Tag: Milwaukee Admirals

Preds Switch Lindback for Dekanich; Blum Recalled

Tuesday, February 22 proved to be a eventful morning in the Music City.

The Nashville Predators made a pair of in house transactions before most team employees had finished their morning coffee, first swapping goaltenders by recalling Mark Dekanich from Milwaukee to replace Anders Lindback, who was sent down to the Admirals.  This will be Lindback’s first assignment to the AHL, while Dekanich will be making his fourth trip up to the NHL this season.

From December 4 through December 17, Lindback was the hottest goaltender in the NHL, winning six of seven starts, including two shutouts, and allowing three or more goals just once.  However the Gavle, Sweden native has went cold of late in his limited action, losing four of his last five decisions, and getting lit up for six goals by the Chicago Blackhawks on January 16.

This will definitely be a conditioning assignment for Lindback, who needs some in-game action to re-find his talents.  He should get plenty of opportunities as the Admirals face a four game in five night stretch starting tonight in Houston.

On the other hand, Dekanich will be looking to expand on his one game of NHL experience and auditioning for a new contract next season.

Meanwhile, Jonathon Blum will be making his first career trip to the National Hockey League, confirming the rumors that were swirling around the internet yesterday.  Blum, who is tied for second in the Admirals in scoring, will try to help out a Nashville blueline that has been hit hard by injuries as of late, including Ryan Suter.  Suter, who logs around 25 minutes of ice time per game (second only to Shea Weber on the Predators), has been declared out for tonight’s game against Columbus.

This is a great opportunity for the 22-year old Blum to show something at the National Hockey League level, but I for one am surprised that Nashville chose him over Aaron Johnson, a player with an extensive NHL resume to his credit.  The Predators are in the midst of a dogfight in the Western Conference for a playoff spot, sitting in fifth with 70 points, but Nashville is just two points ahead of 11th place Chicago.

The AHL race is nearly as tight, with Milwaukee sitting in the top spot in the West Division with 71 points, but the Admirals are just four points in front of sixth place Oklahoma City.

So Roundtable, what is your reaction to these transactions?  Are you excited to see Lindback in the Admirals uniform, and how do you think Blum will fare up in Nashville?

Mark Dekanich Recalled to Nashville

Life got a little more difficult for the Milwaukee Admirals today.  Goaltender Mark Dekanich was called up this morning by the Nashville Predators for his third stint with the club.

As of present time, I am not sure what this all means. but I do know that there are a lot of rumors involving Predators backup goaltender Anders Lindback.  Lindback is a player a lot of teams are interested in (for obvious reasons:  he’s young, big but mobile and has a great record in relief this season), therefore something could be afloat for Nashville, especially with Dekanich joining the Predators as insurance.  At least three teams, including Toronto, Colorado and the New York Islanders are actively shopping for goaltenders.

Around the NHL, it looks like the Tomas Kaberle deal to the Boston Bruins is now complete.  Plus former Wisconsin Badgers goaltender Brian Elliott was traded today to Colorado for almost playoff hero Craig Anderson.

Lots of trade buzz today.  It should be fun to see how it all shakes out.

How the NHL Trade Deadline Shapes the AHL’s West Division Playoff Race

February 28th marks an important date on the NHL’s calender.  It is deadline for the clubs to trade players and draft picks to try to bolster their clubs for the future.

But this date has a considerable effect on the AHL as well.  A majority of the deadline transactions involve moving a rental player (someone who has an expiring contract), in exchange for assets (draft picks and/or prospects), also known as teams trying to win now versus teams building for the long term future.  The result is a change in the makeup of AHL teams prior to the stretch run.

Here is how I think each team in the AHL’s West Division will be effected:

Houston (Minnesota):  Though the Wild have an outside shot of making the playoffs in 2011, I see Minnesota as still in the building stages.  Therefore, I expect the Wild to be quiet overall, with a few Aeros joining the NHL ranks late in the season.  Final Verdict:  Slipping.

Milwaukee (Nashville):  The Predators are going for a win now approach.  Though the budget is tight after the acquisition of Mike Fisher, Nashville still could trade an asset for a rental with an expiring contract for its final push.  Even still, I expect Milwaukee to remain well stocked.  Final Verdict:  Neutral.

Peoria (St. Louis):  The Blues started the season with great promise, but have been devastated by injuries.  With its playoff hopes dim, St. Louis will be in the market to sell off a few assets and add some more youth or picks.  However, there are only a few players that the club is willing to part with.  Final Verdict:  Neutral.

San Antonio (Phoenix):  Still dealing with an ownership mess, the Coyotes are the toughest team in the NHL to judge.  Still, Phoenix looks like a playoff team and was extremely active at last year’s deadline.  I expect the Coyotes to again use prospects in order to pick up some rentals for the stretch run.  Final Verdict:  Slipping.

Texas Stars (Dallas):  Dallas is in free fall and might slip right out of the Western Conference playoffs.  Brad Richards may be traded, resulting in a full ransom of talent in return, but other than Richards, the Stars look to be building onto a young core and hoping it gets some playoff experience this year.  Final Verdict:  Improving.

Oklahoma City (Edmonton):  Edmonton seems destined to finish dead last in the NHL.  How does that effect OK City?  The Oilers will be trying to add more prospects and pushing its talented youth up to the NHL.  Final Verdict:  Slipping.

Chicago (Atlanta):  Atlanta is currently in a terrible tailspin and looks destined to fall out of the playoffs in the East.  However, the Thrashers remain in the thick of the playoff chase.  Therefore, I expect Atlanta to be looking to add talent in the hopes of a last ditch jump over Carolina and Buffalo, which means trading prospects.  Final Verdict:  Slipping.

