It finally happened. The Milwaukee Admirals lost a game in the shootout. They had been perfect in their first six opportunities and their typical aces to open up the first two rounds of the shootout were near perfect. Justin Kirkland had been 5/5 in shootout attempts. Frédérick Gaudreau was 3/4. And it all took a small step back. There should be good credit given to the San Antonio Rampage who did take the 5-4 shootout win for their play from the second period to the finish. Overall, this game is just slightly numb. Nothing overly great but certainly nothing that bad.
If there were to be a criticism of the Admirals last night it comes with their second period. It’s become a problem area of late but frankly an issue all season. The Admirals have been outshot by their opponents 593-483 and outscored 58-41 in the second period in 2017-18. Heck, against the Rampage alone the past few days the Admirals were outscored 6-2 in the second period. That’s the difference between the Admirals taking regulation wins versus an overtime win and a shootout loss.
Still, I do think credit is deserved for the Rampage in both games. They play a very similar style game to the Admirals. They have speed, strength, and skill across the full lineup. Much like the Admirals, the Rampage really have to start playing desperately if they want to make a run for the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs. Both are in “chase” mode and that desperation showed in some really tightly played hockey across the two games played. It’s crazy to think that this was playoff style intense hockey between two teams that are still on the outside looking in for the playoff picture. There will be some really good teams missing out this season in the Western Conference.
While the Admirals captain Trevor Smith has certainly been leading from the front a man who had been quietly was Frédérick Gaudreau. You must shift to past tense because after back-to-back multi-goal games it is hard to say it’s quiet anymore. Gaudreau was having a lesser season than a year ago. He doesn’t quite have that one-two punch in Milwaukee with Pontus Åberg this season. Yet, Gaudreau was still doing lots of quality defensive plays and positive things on offense. Now the numbers are starting to shoot off in a big way. Gaudreau has scored 9 points (7 goals, 2 assists) in the Admirals last 8 games. It isn’t so much looking for one person to fill that Bobby Butler role I think it is more that everyone is looking to step up as individuals for the benefit of the team as a whole. Gaudreau has all the ability in the world and showed that at a crazy capacity a season ago. He’s starting to return to that level once again.
The Admirals have today off and will return to practice on Friday at the MSOE Kern Center. Then they get to see the Texas Stars for the first time this season on a 1:00 PM CST tilt on Saturday. I’m expecting the Admirals to finish this homestand off strongly. It in some ways needs to be used in preparation for the Central Division leading Manitoba Moose who they will face twice on the start of a four-game road trip starting on Monday at 2:00 PM CST. The Admirals will be in a real fight to earn points then and there. They need to keep making good on earning points on home ice if they are to continue making a run for the playoffs.
After last night’s game I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then caught up with Justin Kirkland and Derek Army to get their thoughts on the shootout loss to the Rampage and the look ahead to the weekend. These were last night’s post-game interviews at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
What are your final thoughts on last night’s game? Are you satisfied with the Milwaukee Admirals claiming a point from that game? Can you chalk that game up to the San Antonio Rampage just being the more desperate team within regulation?
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