Tag: Blake Geoffrion

Geoffrion’s Big Night in Buffalo

It might be time for Admirals fans to start facing the facts.  Forward Blake Geoffrion may not be coming back to Milwaukee.

Through his first nine National Hockey League games Geoffrion was slowly finding his footing, scoring three goals and four points while logging the fewest minutes of any Nashville player.

Then came Sunday’s game at Buffalo.  Despite pocketing goal number four in the first period off a lucky deflection, Geoffrion and the Predators trailed Buffalo 3-1 with under three minutes remaining in the third period.  Yet, Nashville coach Barry Trotz continued to show confidence in the 2010 Hobey Baker winner.

At the 17:33 mark, Geoffrion stuffed in his own rebound past goaltender Ryan Miller to make it 3-2.  One minute later Trotz again put Geoffrion out for a crucial face off, which Geoffrion won back to defenseman Cody Franson.  Franson let a point shot blast go that Geoffrion tipped out of the air and past Miller to give the Brentwood, Tennessee native his first NHL hat trick and more importantly, tie hockey game at 3-3.

To add some icing to the cake, former Admiral forward Martin Erat scored the game-winner 27 seconds into overtime to give Nashville an improbable win at a crucial point in the year.  With the two points the Predators are back in the playoffs, tied with Chicago and Los Angeles for the fifth spot in the West with 86.

“Obviously we needed those points with the playoff race going on,” Geoffrion told NHL Live! Monday afternoon.  “We’re just happy to get the two wins (against Buffalo and Detroit) and come back home to Nashville.”

Geoffrion credits his time in Milwaukee for preparing him to be an impact player in the NHL.

“The Predators’ theory is that the road to Nashville is through Milwaukee,” Geoffrion said. “I am very thankful for the coaches and the people who’ve helped me get to this point in my career (playing in Nashville).  Hopefully I won’t let them down.”

To watch Blake Geoffrion’s highlight reel against Buffalo, click here.

To read my feature on the impact that former Admirals players like Blake Geoffrion are having in the NHL with Nashville and with other teams, click here.

To read my story on Geoffrion and other former Wisconsin Badgers who changed teams around the NHL trading deadline, click here.

Blake Geoffrion in Nashville Update

Blake Geoffrion was a healthy scratch for the first time in his brief NHL career last night against the San Jose Sharks.

I am not sure what exactly that means for Geoffrion’s time in the Music City, but in this case I believe it had to do more with Nashville’s opponent San Jose (one of the NHL’s fastest teams) than coach Barry Trotz tweaking with his lineup.

In five games of action so far in Nashville, Geoffrion has two goals, while playing an average of 7:58 of icetime.  Geoffrion’s first goal came off of a feed from fellow ex-Badger Ryan Suter.  Two nights later Geoffrion scored his team’s game winner in a 3-0 victory over the Western Conference’s top team, Vancouver.

“Its been a dream come true playing in the National Hockey League,” Geoffrion said. “Now that I’m here my new goal is to try to stay here as long as I can, whether that’s 10 games or 10 years.”

For more on Geoffrion’s time in Nashville, check out my feature on Madison.com, which includes the stories of other former and current UW players that were moved around the trade deadline.

Later this week I will also have a feature on Milwaukeeadmirals.com on the stories of former Admirals who are now enjoying successful careers in the National Hockey League, including Suter, Shea Weber, Colin Wilson and Sheldon Brookbank of the Anaheim Ducks.

Grant Lewis Sparks Milwaukee’s 6-1 Victory Over Oklahoma City

Remember those early season troubles with Oklahoma City?  Consider them a thing of the past.

Grant Lewis carried the day for Milwaukee, racking up a three point night as the Admirals completely shut down the Barons with a 6-1 victory Wednesday’s night.

Things didn’t look good for Milwaukee in the early going as Oklahoma City center Milan Kytnar opened the scoring just 1:29 in.  But the Barons got into penalty trouble from that point forward and Lewis took over.

First Lewis helped setup Gabriel Bourque’s power play goal five minutes in.  Then in the final minute of the first period, Lewis doubled his goal total with a power play tally.  52 seconds later Ryan Flynn picked up the back breaker for the Admirals, giving Milwaukee a 3-1 lead with just five seconds left in the opening stanza.

