This morning marked Day 2 of on-ice activities from Centennial Sportsplex for the 2017 Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp. After getting first impressions out of the way yesterday today’s skate marked a better look from the group as jitters, rust, and familiarity all start to get worked out.
Yet, before the practice today went into full swing, a big talking point of the morning was seeing Kevin Fiala back on the ice and participating in lots of skating and shooting drills. To put it bluntly: it is shocking that he broke his femur two months ago and is where he is in his rehabilitation process.
Today was the first day of 2017 Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp. The group participated in on-ice activities this afternoon at the Centennial Sportsplex and the full roster for the week’s festivities became that much clearer as it was split into two teams.
There is one last item here at Admirals Roundtable that needs to be addressed before we officially close the books on the 2016-17 season. It is always my goal to provide a comprehensive coverage of the Milwaukee Admirals behind the scenes. With so many practice held on home ice at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena I am certain this was our biggest year yet on Chatterbox.
It’s been a fun season chatting away with the Admirals. This was a special group of people and they were always a pleasure to talk to. In addition, fan requests this season provided a lot of timely conversations and entertaining questions. For that: thanks for your feedback and suggestions!
You can listen along to the best of Chatterbox in our SoundCloud playlist below. There are quite a few gems so feel free to reminisce the 2016-17 Admirals season at your leisure. Where shall I mark the starting point? Let’s venture back to Juuse Saros acknowledged the Milwaukee media depth at 2016 Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp.
Cheers to all members of the Milwaukee Admirals this past season for providing the time to do all of these interviews. In addition, the Nashville Predators who did much the same this season as well.
There was a distinct voice missing from our “Exit Day” edition of Chatterbox: Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason. Much like the “Black Aces” Evason has also been up with the Nashville Predators during their current run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And today he was available for media availability back at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena.
In addition, we also had the opportunity to catch up with Milwaukee Admirals President Jon Greenberg who discussed everything from Year One for the organization playing in the Arena to the -other- Admirals now representing the pipeline in Norfolk.
The sad times keep on rolling as today is Exit Day for the Milwaukee Admirals. This is the last time that the 2016-17 team will be together and everyone is getting exit interviews with the coaching staff and much more to reflect on the past season before dispatching. Some are due for Nashville. Some are heading home but still back next season. And most could be on the way to new phases of their careers.
There is a very good case in most interviews conducted by myself today that I make mention that this is the saddest day of the season and that what made this season so great were the people associated with it. It all comes to light on a day like today when everyone is saying their goodbyes with uncertainty in the air. I feel like if this group had the option to stay together and win together next season they would all want to be back. I’m not sure I have ever seen a more tightly knitted Admirals group.
I put word out yesterday on Twitter to try and get fan feedback on who everyone would like to hear from on Exit Day. I tried to get as many as I possibly could with the 2016-17 group and finished off with a solid sixteen interviews. It is a massive listen but you can scan one-by-one the names of everyone I had the chance to speak with today. I tried to get them all. And that included Vladislav Kamenev – who obliged.
The Milwaukee Admirals 3-2 defeat in overtime last night on home ice against the Grand Rapids Griffins is a difficult one to take on many levels. It ends the 2016-17 season on an all to familiar note here with the Admirals but also one that stinks of last season when the Griffins got the better of an Admirals group that could have displayed that little bit more that they know they can show.
Above all, and what sticks with me, is that this year’s Admirals team was a special one from the beginning. It gelled immediately. There was this wonderful blending of veteran leadership, high level skill, size and grit, players on the cusp of being NHL talent, and prospects that came more and more into their own. Beyond all of that: this was a Milwaukee Admirals team filled with tremendous people.
I want to say, in my four seasons here on Admirals Roundtable, going into the locker room after that loss and seeing the team is the most difficult thing I’ve had to see. They were heartbroken. They knew this year’s team deserved better than what it had just been dealt. All the individual stories. All the ups-and-downs as individuals. The team coming together and battling for seven months. Gone. It all stopped in its place after a best of five series in three games.
A lot can be said of the Admirals playoff track record. Their last victory in the playoffs came four-years ago today when the Admirals defeated the Texas Stars 2-0 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center with Magnus Hellberg earning a 23-save shutout. The Admirals would lose the next two games of that series to be eliminated from the 2013 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. Ever since? The Admirals were swept by the Toronto Marlies in 2014. They failed to make the playoffs in 2015. They were swept by the Griffins in 2016. And have been swept -again- by the Griffins in 2017. The Admirals have lost eleven consecutive playoff games – and that will carry into their next playoff series in the future with a chance to become even uglier.
What I very much hope that fans realize is the big picture that comes with AHL hockey and the Milwaukee Admirals. Would it be nice for the players, the coaching staff, and the fans to celebrate a Calder Cup? Absolutely. Is that the grandest prize of them all to win? No, but the AHL being a league of constant learning and development affords the opportunity to gear players and coaches alike towards an eventual end goal of being Stanley Cup caliber talent. Every season is different. Every series is different. And every game played is different. With these playoff losses and early exits come disappointment but also opportunity to learn and to grow. The Admirals may not have much to show for the immense amount of work that they’ve put in these last few seasons but all you need to do is look at the Nashville Predators to know that the Admirals are very much not failing in their mission of preparing players for the NHL futures they aspire for.
