Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I suppose we can all be thankful that the Milwaukee Admirals are back to winning ways after last night’s 3-2 shootout win over the Cleveland Monsters. It was a challenging game but one that appeared to really sharpen up the Admirals by night’s end. What’s important is to see the Admirals two game skid come to an end. Now what will be important is finding ways to build off of it moving forward this weekend.
There are many things to like about last night’s game. What stood out immediately for me was the return and impact of having the captain, Trevor Smith, back for the first time in six-games. He was put on a line alongside Harry Zolnierczyk and Bobby Butler and that line was electric throughout the game. They made the big scoring impact in the first period, yes, but they also set such a nice tone by their simple and effective approach to the game. It was hard work each shift and -boy- did the Admirals miss having Smith back in the mix. He was great whether it be winning defensive zone face-offs, jamming up passing lanes with a stick, or dishing passes off to his skilled wingers. There feels to be a big difference between the Admirals with and without Smith. Last night showed very quickly how much they have missed him in November. For him to be back winning face-offs and setting a right example for minimizing mistakes offensively and -more importantly- defensively is huge.
And then there is this fella named Anders Lindbäck. He has been so gosh darn good for the Admirals this season and last night was another polite wave as to how good he has been. The Admirals allowed forty shots on goal -or more- for the third time this season. The bulk of that damage really came early in all three periods but the consistent attack by the Monsters required Lindbäck to be sharp – instantly. The Admirals may have scored twice on their first three shots in the first period but that came after the Monsters had six shots to the Admirals none early. Lindbäck needed to be good. He was. And it was only a bad bounce on net-front traffic that made the game need overtime and then a shootout. Still, he is now up to a 2.40 goals against average and 0.922 save percentage. He’s the anchor. He has been since the season started. And now the numbers are really starting to reflect how well he has played. I’d have liked to see him get a long enough run topside to see him in action with the Nashville Predators once or twice while allowing Juuse Saros to productively play more and more. Should the two both continue trending as they have? It wouldn’t shock me much if another switcheroo takes place.
As for this month of November: 4-5-0-0 (8 points, 0.444 points percentage). I hesitate to describe this stretch as a lull because the Admirals certainly could have been better or worse off along the way. What’s important is that the twists and turns taking place are registered and learned from. This season still has -so- much left in the tank. For the Admirals to become the Calder Cup winning team we’d all love to see they need to adapt and overcome runs and stretches of form such as this. I’d rather this all be happening now – than in March.
After last night’s game I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Butler, Lindbäck, and Smith. Here were last night’s post-game interviews.
What were your thoughts on last night’s game? Was it important for the Milwaukee Admirals to battle through adversity the likes of which the Cleveland Monsters presented over the three-game series between the two teams? How important is it for the Admirals that their captain, Trevor Smith, remains healthy and can you notice the difference between the way the team performs with and without him in the lineup?
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