Milwaukee added three more goals in the second period for the final margin of victory.  First it was Ryan Thang, then Lewis scored his second of the game, and finally Andreas Thuresson closed out the scoring.  The Admirals coasted home from there with a rather uneventful third period.

After a rough first AHL start in Milwaukee on Tuesday, goaltender Anders Lindback had a solid night in between the pipes for the Admirals, stopping 32 of 33 shots.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee lit up longtime NHL netminder Martin Gerber with four goals on just 17 shots, before chasing him out of the net in the second period.

Tonight marked the Admirals first action against the Barons with Zack Stortini in the line up, but the heavy weight goon was quiet against Milwaukee.  Stortini picked up just one minor penalty for tripping late in the first period.  However, that penalty resulted in the Admirals’ second goal.

Along with Lewis, Milwaukee got multi-point nights from Roman Josi (2 assists), Blake Geoffrion (2 assists), Ryan Thang (1 goal, 1 assist) and Gabriel Bourque (1 goal, 1 assist).

No Linus Klasen in the line up proved no problem for the Admirals offensively on this two-game southern swing.  Milwaukee racked up 11 goals in the back to back games.

With the win the Admirals actually gained some separation in the Western Conference race.  Milwaukee moved up to 75 points on the season, which is four in front of second place Peoria.

The Admirals return home Friday for another clash with the Chicago Wolves.  It is Milwaukee’s only home game in their next five contests.

So Roundtable, what do you think of the outstanding night from Grant Lewis?  Could he a be a solution to Milwaukee’s power play struggles, or was tonight’s effort just a fluke?

Blake Geoffrion Repeats Player of the Week Honors

Looks like there is more hardware on the way for Blake Geoffrion.

The Milwaukee rookie picked up his second straight Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Award this morning.

Clearly deserving, Blake has been tearing up the offense as of late for Milwaukee.  What is more impressive, Geoffrion became the first player in 16 years to win the honor in consecutive weeks.

Congrats to Blake and congrats to the Packers for a memorable night in Dallas.

Today like everyday, is a great day to be in Wisconsin and a great day for hockey.

Geoffrion Named AHL Player of the Week

Congratulations are in order for Milwaukee Admirals forward Blake Geoffrion, who earned this week’s Reebok/AHL Player of the Week Award.  The Brentwood, Tennessee native is fully deserving the honor having piled up six points (three goals and three assists) in this past weekend’s games.

After a slow start adjusting to the speed of the AHL and dealing with some lingering injury issues, Geoffrion’s play has really taken off in recent weeks.   The rookie is now up to third on the team in scoring with 25 points, trailing just Jonathon Blum and Linus Klasen.

The award could not have come at a better time for Geoffrion as the Admirals are unveiling a big night in his honor Friday against the Rockford Ice Hogs.  Milwaukee is wearing Red/White Badger-like jerseys for the contest, complete with the angled script.

That’s not to mention the Blake Geoffrion bobble head that will be passed out to fans.

I wonder what Blake prefers?  A bobble head in his honor, or the little glass trophy from the AHL that he will get to skate off with Friday evening?

Five Observations from this Weekend’s Games

1) Blake Geoffrion spoiled two Badger homecomings.

This weekend’s games at the Bradley Center represented a Badger state reunion for two ex-University of Wisconsin defensemen, Josh Engel of the Toronto Marlies and Kyle Klubertanz of the Hamilton Bulldogs.  Engel who hails from Rice Lake and Sun Prairie native Klubertanz each had significant cheering sections in Milwaukee.

But both player’s homecomings got overshadowed by the play of their former UW teammate, Admirals forward Blake Geoffrion.  All Geoffrion did this weekend was score a shorthanded, game-winning goal against Hamilton and deliver one of the checks of the year against Toronto forward Nazem Kadri.

(Extra Note:  I hate to say this but I was quite impressed by Josh Engel on Saturday night.  I never really thought much of him as a player with Wisconsin, but he has developed into a pretty solid contributor with the Marlies)

2) Good things happen when you go to the net.

Less than 24 hours after getting shutout through 65 minutes of hockey against the Marlies, Milwaukee played a much more aggressive offensive game against Hamilton, making life difficult on NHL veteran goaltender Curtis Sanford.  The Admirals got rewarded with a pair of redirection goals in the first period.  Sanford saw heavy traffic in front of the net throughout the contest as Milwaukee worked to take away his eyes.

3) The Admirals power play remains a work in progress.

