“It’s always something else,” is the go-to line for me lately with the Milwaukee Admirals. When really taking in their effort yesterday on the road against the Rockford IceHogs I think I found far more to like than dislike. The defensive quality from both sides in that game is what stood out the most. And that has been a slight issue of late for the Admirals. But looking how that game ended? It was a good heads up play by Sam Carrick and then two awful calls that were made by the officials that put a stamp to the result.
I don’t like harshly criticizing officials. They make just as unfortunate of mistakes as players can which impact a game. But by the end of a game you should have a very clear sense of the rights and wrongs of how the game is being called.
When Michael Latta and Vladislav Kamenev are having a small dust up around neutral ice and near the IceHogs bench -if a whistle need be blown and a penalty assessed- it isn’t a one person dispute is it? So, why was Kamenev given the lone roughing penalty? They should have been matched up.
Instead they singled out Kamenev, took the wind out of the Admirals already tattered sails, and ruined their late bid at an empty net and extra attacker bid just twelve seconds after the Admirals used their timeout and got ready for their final push.
Kamenev was simply livid at the situation. And it is hard to blame him for it. On top of the officiating crew singling him out in that minor shoving match the officials decided they couldn’t be bothered with having him go to the box and sent him off with a misconduct. I’m sure he said one of the magic words or probably just the one that is easily translatable across all languages. But he had a point. Why was he the lone man singled out? Why did the initiator of the situation get away with nothing?
If that wasn’t bad enough, the IceHogs taking down Kevin Fiala with a borderline football tackle while he was trying to skate up ice with the puck takes the cake. The IceHogs would score on the empty net just seconds after that happened. Worse, that turned out to be the game-winning goal because Trevor Murphy scored with 9.6 seconds remaining.
Kamenev and Latta should have been in the box. It should have gone to four-on-four hockey. The Admirals would have had the extra attacker on and net emptied and it would have had the semblance of an Admirals power-play in a push to win the game. Say that same lunacy happens where Fiala gets tackled and you’re looking at what should be an Admirals five-on-three attack to win the game in the final minute of play. The officials are human. I get that. But some humans can be brainless. The group last night picked the worst possible time in a sixty-minute game to abandon controls from brain to body.
What quite clearly stings the most is the result itself. It stinks to go from a low to such a high to another low all in the space of a three-in-three weekend. Yet, there is progress being made throughout it. The defense that had been looking sloppy, turning pucks over, allowing breakaways, and making poor passes up ice that got turned over instantly – you didn’t have that last night. The defense, while put into a bend don’t break area for most of the night, did its job and did it real well.
What you scream out for now is for that offense to do what we, and they, know it is capable of doing: scoring. It hasn’t come with any consistency since that banzai 9-1 win over the Texas Stars in December. What the lack of offense speaks about more than anything is the sheer lack of balance for the Admirals at the moment. They either have offense and no defense, defense and no offense, or not enough of either to do much but fall apart. Consistency has been lacking for what feels to be nearly two and a half months. The last time the Admirals won three straight games was near the end of January – prior to that it happened in the middle of December. It has to start getting better.
I’m curious then if Wednesday might provide the cure for the Admirals. Félix Girard will make his return to Milwaukee for the first time since being traded to the Colorado Avalanche organization in exchange for Cody McLeod. Girard was a heart and soul player for the Admirals on and especially off the ice. Perhaps like any harsh break-up what the Admirals need to see is their old ex with their new partner – the San Antonio Rampage. Let it out of the system. And get on with it. At the very least the Admirals will have some reinforcements to assist on the night, too.
Comments on the comments? Could the Nashville Predators work out a trade to help out the Milwaukee Admirals much like they did three-times last season when bringing in Stephan Elliott, Patrick Mullen, and Corey Potter? Is that the sort of element to the Admirals that they need help with the most? Is Adam Pardy missed on the ice that badly or is there bigger issues at work?
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