Relentless is a word I often prefer to reserve for players who have earned it. Miikka Salomäki and Viktor Arvidsson are the first that come to mind. Players that are flying one-thousand miles per hour shift after shift, pressuring puck carriers, attacking the net, and scrapping around the dirty areas of the ice regardless if they’re the biggest dogs in the fight for a loose puck. Relentless is as perfect of a word to describe both of those two. And it has been the perfect word to describe the past two months of Milwaukee Admirals hockey.
The past two months have been relentless. Whether it be injuries up top for the Nashville Predators meaning bodies going up, coming back, or guys coming down on conditioning assignment. Whether it be the sheer volume of road games that saw the Admirals at the halfway point in their regular season schedule leading the AHL in most road games and fewest home games played. Whether it be injuries in house with guys like Cody Bass or Adam Pardy going down and causing more moves to be made. Whether it be trades that have taken away two of the Admirals top forwards from a season ago – both of whom were truly well thought of locker room guys. Whether it was any of that chaos – it simply can be summed up as relentless.
I’m not sure when the little world of the Admirals will be afforded to stop spinning. If there ever were a time best to do it you’d assume right here and right now. The 5-1 loss on Sunday to the Chicago Wolves felt like a black eye on what was more of a return to form in a a three game winning streak. That loss just seemed to trickle into the 5-2 loss last night against the Cleveland Monsters. It wasn’t so much what the opponent was doing as much as what the Admirals were flat out giving away. Last night may have been one of the roughest defensive outings I can remember actually watching for sheer volume of goals that were a direct result of completely avoidable plays. It was self-manufactured disaster.
During last night’s game recap I had brought up how the Admirals have tumbled ever since their explosive 9-1 win on the road over the Texas Stars which came on 12/17/16. 6-9-0-1 since that offensive explosion in Texas and have managed to produce 2.06 goals per game. They have been held to a single goal or been shutout entirely in 7 games out of that 16 game spell.
Admirals play-by-play broadcaster Aaron Sims also brought up a fantastic note following last night’s loss. The Admirals have allowed 5 goals or more seven times this season. They had allowed 5 goals or more last season just five times while managing to win a game in the process.
To put you into the headspace of just why this has all been the case I did speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason and forward Mike Liambas last night to hear what they think is going on at the moment and if being at home can remedy it. In short, I’ve never spoken with a more flustered or angry Evason since I’ve been doing this.
I’ll be at practice this morning. Without question. I’m there. I remember not too long ago the talk of “rock bottom” being brought up repeatedly at a practice at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and hoping that it is where they currently were and that there is only one way to go from that place. I’d say these last two games take the cake. This is rock bottom. The group can be so much more than these last two nights and I say that in the prototypical Evason style Admirals thought process in that: it doesn’t matter who is here, who is up, who is down, who is injured- just show up to play. I feel as if you could count on one hand the number of players the last two games that you could say are exempt from fault – and I’m willing to bet those players would disagree that they are.
The entire team right now is rattled a bit. I get that sense. But I by far prefer doing this short of insanity test now than before it is too late to have learned anything from it. There is quality there. This team can be great. That’s what makes moments as the past few weeks such a drag to watch knowing some of these results were avoidable. Yet, it is a learning process and one that demands learning today. Tomorrow can wait and tomorrow will be a heck of a lot of what today brings but the learning starts now. There is no reset button. Things need to be corrected for a good number of players and as a group.
What acts as the great equalizer here in this annoying stretch of games is that the Admirals are at home. It is a place they’ve been away from so much this season and with that comes hectic and erratic practice schedules. That changes now. And the emphasis of getting back to the basics -to me- could be as simple of a starting block as the Admirals need.
Comments on the comments? What did you think of both Evason and Liambas’ post-game interviews and do you think these next few days are enough time to correct the glaring mistakes made last night?
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