Tag: Charlotte Checkers

Beyond the Bradley Center: Turning Points and Paul Fenton talk

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 49 G.P., 23-20-3-3–52 pts., 128 goals scored, 142 goals allowed, 11th place in the Western Conference (3rd Midwest Division). Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (10 goals, 27 assists, 30 points). Best Recent Win: Feb. 17, 3-1 vs. Abbotsford. Worst Recent Loss: Feb. 16, Charlotte 8 at Milwaukee 2.

A handful of times during an AHL season, most teams get to enjoy 3-game-in-3-nights stretches where all three games are at home. For coaching staffs and players, these dates get circled on the calender as possible big weekends, or at least a chance to pick up some much needed points. This past weekend Milwaukee got through just fine, picking up a sliver of ground with four out of six points.

However, this weekend meant a whole lot more. On Friday Milwaukee staged a miracle comeback to steal a game away from San Antonio. Then on Saturday night in front of a large, and unlikely to leave early crowd, the Admirals posted a stinker losing 8-2 to Charlotte in a game that actually could have been much worse. Yet, Milwaukee turned things around one day later by beating Abbotsford 3-1, taking two big points from a team that also got pounded the previous night.

In hind sight games like these ones have the chance to stand out as “turning points.” The question is will we look back at this weekend and think this was where Milwaukee turned around the ship, or will we look back and think this is where it sunk?

In other news, ESPN.com and TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun put a nice plug in for Predators Assistant/Milwaukee Admirals General Manager Paul Fenton in a post about possible future NHL GMs on Friday:

4. Paul Fenton, Nashville Predators: A day-oner with the Preds’ franchise, Fenton was director of player personnel for the first eight years before being elevated to assistant GM in June 2006. Nashville GM David Poile has told me several times over the past few years that he believes Fenton has what it takes to be a good GM, and I wholeheartedly concur. Let’s face it: Fenton has been front and center in the organization’s drafting and developing of players, and if there’s a team that relies heavily on developing its own talent, it’s the Predators, who haven’t had the luxury to spend like the big boys. They do things the right way and they don’t rush talent. Fenton, 53, clearly has an eye for identifying and developing talent, and he’d make a fine GM.

I completely agree with this assessment and am actually surprised that his name hasn’t been mentioned more often for openings (of course unlike coaches, these openings don’t come around quite as often). While I am busy making plugs for team personnel, I think current Nashville assistant coach Lane Lambert is fully deserving of an NHL head coaching job, and I expect him to find one in the not-so-far future.

So Roundtable . . . A couple months down the road, will we look back at this weekend as a turning point? What are your feelings about Paul Fenton? Does he deserve a head G.M. gig in the NHL?

Beyond the Bradley Center: Admirals Right the Ship as the Holiday Home Stretch Approaches

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 20 G.P., 9-8-2-1–21 pts., 55 goals scored, 60 goals allowed, 10th place in the Western Conference. Leading scorer: Austin Watson (8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points).

Best Recent Win: Nov. 30 3-2 over Chicago. Worst Recent Loss: Nov. 20, 5-3 to the Wolves. Key Upcoming Matchup: Dec. 9 at Charlotte.

Has Milwaukee turned a corner in this young season? Three wins in a row, and stretch of points recorded in five consecutive games has to mean something.

Perhaps more importantly, the Admirals appear to be improving defensively, playing three close to the vest contests in a row. Certainly if Milwaukee is going to make any noise this season, the Admirals need to be one of the AHL’s best defensive teams.

Considering all the road games on the schedule to date (continuing through Dec. 11 at Charlotte), it is hard not to be pleased with a 9-8-2-1 start, even if it leaves Milwaukee on the outside looking in at the Western Conference playoff race. Home cooking awaits over the holidays, with nine of the next 11 games at the Bradley Center after the trip to North Carolina (to face the South Division leading Checkers), including five in a row at home.

Meanwhile, my vote for Mr. Movember has to be Austin Watson. The AHL rookie scored six goals and five assists in the month, recorded his first multi-goal game, and is looking like a solid NHL prospect. Exactly what David Poile and Paul Fenton were looking for when they drafted the Ann Arbor, Michigan native in the first round of the 2010 entry draft. He really does like a Predator in waiting, even if that opportunity is one he will have to continue to wait for.

So Roundtable . . . Are you ready for a batch of home games? Is time for Milwaukee to start ‘making some hay,’ and win in bunches. Is the recent streak a positive sign? What are your impressions of Austin Watson, am I too high on him?