Tag: Roman Josi

Admirals Sweep the Shootout, Outlast Oklahoma City 4-3

With a chance to retake first place in the West Division, Milwaukee’s normally dormant shootout skills caught fire Tuesday night, going a perfect four-for-four against Oklahoma City to deliver a 4-3 home win.

Admirals shooters Mark Santorelli, Mark Van Guilder, Gabriel Bourque and Ryan Thang all converted, while goaltender Jeremy Smith stopped two of three Oklahoma City attempts to preserve the victory.

With the two points, Milwaukee moves back into first place at 89 points.  The Admirals now sit one point clear of Houston, which lost 3-0 to Texas tonight.

Riding a fast start, Milwaukee opened the scoring 14:34 into the hockey game.  Off a transition pass from Teemu Laakso, Ryan Thang’s bad angle shot from the bottom of the right face off dot caught goaltender Jeff Deslauriers sliding and squeezed through the five-hole.

“It was quick little regroup play,” said Thang at the first intermission. “I beat their defense back up the ice, but I got a little lucky with the shot.”

In the final minute of the first period, Oklahoma City countered after Thang took a slashing penalty.  On their fourth rebound opportunity, Anthony Aiello scored into a wide-open Milwaukee net.

The Admirals regained a one-goal advantage seven minutes into the second period on a brilliant play from Roman Josi and Chris Mueller.   Off a breakout Josi found Mueller at center ice with a step on Aiello.  With a tape-to-tape 100-foot stretch pass, Josi sprung Mueller on a breakaway.  Mueller finished off the play with a brilliant deke.

Seven minutes later the Barons again tied the game, this time with a deflection goal by Andrew Lord.  Lord, who dressed for a pair of games with Milwaukee earlier this season, had his first AHL goal of 2010-2011 find twine off of goaltender Jeremy Smith’s mask.

Milwaukee countered yet again at the 17:38 mark of the second period, this time on the power play.  After Josi busted his stick, Andreas Thuresson found Kelsey Wilson alone in front of Deslauriers.  Wilson tucked a backhand shot through his legs, through Deslauriers’ wickets and across the goal line for a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Pressing in the third period, Oklahoma City peppered Smith, finally scoring on a five-on-three power play in the last four minutes.  Mark Arcobello scored the tying goal on one-timer off of a cross-crease pass from Brad Moran.

Overtime saw bizarre string of four minor penalties in quick succession, resulting in an extended period of four-on-three and five-on-three power play time for Milwaukee, but the Admirals only managed a couple of marginal chances to leave the game tied at three after 65 minutes.

Despite allowing three goals on 38 shots, Smith was superb.  But the Admirals netminder saved his best save for the overtime, stretching across for a highlight reel right leg stop on a three-on-one in the first minute of overtime.

Smith now has 12 wins this season and sports a record of 12-6-2.

“The win felt really good for our team,” Smith said.  “We really stuck with it and played well tonight, but were not thinking of anything else other than finishing in first place.”

With Nashville’s 3-1 win over Edmonton tonight, the Predators organization went 2-0 against the Oilers organization on Tuesday.  Thanks to the one point gained, the Barons move up to 82 on the year to take over solo possession of fourth place in the West Division.

Milwaukee continues the home stand Friday night with their final regular season meeting with Chicago.

Tonight’s Admirals lineup (starters in ALL-CAPS):

Goaltender:  JEREMY SMITH

Defense:  AARON JOHNSON-BRETT PALIN

Roman Josi-Teemu Laakso

Grant Lewis-Scott Ford

Forwards:  KELSEY WILSON-MARK VAN GUILDER-ANDREAS THURESSON

Dylan Hunter-Mike Bartlett-Ryan Flynn

Gabriel Bourque-Chris Mueller-Ryan Thang

Brock McBride-Connor Shields-Mark Santorelli

Injury updates:  Forward Steve Begin is getting close to returning according to coach Lane Lambert.  Both Mark Dekanich and Linus Klasen remain a long distance away from returning.

Some questions for discussion:

1) With 10 games to play in the regular season, has Milwaukee finally found some playoff security with win 38 of the year?

2) Would Oklahoma City be a favorable match up for Milwaukee in the first round of the AHL playoffs?

3) Tonight was an on/off night for the Milwaukee power play.  Are some of the missing go-to scorers, Jonathon Blum, Blake Geoffrion and Linus Klasen, holding the special teams back?


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 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?

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?