The Milwaukee Admirals might have delivered one of their best team performances of the season in front of nearly 8,000 students this morning at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. The energy is always going to be astonishing with all of the kids screaming as though the future of Mountain Dew depended on it but really seemed to inject the Admirals right away. They would go ahead 3-0 after the first period and never look back. Desperate in attack. Desperate in defending. And another brilliant performance in net by Anders Lindbäck.
Lindbäck’s continued work for the Admirals has been such a joy to watch. His numbers may not outright suggest just how well he has been playing but today pretty much summed up the best of the best for what he’s been doing, He plays the puck extremely well and can take away a forecheck with how quickly he is moving around his net. It lessens a dump and chase game and allows the Admirals quick defense to close down at the blueline to make zone entries hell and their own defensive zone frantic as far as how to establish measured or sustained attacks. The Admirals did dabble in penalty trouble again today, including taking on a five-on-three power-play late in the third period, but it is there when Lindbäck and the defense in front of him shined the brightest. Lindbäck made outstanding saves to prevent the Wolves from cashing in on their lethal power-play and the amount of blocked shots today only helped see to it that Lindbäck was getting across the line with not just a win – but a shutout. He stopped all twenty-nine shots on goal to record his first AHL shutout since 2014 as a member of the Syracuse Crunch. Those are the only two shutouts of his AHL career.
No Trevor Smith? No Jack Dougherty? That meant the Admirals needing to operate with seven defensemen today and -dang- did all step up and do a solid job. The top defensive pairing of Alex Carrier and Jimmy Oligny always sets a great tone but whether it be Trevor Murphy or Joonas Lyytinen – all handled their side of the puck today really strong.
I couldn’t have been more impressed by the performance of Fred Allard today. He was moving so quick and doing things in the attacking zone that force me to do a double-take. In the second period he was making these crazy one-touch redirect passes from the left point to the opposite wing that were going right to the tape. He deserved to score his first pro goal today. He was brilliant.
Another player that I’ve been waiting to see get in on all of the fun has been Petter Granberg. Guess who scores a goal in his second consecutive School Day Game with the Admirals? Granberg. I can’t help but notice a speed difference in Granberg this season. He plays the game way quicker, looks more agile on his feet, and has been springing up from the blueline for pinches or -such as he did today- racing up to join the rush with the forwards. Granberg is such a force for his strength that he has always had a “stay at home defenseman” vibe to him that hasn’t seemed to make much sense in the Nashville style of their defensive group. He’s evolving. And the results are beginning to surface.
After the game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Allard, Granberg, and Lindbäck. Here is what they had to say after today’s shutout victory for the Admirals.
How impressive were the Milwaukee Admirals today given injuries and the circumstances that unfolded earlier this week? Who impressed you the most today? When Jack Dougherty does return to the lineup from injury how will the defense shake out?
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