Even with Linus Klasen back in the lineup this weekend at the Bradley Center, Milwaukee’s power play left little to be desired.  During a minute of five-on-three advantage in the third period Saturday night, Klasen saw a pair of passes hop over his stick.  Against Hamilton, the Admirals had trouble just getting the puck into the zone on their first couple of opportunities.  Expect plenty of special teams work in practice for Lambert’s crew this week.

4) Jamie Lundmark will be missed, but not for long.

Along with the unexpected call up of Andreas Thuresson, this weekend the Admirals faced the surprising departure of Jamie Lundmark.  Lundmark quit on Milwaukee in order to pursue playing options in Europe.  The veteran of 295 NHL games, Lundmark accumulated 18 points with the Admirals this season.  Milwaukee struggled without his offensive presence on Saturday night, but with a few days of practice upcoming this week, the Admirals should move on a little easier without him by the weekend.

5) It wasn’t pretty, but Milwaukee racked up some big league points.

Saturday and Sunday might not have been the prettiest two games Milwaukee played, but in hockey the results are all that matter.  Two wins over two strong Canadian clubs, Toronto and North Division leading Hamilton, gives the Admirals 52 points through their first 40 games.  52 more in the second half could earn Milwaukee a West Division title and the Western Conference’s top overall seed.

So Roundtable, How many more points in the second half of the season do you think Milwaukee needs to win the West Division and/or the Western Conference?  Are you content with the Admirals just making the AHL playoffs, or with the team’s strong first half, have your expectations for Milwaukee changed?

Three Things Milwaukee is Doing Well, Three Things the Admirals Need to Work on.

Three things Milwaukee is doing well:

1)  The play of Mark Dekanich.

Off to a blazing start, goaltender Mark Dekanich is clearly the MVP of the Admirals in the early going this season.  In 11 games of action, Dekanich has allowed just 16 goals, while racking up eight wins against just two losses.  His statistics are staggering, headlined by a goals against average of 1.48 and a save percentage of 94.5, which are far and away the best in the AHL.  The only issue between the pipes that Milwaukee has faced so far is that Dekanich can’t play every night.

2) Turning defense into offense.

Prior to season Milwaukee’s strength appeared to be its defense.  Through the first 15 games this season the Admirals blueline has been stout, limiting quality scoring chances against.  But the Admirals defense is also keying an impressive transition game.  Jonathon Blum, Roman Josi, and Teemu Laakso represent three of the best two-way defenders in the AHL, and all three are off to great starts.

3) Balanced Scoring.

Sporting a balanced offensive attack is pivotal to success in hockey, especially at the AHL level.  Teams that feature only one scoring line usually go haywire in the middle of the season when NHL teams are forced to make significant injury call ups.   So far Milwaukee has found a nice balance on the score sheet, getting offensive contributions from each of its first three lines.  Linus Klasen remains the focal point with eight goals and 14 points, but Milwaukee features 12 players with five points or more through the first 15 games of the season, making the Admirals a tough team to matchup against.

Three things the Admirals need to work on:

1) Improve special teams.

Through 15 games, Milwaukee stands tied for fifth overall in league points, sporting an impressive 9-3-3 record.  But the special teams have lagged behind during the Admirals fast start.  Milwaukee owns a decent power play, ranked 14th and clicking at a 17.6% clip.  But strangely the penalty kill has lagged behind.  The Admirals rank just 17th overall, successful at killing penalties 82% of the time.  In order to remain among the league’s elite teams, Milwaukee must improve on its special teams play.

2) Find a solid No. 2 in net.

It seems inevitable that Mark Dekanich will get a well-deserved NHL shot, whether with Nashville or via a transaction to another team.  But even if Dekanich stays in the AHL all season, Milwaukee still faces seven more occasions of three games in three nights, including two on the upcoming Texas swing.  With a win in his first start this season with Milwaukee, maybe Jeremy Smith can be the solution to the Admirals backup goaltender quagmire.

3) Get Blake Geoffrion on the scoreboard.

No player in Milwaukee faces a microscope quite like Blake Geoffrion, who got off to a slow start.  But Geoffrion showed signs of figuring things out prior to getting knocked out of Milwaukee’s 4-1 win against Chicago on November 7 (Geoffrion hasn’t been back in game action since).  When he does comeback, getting that first goal should spark a surge in Geoffrion’s offensive game.

