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?