Is it just the Grand Rapids Griffins? Is it just the running theme of the 2017-18 season? The Milwaukee Admirals 4-2 loss last night is the sort that just leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It’s not that the Admirals were necessarily bad for any great length of time but -when they were- it was game altering. Up. Down. Repeat. That might be the only true consistency of the Admirals season to date.
When reviewing all the goals allowed by the Admirals last night you will be hard pressed to find something the Griffins really had to work hard for.
The first goal? Anders Lindbäck had a really soft backhand pass intended for Jimmy Oligny that ended up being intercepted by Evgeny Svechnikov with Axel Holmström already on the doorstep for a two-on-naught attack. The second goal? The Admirals allow Vili Saarijärvi acres of space to shoot while then allowing the Griffins to motor in three players around the crease for a rebound. The third goal? Derek Army wins a defensive zone face-off back to Petter Granberg who then gets checked by Trevor Murphy off the puck and right to Corey Elkins to score on a wrap-around. The fourth goal? The Admirals commit four players below the face-off dots in their attacking zone on a failed offensive push that triggers an odd-man rush that ends in a two-on-one.
These are all kinds of breakdowns the likes of which you would hope wouldn’t trickle over from Training Camp into the Regular Season – much less the start of the fourth month of a hockey season. This has now gone on long enough that I fail to exactly see it as sharper teams coming up against the Admirals and forcing them into mistakes. This is just the Admirals of 2017-18. This is going to be a grind of a learning process for all involved.
The Admirals are nearly at the midway point of this season. They have a record of 16-13-4-0 (36 points, 0.545 points percentage). They are now fifth in the Central Division and eleventh overall in the Western Conference standings. The path to reaching the 2018 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs can still feel far, far away but the closest form the Admirals have had to make me think this is a team that could pull off a Calder Cup this season was back in October. And since the Admirals opened up the season winning four-straight games in regulation they have won regulation games consecutively on only one occasion – the last road trip in Cleveland (12/22–23). Meanwhile they have lost regulation games consecutively three times in that same span.
What I hope for is that this is a mostly young Admirals team that needs these harsh learning points in order to grow into the best possible version of itself. We might not have even seen what this team is capable of on its best night yet. I like to hope that is the case. As for the constant of up-down, up-down? It is wearing that hope out.
Any final thoughts on last night’s game? Are there any concerns for you -at this stage- that the Milwaukee Admirals could miss this year’s playoffs? What changes have to be made to start righting this ship?
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