing with the Admirals in Training Camp. Earlier in that Training Camp he was finding himself centered by Frédérick Gaudreau with Richard on the opposite wing but he’s yet to really get a foothold on a high functioning line just yet. Be it shifting in Justin Florek, another non-traditional center, or out-right making the center role a rotation piece such as last game when Anthony Bitetto dressed as a seventh defenseman.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

Görtz is therefore on the Admirals bottom line in terms of use with players either coming to grips with the pro game or newly acquainting themselves to the center position. He was the Admirals second best scorer a season ago and missed out on the top spot to Kevin Fiala by 3 points. It isn’t to say that Görtz deserves to be where he is. It’s just where he finds himself with the forward roles being really stacked this season. Görtz might be having a slow start at the moment but if he finds any part of the magic he did a season ago he becomes someone with high level scoring ability from the Admirals lower tier lines. Players the likes of Kirkland and Richard can greatly benefit from having him start elevating his play and, with that, the whole team kicks up a notch.

As a whole the Admirals are still tip-toeing through a minefield with surgical precision. The results, points, and wins have been coming and have so out of high level character play by the team playing as a team. That’s an attribute that lends itself extremely well come playoff time and the two contests played on the road against the Cleveland Monsters were basically a preview of just what playoff hockey is like. The Admirals were able to out perform the Monsters defensively in a playoff style game and no one did that better than the Monsters a season ago.

There can be a springboard effect from that type of an effort and the Admirals are still looking for a game where they can get a lead and play from the front. When the Admirals can start getting into those sorts of environments you’d expect better flow of forward lines hitting the ice so players such as Görtz start doing more consistent damage.

What are your early impressions of the Milwaukee Admirals this season? Are the types of games they keep finding themselves in, nail-biters, what should be expected throughout the season or will play start opening up more? Is Max Görtz slow start down to him or more down to how he is being utilized early this season?

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