I had two ideas of how last night’s game was going to go for the Milwaukee Admirals. Either all of those alterations made around the NHL Trade Deadline were going to have a great impact and boost the team or it would be more of the same. I can’t even say either of those two completely happened but what did happen was one of the strangest games that the Admirals may have played – ever. And it can be backed up statistically.
Last night the Admirals defeated the Rockford IceHogs by a final score of 4-1. They registered their tenth shot on goal with 5:07 remaining in regulation on a goal scored by Fred Allard and proceeded to unleash a further two goals in the following 3:36 of ice time. By game’s end the Admirals were held to just twelve shots on goal for an entire game. It is those late shots that became goals that was the difference between last night’s game and the Admirals all-time record for futility in which they completed a game with only nine shots on goal back on 12/12/87 in the IHL. Without going through a lot of dust and old record books on the Admirals? That is quite possibly the fewest amount of shots on goal in an Admirals win in franchise history.
What is so incredibly strange though: that wasn’t really a bad performance by the Admirals. They set a season low for shots in a period with only two shots registered in the first period last night. Emil Pettersson scored a power-play goal 1:29 into the game on the Admirals first shot. They would only see one more after that and I couldn’t even begin to figure out when that one came. But, I can’t say the Admirals opening period was rough at all. Their pace and defending was excellent. It felt like they had far more offensive opportunities in that first frame than the shots produced suggested.
It is the second period where things took a sour turn. The Admirals were guilty of five different penalties in the second period alone. It sapped the Admirals energy, it pinned them deep during a period of the long change, and prevented them from getting a rhythm. The IceHogs lone goal of the night came from a power-play following a brief five-on-three stint that they were able to generate on the back half of the lengthy man-advantage opportunity. Even then, it was a puck scramble in front of the net where Jack Dougherty‘s clear away from the crease simply batted right towards Cody Franson as though it was a one-timer. That is all that the IceHogs had last night. That was it. That power-play goal off of that extended power-play run.
This is where I believe the true highlight of last night’s game should be. Ignore the lack of shots by the Admirals for a moment and appreciate the level of composure displayed by the Admirals. Things weren’t going there way. Things haven’t been going their way really often this season. Yet, no one panicked when the offense wasn’t clicking and they needed to rely on Anders Lindbäck and solid defending in order to wait out a storm until that fire started. The Admirals ended last night’s game with three goals on three shots.. two of which featured Jeff Glass in net.. but the manner of how those goals were scored were no flukes. Even the empty netter required great speed, skill, and strength on the part of Mark McNeill to score.
For Lindbäck and that Admirals defense? Last night was terrific effort and showed a nice leap forward in the way you hoped they would show after the overhaul that took place. Sure, the offense had its woes but it also showed its strengths in the opening and closing five minutes of the contest. With so many new players adjusting to a new team and systems all while those on the roster adapt to these new players: it was always going to be a process that first game out. That opening game outside of the NHL Trade Deadline showed an Admirals team that could still use a bit of time to gel -but- that they could win even when it doesn’t. That’s big. And I very much look forward to how the rest of this weekend is going to play out as familiarity becomes way better for all involved.
After last night’s game I had the chance to catch up with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. I then spoke with Allard, Pettersson, and Lindbäck. These were last night’s post-game comments from the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
What did you make of the Milwaukee Admirals win last night? Are you concerned by the lack of shots or was that really just an oddity as far as games go? How did you feel the new look Admirals played?
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