Tag: power play

Fixing the Admirals Power Play, Three Solutions

Through 42 games the Milwaukee Admirals sit in the second spot in the Western Conference, having accumulated 24 wins and 54 points.  Therefore all is well in Milwaukee, right?  When the Admirals skate five aside life is good, but the special teams remain a glaring issue as Milwaukee currently owns a seven goal deficit during special teams play.

“Five-on-five were pretty good, (but) its an ongoing process to try to get our special teams better,” Admirals coach Lane Lambert said. “We have to look at both the power play and the penalty kill.”

Lets start with the power play, which sits in 19th place in the AHL.  Milwaukee is effective 15.8% of the time, scoring 27 goals on 171 chances while allowing six shorthanded goals against.

What can the Admirals do to improve the power play?

“I think we just need to keep working on it,” Milwaukee defenseman Scott Ford said.  “We don’t a lot of guys other than Linus Klasen and Chris Mueller, who is up with Nashville, that put up big offensive numbers so we have to score by committee on the power play.  If we do the right things, the puck will start finding the back of the net.”

Here are my three solutions to improve the power play:

1) More movement out of everyone on the power play.  Whenever a power play goes south scoring-wise, this is usually the number one culprit.  All players on Milwaukee need to move their feet more to create more shooting and passing lanes.  More open lanes means more shots on goal and more scoring opportunities.

2) Stop watching Linus Klasen.  With a player like Linus Klasen out on the power play, it is easy to get caught watching him and not moving to get open for him.  Klasen is an amazing special teams weapon, but he needs help.  Klasen can draw opposing defenses to him creating openings for other options.

3) Blast more point shots.  The Admirals best weapon is the talent of their defensemen, and Roman Josi, Aaron Johnson, Jonathon Blum and Teemu Laakso are all potential scoring weapons.  By moving more on the power play, shooting lanes for the points open up, creating opportunities for Milwaukee’s garbage goal hunters to find rebounds and tips around the net.  Another way to create offense from the point is to have a good cycle down low that pulls the opposing defense lower in the zone, opening up plays and shots from up high.

Next week…I will tackle the Penalty Kill.  Stay tuned.

So Roundtable, What are your Power Play Solutions?

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?