I suppose it is fitting for Chatterbox Vol. 187 to feature what feels like an MDK. The game last night was a rough one. “It is what it is,” was actually what I kept saying as I let last night’s 4-0 shutout loss for the Milwaukee Admirals to the Chicago Wolves sink in. No one on the team would say as much, no one one wants to use an excuse, but when you’re lacking a Vladislav Kamenev and Matt White while working in three PTO Contracts and seven defensemen it makes containing -much less defeating- a team as solid as the Wolves that much harder to do.
Mind you, that isn’t to say that there weren’t positives to take from last night’s game. At the forefront of any rough outing such as that should be the concepts that made the Admirals as exposed as they were and things that should be better handled in the transitional game as they were stuck defending most of the night. If the season ended today – the Amtrak Rivalry would be playing itself out in the opening round of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. While the roster between last night and then will change, of course, so much more needs to be done by the Admirals to make attacks more effective.
Despite having lost the contest I cannot applaud the efforts of Marek Mazanec enough. He conceded two power-play goals and one off of a stellar passing play by the AHL’s top scorer and assist leader Kenny Agostino. Beyond that? He was the reason why the Admirals had any hope of being in the game entering the third period. He was sharp from the opening puck drop and, against that offense, that was required. Mazanec saved that game from being what it was from being a massive punch to the gut.
The Admirals power-play seems to be caught up at times in passing too often and hoping for the perfect shot to evolve. When I think back to opponents that the Admirals have had this season the top that comes to mind is the Grand Rapids Griffins and their ruthlessness on the power-play to shoot, shoot, shoot, and crash to the net because they have the numbers in their favor to scrap for rebound on a power-play chance. If the back door play from the low left wing from Trevor Smith to Pontus Åberg isn’t there? The Admirals get frozen and cycle back to it later on – be it high to Alex Carrier and then down from the point to Åberg. The Admirals power-play is frozen to shots on the left wing. They need better options to make it a more complete zonal attack. Even Jack Dougherty was being thrown into the Åberg spot on the left wing circle last night and treated as such. They need variables.
Speaking of Åberg, he was doubled up on two forward lines last night in an effort to ease need for seven-defensemen. As great as he has been when you tend to overload one player’s plate, sap his energy – especially given Åberg played the night prior, it only lessens what he could be on his own tangent. What the Admirals missed the most last night was structure. With the lines in fluctuation while players are missing – that takes a big dent. What you hope for is by Tuesday night against the Rockford IceHogs on the road is that doesn’t get lessened from a two game hiccup with bodies out and then back into the mix. The Admirals seemed to just start finding a groove… it may have had a lull in the second period at times but they found ways to win even then. That group should be back together come Tuesday and that factor alone should hopefully let last night’s shutout loss be the following: it is what it is. Chin up. Eyes forward. Keep going.
After last night’s game I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then spoke with recently added Admiral Stephen Perfetto and then Adam Payerl to hear their thoughts on last night’s effort.
Comments on the comments? Are you able to chalk up last night’s game against the Chicago Wolves as a perfect storm that saw them to shutout-style victory or was there serious concern from last night that has you feeling the Milwaukee Admirals at full-strength can’t match-up against them?
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