The momentum swings of this 2017-18 season have been pretty violent. There have been so many ups-and-downs that it can be hard to appreciate a good string of games at times because it feels like the eventual fall is right around the corner. The Milwaukee Admirals, after having lost six straight games, are now on a three-game winning streak and looking to sweep a three-in-three for the first time since the first three games of November in the 2015-16 season.
What I appreciated out of the Admirals 5-4 overtime win over the San Antonio Rampage last night were two key elements.
Firstly, the Admirals defense in the first period played so darn fast that it was incredible that the Rampage even had one or two quality scoring chances at all. The puck was almost never in the Admirals defensive zone for that opening twenty minutes. The pucks crept in. The pucks flew back out. The Admirals, much like they did against the Manitoba Moose on Tuesday night to get this winning streak started, forced the Rampage last night to play the length of the ice to get their attack started. It is a grinding way to play a sixty minute contest and one that the Admirals are starting to impose.
Secondly, things weren’t all like the first period – at all. The Admirals right now are being snakebitten by the second period and it is a trend that feels as though it dates back a few seasons now. Their opponent pins the puck deep and manages to use what should be the period of the long change to their advantage by continuously switching out bodies and draining the Admirals defense with wave upon wave of pressure. The Admirals in this case are the ones that need to fight through the length of the ice – and that’s just to get a change much less get offense going. Where the highlight comes is when the Admirals make a mistake through Joonas Lyytinen, and give up a goal, only to see Fred Allard score 32 seconds later. That resiliency is what would turn its head right at the end of the game when the Admirals went empty net and extra attacker for the final 1:24 of regulation. The Admirals certainly loaded up for a one-timer countless times but the puck movement along the way showed real composure to not take a bad shot that would get blocked down, cleared, or worse – end up in the empty net. Instead, the Admirals kept looking for a clean shot on Spencer Martin and ultimately had one that saw the puck pop up and Trevor Smith bat it home with 9.4 seconds remaining in regulation. Resiliency. That is what the Admirals displayed best tonight and that is an attribute that hasn’t always shined through in the 2017-18 season as it has in year’s past. That should be exciting to see if that continues -or- at the very least propels the team into not having to be resilient in the first place.
And then comes the matter of bounces or calls simply going the Admirals way for once. That equalizing goal for the Admirals captain was an amazing moment. The crowd exploded. The team erupted in joy. Yet, moments before the shot it looked like the Admirals got away with an interference or a holding call -and- then the mid-air swing for overtime glory by Smith was ridiculously close to being above the crossbar. Needless to say: the Rampage had reason(s) by be upset. What still has to be said, out of experience, how often have the Admirals endured bad calls such as that and moments in which instant replay on moments like that could have changed things? Answer: too many. Part of this game at times is dumb luck and a dash of human error. That all happened on that equalizing goal. The Admirals then were opportunistic enough to take the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the San Antonio Rampage bench and use it to win in overtime with a four-on-three power-play goal.
The Admirals get a chance once again in today’s game to focus back on themselves, keep refining, and evolving. They don’t see the Stockton Heat often and will likely get some semblance of a gameplan based on video -but- the key area for the game is on what the Admirals are doing, have been doing right, and gradually erasing those shoot self in foot mistakes. They still aren’t without those in this winning streak. If the Admirals can get a good start and then a strong second period? That’s the exclamation point on a weekend and should bode well in the result.
After last night’s game there was a ton of chaos around the locker room area as the Joan Jett concert was getting organized. Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason was nowhere to be found -and- we wanted to keep things short and sweet before all the loud happened anyways. That meant chatting with last night’s overtime hero had to do. This is what Alex Carrier had to say following the Admirals thrilling overtime win against the Rampage.
What were your thoughts on last night’s game? Can the Milwaukee Admirals complete the weekend sweep? Do you see a different style of hockey from the Admirals without Bobby Butler? How has the defense looked in recent games?
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