Tag: penalty kill

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?

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?