This third straight playoff exit by way of being swept? It sucks. It hurts. And it’s a shame when asking the “what if” of it all. But the platform for future success is there. The Predators and Admirals are joined at the hip for a further five-seasons. What the organization is doing is striving for the future. It’s built for the future and starving for top to bottom success in the years to come. The Predators haven’t won a Stanley Cup in their history as a franchise yet. The Admirals haven’t won a Calder Cup since 2004. The reason for optimism that both can change that in the coming years far outweighs the thought that both will continue to be stuck in place. The Admirals being eliminated in the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs could be a factor in helping both accomplish just that. There are lessons to be learned from many because of it. And the experience is important.
The Milwaukee Admirals returned to practice and the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena this morning ahead of Game 3 tomorrow night against the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Admirals are up against the sword right now trailing 2-0 in the best-of-five opening round series and are hoping to fight back on home ice.
There were quite a few changes in the lines this morning. Tyler Moy appears to be out with Stephen Perfetto checking in. Moy skated the full practice and an additional skate-around long after practice completed alongside Tyler Kelleher who only skated in that session. Kelleher was the lone odd-man out in today’s main session as Andrew O’Brien did a full skate with the team alongside Rick Pinkston.
Above all, what I was hoping to see today I did catch. This Admirals group does not look deflated or downtrodden. They looked loose, revved up, and ready to go. There have been times in the past when I’ve seen an Admirals team look like the life was sucked out of them when going down 2-0. That is not the case right now and their focus is firmly set on a step-by-step basis. That first period tomorrow night should say a lot for how the rest of the game will go. The Admirals are looking to come out hard to set a tone.
After practice was completed I had the opportunity to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason to get his insight into the series and what to expect out of the group tomorrow night. I also chatted with Trevor Smith, Jack Dougherty, Mike Liambas, and Cody Bass to get their thoughts on the games in Grand Rapids and tomorrow’s crucial Game 3.
Comments on the comments? Is this Milwaukee Admirals team capable of coming all the way back from 2-0 down against the Grand Rapids Griffins?
Today was Media Day with the Milwaukee Admirals ahead of the start of the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. It provided a nice glimpse into just what to expect when the team battles the Grand Rapids Griffins in the opening round which begins with Game 1 on Friday night at 6:00 PM CDT at the Van Andel Arena.
It was certainly all hands on deck. It feels like there hasn’t been this many bodies around since Training Camp and that isn’t limited to the players, either. The Admirals’ coaching staff was joined by Scott Nichol and Wade Redden of the Nashville Predators.
Prior to practice both Andrew O’Brien and Tyler Kelleher did skate on their own as they work their way back from injury. Jimmy Oligny is back around the team following his season ending surgery to lend support. And Cody Bass is continuing to progress very nicely and practiced with the team today while wearing a red “no contact” jersey. Bass managed to win the the shootout drill to end practice.
Everything else shapes out to look very much as structured as it did in the two games against the Rockford IceHogs last week. There shouldn’t be too many surprises for the lineup when it comes time for puck drop Friday night in Grand Rapids. As for the game itself? There is a load of anticipation to get playoff hockey started.
Comments on the comments? Do you feel like the Milwaukee Admirals road success could lend well for a good start in this opening round series? What do you think is the key to shutting down the Grand Rapids Griffins in this series?
The 2016-17 AHL Regular Season has been completed and the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs are now officially set. Perhaps it was meant to be that on the final day of the regular season that the four teams out of the AHL’s Central Division would all be playing against their prospective opening round opponents.
The Milwaukee Admirals lost 5-1 at home to the Grand Rapids Griffins which meant that the Chicago Wolves needed to win their home game against the Charlotte Checkers to take the divisional crown. The Checkers were in the driver’s seat of that game. The Cleveland Monsters needed the Checkers to lose in regulation last night to sneak into the playoff picture. In the end, the Wolves rallied back in the third period by scoring twice to force overtime where they would win 4-3.
I could talk at good length specifically about the Admirals game last night but I actually feel there isn’t too much that should be said given how the two teams approached the game. The Griffins played like a team that wanted to win the Central Division crown. The Admirals played like a team that was rotating pieces in and trying to be structured and as aggressive as that particular lineup could be. Honestly, the scoreline to me didn’t reflect the way the Admirals played. The Admirals did play a really good game last night. There were just some unfortunate moments and power-play goals allowed while their own power-play met the buzz-saw of Eddie Pasquale and friends. It’s a tough loss as a result. It was a great test for numerous individuals that participated though and that’s a great piece of education for them to have now that these teams know they are matched up in the first round of the playoffs.
The bottom line for me, and something I most want to casually remind fans who view last night’s game and now the opening round playoff series with dread, there is far more to be optimistic about with this current Admirals team right now than there ever was for last season’s opening round series against the Griffins.