Rockford (Chicago):  Though the Ice Hogs are clearly out of the AHL playoff race, their divisional games will still play a pivotal role in its outcome.  Chicago is right on the edges of the NHL playoff race, but the Blackhawks are still cap tight and prospect bare.  My hunch is that Chicago will be stuck trying to build for the future.  Final Verdict:  Improving.

An Outdoor Admirals Game?

With the AHL going outdoors for the second time this week (Providence will face Connecticut at UConn’s football stadium on Saturday), I thought it might be a decent time to gauge the interest of Admirals fans in watching their team play a game outdoors.

The state of Wisconsin is certainly no stranger to showcasing outdoor hockey, with Lambeau Field having played host to Wisconsin and Ohio State in 2006, while Camp Randall Stadium saw Wisconsin and Michigan compete last year.

Rumors around Madison last spring (I haven’t heard anything recently on this) is that the parties that were involved with the previous two outdoor games would be interested in having the Badgers play in a third outdoor contest at Miller Park sometime in the near future.

It would only make sense for the Milwaukee Admirals to have a game at Miller Park as well, perhaps as part of a double header (seems logical for something taking place at a baseball field).

So Roundtable…

Nashville Acquires Mike Fisher from Ottawa for Picks

Huge news today out of the Music City.  The Nashville Predators have acquired forward Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Nashville’s first round selection in the 2011 draft and a conditional pick next year.

The move is a monumental one for the Predators, as only two players, Patric Hornqvist (16) and Sergei Kostitsyn (15), have scored more goals this season than Fisher (14).

As a player with an extensive playoff resume, Fisher brings a set of intangibles as a player that is hard to find.

The question now is which player will be moved to make room on the Predators roster for Fisher.  My guess is that Matt Halischuk will be sent back to Milwaukee, but that is simply speculation.

Coincidentally this transaction happens on the same day I write a feature on how important the Admirals have been this season in keeping Nashville alive in the Western Conference playoff race.  A curious piece of timing for the trade to say the least.

Another curiosity:  What role did Mike Fisher play in choosing his new home?  Fisher is of course married to country singer Carrie Underwood.  She may have been pushing Ottawa’s fan favorite to move south.

Combined with Chicago’s trade yesterday of Jack Skille for Michael Frolik and the Francois Beauchemin/Joffrey Lupul deal, it has certainly been an eventful couple of days around the NHL.

So Roundtable, what are your thoughts on the Mike Fisher trade?

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?

Admirals All-Star Snubs

At the All-Star break, Milwaukee sits in the top spot in the AHL’s Western Conference with 60 points in 47 games played.  (I do realize that San Antonio and Houston each have 60 points as well, but they’ve played 49 and 51 games respectively).

Yet the Admirals have just two players competing in the AHL All-Star festivities, forward Linus Klasen and goaltender Mark Dekanich.  I don’t want to take anything away from those two players earning such honors, but isn’t it strange that Milwaukee didn’t send one single defenseman to Hershey, Pennsylvania?

So what if the Admirals have allowed just 116 goals, best in the West Division and even lower than super stingy and boring Peoria at 122 (Got to love how much that 8-1 win Friday paid off in the AHL stat book).

So what if Jonathon Blum is 11th in the AHL in scoring for defensemen with 28 points?  (Snub)

So what if recently red hot Aaron Johnson has seven goals and a 225-game NHL pedigree?  (Snub)

So what if Roman Josi is one of the best young defenseman in the AHL, even though he missed seven games with an injury?  (Snub)

So what if Teemu Laakso has 16 points, is a plus 11 and spent significant time up with Nashville? (Snub)

Pretty ridiculous in my humble opinion.  What does coach Lane Lambert think?

“There are only so many players that can go off a team,” Lambert said.  “I do think there were some other guys that were deserving to go as well, but that’s the way it goes.”

Clearly, Lambert decided to take the high road.

My hope is that the Roundtable won’t.

Which Admirals players do think deserve to be lacing up their skates in Hershey this evening?

Fixing the Admirals Penalty Kill

Through 45 games the Admirals sit in a surprising 24th place in the AHL in penalty killing success.  Milwaukee is effective 79.9% of the time short handed, allowing 37 goals on 183 attempts, while scoring six goals of their own while skating at least a man short.

“Some nights our penalty kill is good, other nights its bad,” Milwaukee defenseman Scott Ford said.  “I think it’s a just a matter of everybody being on the same page and getting better as a group . . . I think we are doing a better job as of late, and it hasn’t been costing us games like it did early in the season. We just have to keep working on it.”

Here are my three solutions for fixing the penalty kill.

1) Have a healthy Steve Begin.  This is probably the biggest reason for Milwaukee’s struggles as Steve Begin seems almost a perfect prototype for a penalty killer in the AHL with his checking tenacity and his aggressiveness.  Without Begin, there hasn’t a go-to killer for the Admirals to turn to.

2) Clear Rebounds.  Though most hockey fans associate power play goals with pretty plays, oftentimes it’s a rebound or redirection play that scores on a man advantage.  Milwaukee has strong goaltenders who can make the first save, but clearing pucks away is even more essential short handed because the killing team is always out-maned down low.

3) Block shooting/passing lanes.  Active sticks and quick feet up high makes for good penalty killing forwards.  With how well Milwaukee’s forwards play two-way hockey while skating five-on-five, they need to show the same commitment while short handed.  This means aggressively skating to take away shooting and passing lanes.

So Roundtable, what are your penalty killing solutions?  Is there personnel you wish to see Milwaukee try out short handed, or a four-man style you would like to Lane Lambert employ?