Roundtable Mailbag

Cliche photo of mail spilling out of a bag for a mail bag column. (Photo Credit: Google Image Search)
Your Questions. My Answers. Let’s go through some mail, shall we?

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good mailbag column here at Admirals Roundtable. And, seeing as the Milwaukee Admirals are on a bit of a break from game action before packing up and getting a four game road trip started, I think the time to open the mailbag back up is now.

What is the strongest focus overall, I know it is a mixed package ultimately, that a player should have to be a big benefit for a team…skating, puck handling ect ~Michelle

I think it is the variety of skill sets that everyone has that ends up making the strongest team. That diversity in a group is key.  With how the game is being played today though I think that speed and two-way ability across the ice is one of the most important things to really making it from one level to the next.

Filip Forsberg spent 47 games and the playoffs with the Admirals during the 2013-14 season essentially to find consistency in his two-way ability – especially making sure he has detail to his defending. Look who he was then, look at what that time and learning did for him, and look at the confidence in all-around ability he now shows.

So, you’re right. It is a mixed bag of tricks that all are needed. In that I suppose, at the AHL level, it is finding consistency in those skill sets and consistency over time: shift by shift, game by game, etc.

What’s the best goal celebration you’ve seen this year? Who has had the best goal thus far this season? Do you think Richard has improved from his short time in Cinci? Does who deserves the spot in Nashville: Saros or Maz? ~Jamie

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)
(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

My favorite goal celebration of this season so far was captured brilliantly by photographer Sara Stathas on the Admirals first school day game of the season. When Alex Carrier scored the game-winner in overtime you just see the genuine shock and joy. After that game when I spoke with him he had said that he didn’t even know the shot went in until the crowd erupted. That game already had so much electricity. It was an Amtrak Rivalry game. There were some ups and downs to the game itself. And throughout it all you had that noisy school crowd packing in UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. Once that goal was scored the building roared and Carrier’s celly mirrored the elation of the moment. Loved it.

The best goal that I’ve seen scored this season, truthfully, probably that exact same moment: Carrier’s game winning overtime goal (video). The Admirals haven’t quite had highlight reel level goals yet this season. The talent is there for them. They’ve just had some straight forward or gritty goals to this point. I did love the recent howitzer goal by Trevor Murphy. But the speed, toe-drag, and release on Carrier’s goal against the Wolves to win it in OT was pretty spectacular.

(Photo Credit: Cincinnati Cyclones)
(Photo Credit: Cincinnati Cyclones)

It was only two games but I do think there is something to be said -even then- about Anthony Richard getting to play more with the Cincinnati Cyclones. He has a ton of speed and skill. It just hasn’t all clicked just yet at the AHL level and it has him a bit down on a very stacked totem pole is all. That said, a player has to play games – especially so young in their development becoming a pro. To go from limited minutes in the AHL to top line sort of minutes in the ECHL is just the sort of thing to re-energize a player and give them the boost and confidence they need when they get the recall back. Carrier scored a goal and an assist in his first ECHL game, both firsts in his pro career, and he has looked a touch sharper since. Both he and Justin Kirkland were great scorers in juniors. Once they produce for the Admirals I think it can let them drop the shoulders a bit more and just start working harder and let the game come more naturally. Pressure to match what was at the junior level instantly at the pro level does happen. These are two really skilled players, though. They’re just settling in.

Oh, dear. The “Juuse Saros or Marek Mazanec” question is becoming the new “when can we have Kevin Fiala” question… which was the new “is Forsberg ready yet” question. For those wondering, Mazanec is the man for the back-up job this season and he is because he not only was the more affordable option on an open market but he also put service time in developmental to earn the spot. There is something to be said and to be proud of about promoting players such as Mazanec from within. His lone issue so far this season has been his inconsistency which I think just so happens to coincide with the fact that he also happens to play inconsistently in net.

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)
(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

Saros has been amazing. He really has. He is also showing just how mentally strong he is for such a young age given all this up-down-and-around drama this season hasn’t really hindered his efforts when he goes in net for either the Admirals or the Predators. He is going to be fantastic for the Predators not just in the future but in the very near future. The catch here is – he should be playing, learning, and playing a lot right now. I would think the Predators would prefer to see how Saros handles a full work load as a first-choice goaltender at the AHL level this season rather than throw him up and down repeatedly while wasting game time in his developmental process. As much as everyone in Nashville would like to have him -NOW- how much is he supposed to honestly play in the NHL right now or even next season? I get that some strain off of Pekka Rinne would be a good thing but even this season that isn’t exactly being shown to be the case as to how the team proceeds and they have a goaltender further along in his developmental process backing him up already – and he is sort of hurting because of how infrequently he even sees the net. Mazanec and Saros might be two completely different people, players, and have different approaches to games and situations – but fundamentally Rinne will handle an immense work load for the Predators and the back-up is sort of just stuck in a prone position anxiously wondering, “when do I ever get to play?”

Would it have made more sense for the Predators to go and get a veteran goaltender to serve as back-up to Rinne this season? Possibly, but there is a cost to doing that and it was one that the Predators felt better to just give Mazanec his due all while not paying a premium for someone who won’t see much action. This scenario could change right in the middle of this current season or for next season if the Predators view it to be such an issue. Again, I think ideally Saros should be playing a workhorse role for the Admirals this season to gain what the experience of being first-choice goalie in North America is like. Instead, it is all incredibly up in the air. It’s workable in the short term as Saros gets a glance at life in the NHL, practicing with NHL talent, and learning from watching Rinne from afar. Mazanec gets to log games for the Admirals and get back in form. I just don’t think this helps anyone in the long term. Inconsistency breeds inconsistency.

I know coach likes the new barn, what do the players think? Getting used to the ice, new locker room, noise level, etc. ~Larry

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

The response I’ve gathered from the players is universally positive. That comes from those who experienced life at the BLO Harris Bradley Center or some of those experiencing the AHL for the first go-round this season at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. It is an Arena with such a great history about it. There is a character and a charm about it. And, above all, the Admirals really can call this there home and have probably practiced at the building more this season -already- than all of last season by a good margin. It makes for such a better comfort level. The locker room facilities being as nice as they are encourage players to show up early and stick around later to just hang out – which creates a positive working atmosphere and stronger team bond. Then, come game time, the fans are piled on the action that much more and the roof is lower. The buzz and noise going on during a game has just been amplified. It’s just another thing the players notice and appreciate.

Why the switch back to the ball and glove logo this year on the jerseys? ~Justin

This is one of the first things I caught this season. While I can’t definitively say why it was the case, after a season in which the Milwaukee Brewers more current logo was in use, I do think it is a case of the Brewers moving towards that logo. It isn’t just the ol’ retro ball and glove it is the alternate version introduced at Spring Training last season that stuck around as an alternate. It’s not only now on the Admirals uniforms but the Brewers advertising banners on the boards around the rink, as well. I’m not sure if that is a sign of an upcoming full change in the near future or simply a direction they wanted to go with on the Admirals side of things. My guess is they have a minor rebranding in the works.

Have further questions? Ask away and I shall update this story with your question and a response.

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