What you have right now is an Admirals team that since February has been fine tuning itself for this exact time of the season and getting new pieces to fit in and to look and play the part. Everyone is looking far better now than they were in February and the style of play through March and into April is the brand of hockey that is needed to have playoff success. And, what is exciting, they now know for sure that it is the Griffins standing in their way and they have an opportunity at redemption for last year’s playoffs while also stamping down a tense rivalry that has surfaced throughout this season.
The Admirals and Griffins match-up so well. They’re loaded with depth, skill, speed, and strength. If there is any area that gets me to hesitate or grit my teeth with how this series could go it is the gamesmanship of the Griffins during the run of play or after whistles that gets under the Admirals skin at times and forces them to become flustered. The Admirals need to simply shut that out and shut the Griffins up with their own style of play and focus on their own game. When the Admirals stay within themselves and operate at five-on-five they had the Griffins stride for stride last night with a group of players that won’t all be factoring into the opening round series. The Admirals are in a series that they can very much win and win without an added trip to the Van Andel Arena.
I will have a far more extensive playoff preview in the mid-week as we all get ready for the 2017 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs to start up. What you can get down on your calendars right now is this. The Admirals already have their full playoff schedule for the opening round ready.
After last night’s game completed I spoke with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Frédérick Gaudreau, Jack Dougherty, and Tyler Moy. These were the post-game comments which all came as the Wolves and Checkers were in the second intermission last night and all of us where in the dark as far as who the exact opponent was going to be in the playoffs.
Comments on the comments? How are your nerves after last night’s game? Can the Milwaukee Admirals do what they didn’t last year against the Grand Rapids Griffins in Round 1?
Once the Milwaukee Admirals really wrapped up their playoff position I’m not sure there was anything else to play for other than to get all players on the same page playing very composed, mature, and smart playoff style hockey to close out the regular season. The last two games for the Admirals against the Rockford IceHogs have shown just that and has featured some of the younger more unproven pro debutants starting to get a handle of the pro game.
In the Admirals 6-2 victory last night you really couldn’t help but appreciate the heads up work of Tyler Moy. The Admirals have placed him on a very nice line with Trevor Smith and Matt White to help him adjust as quickly as possible but the maturity of Moy to come in and work in Pontus Åberg‘s spot is impressive. Moy looked much more comfortable on the ice and appeared to be direct in his approach to the game. It allowed for him and those around him on the ice to have success.
Samuel Girard‘s first pro goal may not have been as flashy as say Yakov Trenin‘s but it still showed great intelligence, skill, and poise for him to be where he was on the ice to score off of a defender’s skate. Mike Ribeiro‘s pass for him was perfect -but- Girard reading the ice to see he could cheat down the left wing as the IceHogs were puck watching, be comfortable enough with his own speed that if the Ribeiro pass was off that he could loop back and defend with his speed, or even once he did get the pass the patience to hold the puck en route to the net to freeze defenders around him to create space on net – all of it. It was a smart and savvy play from an eighteen-year old defenseman in just his fifth professional hockey game.
Speaking of intelligence, or lack thereof, let’s chat about that awkward delay that started the game and then saw former-Admiral Michael Latta leave so abruptly. The short and sweet of it is that IceHogs head coach Ted Dent is an ignoramus. The more expansive explanation is that Latta was suited up and playing but was not on the IceHogs lineup card given to the officials prior to the game which Dent signs off on. You know who was on that lineup card though? #13, Anthony Louis – twice. You can view the lineup sheet right here. It’s as if when writing it up Dent got to the end, counted he was a player short, didn’t bother to read who was missing, and guessed Louis and penciled him down as the final player on the lineup. How that man was given an extension I will never know – but golly is it joyous he is on an opposing team within the Admirals division!
Another player that really impressed me last night was Justin Kirkland. I feel like that might have been the best he has looked this season. It always helps when there are certain lines that stick together and Kirkland’s work on the wing with Vladislav Kamenev and Adam Payerl has been great. That whole line meshes together very nicely. Kirkland’s pace and work rate last night were really fun to watch. Him getting the goal that he did was sort of “right time, right place” but he still worked himself into the right spot and finished. For the Admirals to be a serious playoff threat their team depth is what is going to need to put them over the top. Kirkland coming into his own at this point in the season could be a great thing for the playoff run.
And a final note. The announcement made prior to the game in which the Nashville Predators have extended their affiliation agreement with the Admirals for five-years is rather special all on its own. I’m not sure how many take for granted just how special that relationship or having an NHL/AHL partnership last as long as the Predators and Admirals have been together actually is. AHL teams, and ECHL teams for that matter, often come and go. Most tend to switch around NHL affiliates and last out but plenty bite the dust and are either never heard of again or take years to rise from the ashes under some form of new ownership. We’ll never truly know just how close the Admirals were in the last year or so to potentially being lost but the move to the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena and now this long-term affiliation agreement make things extremely clear until 2022. Milwaukee has a pro hockey team. And the road to Nashville is still the end goal.
After last night’s game finished I had the chance to speak with Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason as well as Girard, Kirkland, and Moy. These were last night’s post-game comments.
Comments on the comments? Are you excited about the Predators and Admirals continuing to build together? What are you making of the current setup for the Admirals heading into the playoffs as these youngsters start to get more and more acclimated to the pro game?