It may have been best for me to really wait and process yesterday’s 5-4 overtime win for the Milwaukee Admirals over the Charlotte Checkers. That was one of those games where there was probably more bad than good but -hey- the Admirals somehow, someway won again. The term resiliency has been used ad nauseum when describing the Admirals this season but with great reason. The Admirals are more resilient than tardigrades.
When looking at the bad there is plenty to talk up. Let’s start with the running theme of losing the game’s opening face-off and proceeding to concede a goal in the game’s first shift. It’s a scenario which I would now like to describe as the Félix Girard effect.
It started with Girard’s return to Milwaukee on Wednesday night: he wins the face-off, the San Antonio Rampage run roughshod in attack, and Girard scores. Friday night the Checkers win the opening face-off, dominate the attacking zone, and Valentin Zykov scores. Yesterday the Checkers win the opening face-off, get the puck deep in attack, and Lucas Wallmark scores. Wednesday night: 0:57 of ice-time. Friday night: 1:21 of ice-time. Sunday evening: 0:19 of ice-time.
It’s unacceptable and it’s shocking that it could happen twice in a row much less all three-games of the homestand when the team’s task was to make playing in the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena a place of pride and something opponents would dread having to go to. They couldn’t have delivered a more wrong message in all three-games this past week in the way they started. It was bizarre.
Then there were several other goals against yesterday that didn’t make much sense in the defensive aspects for the Admirals. There were two goals scored by the Checkers in which a player was left directly camped in front of Marek Mazanec all alone for either a direct pass or a rebound. Again, it is an unacceptable and self-inflicted issue.
What stands out from every game of the homestand was that resiliency element to the Admirals. It was pretty straight forward Wednesday against the Rampage. They made the opening shift mistake but quickly accounted for it and made a statement as the game pushed forward. In the weekend games against the Checkers there were multiple occasions in which the Admirals trailed by multiple goals. Each time they fought back. And each time they fought back, equalized, and won the game.
Consistency has been lacking for a long time now. While the consistency of the last three-games may have some odd ups-and-downs there is semblance of good things to come with the Admirals willingness to battle, fighting back, and earning the positive results late. The true tough times are ahead of the Admirals and they need to start leveling out their mistakes and getting on the form that they can compete at late in games for a full sixty-minutes.
It shouldn’t be a fun thing to say “we’re losing 3-1, we’ve got them right where we want them” as was the case Friday and Sunday. If the resiliency of the Admirals can simply lend itself to a direct and simplified approach in the opening period it would be great seeing the team act from the front rather than be the ones chasing. It worked this week. It shouldn’t really be an expected way to haul in points.
A dash of good news for the Admirals is that the week ahead for them now is a bit more relaxed than it has recently. The team does not play again until Friday and Saturday this week but they will be doing it on the road against the Central Division leading Grand Rapids Griffins. The Van Andel Arena hasn’t been kind to the Admirals. The Griffins have been playing lights-out lately. The week ahead should give the Admirals rest and serious look at themselves and the opponent they want to knock-off the top step. The resiliency of a tardigrade is good. Never needing it in the first place is the next step.
After last night’s game I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Frédérick Gaudreau, Derek Army, and Andrew O’Brien. I was lucky to get to do the interviews alongside Rick Braun of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who enjoyed his first Admirals game at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena since covering a game back in October of 1986. I could have heard Rick’s stories all night. It was great. Here were the interviews the two of us had.
Comments on the comments? Where do you stand with the Milwaukee Admirals 2016-17 season at the moment: is this team capable of great things or are they going to keep on stumbling around? If the Admirals go into Grand Rapids this coming weekend and knock off the Griffins twice would that be the sort of boost that the team needs to get on a truly big push?
Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.