So Roundtable, what do you think are Milwaukee’s strengths and weaknesses in the early going?

Managing Three Games in Three Nights

One of the few drawbacks of playing hockey in the AHL is the occurrence of three game stretches played in three nights.  As marquee draw in many of the league’s markets, maximizing the amount of weekend dates is a must.

How a coach like Milwaukee’s Lane Lambert handles the three in three can make or break a season.

“In the games we as coaches have to manage our players and manage our ice times a little bit more,” Lambert said.  “We also have to look at potentially putting other players into our lineup and switching it up a little bit over the course of the weekend.”

October 23-25 marks the first of eight of those such occasions for Milwaukee on the schedule, with a road game at Grand Rapids, home game against Abbotsford and a road game at Chicago.  Managing goaltenders properly is perhaps the most difficult variable Lambert has to deal with during the long weekend.

“We will play both goaltenders,” Lambert said.  “As far as how the rotation goes I haven’t decided yet, but (Mark) Dekanich will start in Grand Rapids and we will go from there.”

As stressful as a three in three can be for a coach, it can be exhausting for a player.  College teams only play a long weekend during the conference playoffs in a best two out of three situation.

Therefore it will be a big adjustment for rookies like Blake Geoffrion.

“Three games in three nights is something I have to get used to,” Geoffrion said.  “It requires recovering properly so you can play at your best each night.”

So Roundtable, I ask you, what do you think Milwaukee should do to maximize their chances for success this weekend?  Rotate the goalies or stick with the hot hand?  Change up the lineup every night or stick with what is working?

Five Observations From Opening Night

1)  Milwaukee may not score a prettier goal all season than Linus Klasen’s first career AHL tally on the power-play.

The Admirals worked their 5-on-3 power-play to perfection on opening night, moving the puck around the perimeter, and spreading out the Abbotsford defense.  Milwaukee finished it off in style scoring a goal off of a gorgeous tick-tack-toe play as a pair of one touch cross-ice passes set up an empty net for Linus Klasen.  Klasen finish the play off with an exuberant celebration–a sweeping fist pump to stamp the exclamation point.

“It always nice to score a couple of goals,” Klasen said.  “Especially, getting those kinds of goals because I had open nets to shoot at, but it is nice to produce right away.”

2)  Milwaukee might not score an easier goal all season than Matt Halischuk’s first career Admirals tally.

The credit for this goal goes to Abbotsford goaltender Leland Irving, who decided to be forgiving to an Admirals player trying to make an impact with his new team.  After dropping his stick, Irving inadvertently coughed up the puck to Admirals forward Matt Halischuk, who tossed the puck into the empty net.  You have to wonder if Halischuk said something to Irving to force the turnover, because Irving never looked up to see who he was passing to.

3)  Linus Klausen is for real as a dangerous offensive player.

Though Klausen is unlikely to see the time and space all season like what he saw on opening night, the talented Swede will be a player to watch for during his time in Milwaukee.  Klausen is a gifted stick handler and play-maker, a wizard in the offensive zone.  The only thing holding him back being his diminutive size, but playing on a line with more physical forwards Nick Spaling and Andreas Thuresson, Klausen seems like a natural fit.

“I have to keep playing my style of game and not try to change too much,” Klasen said of the things he needs to do to be an effective player in the AHL.  “Maybe I will need to the shoot the puck more and work harder in the defensive zone, but I need to (focus on) what I do best out there.”

4)  The play of Blake Geoffrion and Ryan Flynn will steadily improve.

On opening night the two former WCHA rivals, Blake Geoffrion and Ryan Flynn, looked like rookies in the AHL, as both players still need time to bring their college games up to AHL speed.  But I thought Geoffrion, in particular, finished the game off with a strong third period, getting involved more in the fore-check and creating a few quality scoring chances.  Look for Geoffrion and Flynn to be improving players in the coming weeks as they adjust their level of play to professional of hockey.

5)  Playing back-to-back games on the road is a tough draw, especially the first weekend of the season.

I can’t help but feel for the Abbotsford Heat.  Playing back-to-back road games is hard enough.  Doing it the first weekend of season is a tall task.  The Heat were the better team in the first period, but then fatigue hit in the second period resulting in several bad penalties, and four Admirals goals.  However, it was up to Milwaukee to take advantage of a tired team.  The Admirals did so with a 6-2 win on opening night.