Tag: Sheldon Brookbank

Big League Observations from the Press Box

A short vacation/work trip to southern California to take in the Rose Bowl afforded me the chance to spectate the Milwaukee Admirals’ parent club, the Nashville Predators, as they competed in Anaheim one night prior to my return voyage back to frosty Wisconsin.

Here are four of my observations from the Predators 4-1 victory over the Ducks.

1) Chris Mueller fits right in with Nashville.

Though Chris Mueller finished the night with just 8:28 of playing time (the second fewest minutes of any Predators forward) he played a strong two-way game, registering two shots on goal and contributing to several sustained Nashville shifts in the offensive zone.  Though Mueller is slightly undersized by NHL standards, the work ethic he showed all year in Milwaukee was evident at the Honda Center.  In three games of NHL action through Thursday, Mueller has yet to score, but I have a feeling that will change in the near future.

2) Wade Belak over Linus Klasen?  Seriously, Why?

I have seen enough of Wade Belak’s career to really wonder why he has an NHL job in the first place.  Against Anaheim, Belak played a whole 1:55, picking up an entertaining scrap with veteran NHL goon George Parros.  Belak was in the lineup against the Ducks simply to match up against Anaheim’s size, but everyone else seemed to be doing just fine, including the 5’10” Mueller.  Instead of Belak, I wanted to watch Linus Klasen skate alongside Mueller to give Nashville another potential scoring option.

With a back-to-back game in Los Angeles on Thursday, I certainly would have plugged Klasen into the lineup against the more up-tempo Kings.  Belak was a complete non-factor, getting less than four minutes of ice time in this game.  I have to think that Klasen would have made a more positive impression than Belak, especially as a player hungry to get into the line up.  Still, Nashville dominated for a 5-2 come from behind win.

3) Jerred Smithson and Nick Spaling made big impressions.

Jerred Smithson might not be the most exciting player on the Predators, but the former Admiral plays with a ton of heart.  Smithson worked his tail off the whole game, and got rewarded with fluky goal that only he knew was in.  Playing on the same line as Smithson, Nick Spaling played what I thought was his best game so far with Nashville.  He logged over 17 minutes of ice time, assisted on Smithson’s goal and was all over the place on the Predators relentless forecheck.

4) Sheldon Brookbank is stuck as the odd man out in Anaheim.

The remembrance of Brian Burke’s general manager days in Anaheim remains obvious in the team’s defensive corps.  Despite losing Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer over the past two years, there are few precious open slots on the Ducks blueline.  With all eight rostered defensemen currently healthy, former Admiral Sheldon Brookbank is finding a hard time getting into the line up, much like fellow veteran Paul Mara.  From watching him during the pregame skate, Brookbank looked like he was itching to get back to competing rather than spectating.

A little question and answer with Admirals Fans

At Saturday night’s home opener against Abbotsford, I caught up with a few Milwaukee fans, Ann Scholz of Waukesha, Nick Memmel of New Berlin and Matt Kotowicz of Milwaukee to hear some of their initial thoughts about the game and team.

Question 1:  Are you excited hockey season is back?

Scholz: “Absolutely, I have been waiting for the puck to drop since May.”

Memmel: “Hockey is my favorite sport, but hopefully we can win some more games this year.”

My two cents: Fall is an awesome season in the state of Wisconsin.  The slight chill in the air signals hockey season is back, and I cannot wait for that first game.  It never disappoints.

Question 2:  What are your first impressions of this year’s club?

Kotowicz: “There is a lot of speed out there, so I think this is going to be an exciting season.  With all of the younger talent I think we are going to be a lot better.”

Scholz: “I like a lot of the new guys, so I think we are going to do well.”

Memmel: “There is a couple old NHL players out there, some AHL All-Stars, and a bunch of good foreign players so I think we will be good.”

My two cents: From watching a little bit of training camp and then opening night, I couldn’t help but be impressed by Milwaukee’s team speed.  Even at practice coach Lane Lambert had players skating at a mesmerizing tempo.  I really think the Admirals will surprise this year, but with all of the youth on the roster there will be some growing pains along the way.

Question 3:  What is your favorite aspect about coming to AHL games in Milwaukee?

Memmel: “The experience, from the fans to the cowbells and the chants.”

Scholz: “I just so enjoy the game and all the people we’ve met during the 21 years we have been coming.  It is just great to be here and to enjoy the experience.”

My two cents: I really enjoy seeing the future prospects the league has to offer.  As a serious NHL fan, it is great to see the next generation of stars, but also some of your favorite players who are still playing in the AHL because they love hockey that much.

Question 4:  Who are some of your favorite former Admirals you have watched play at the Bradley Center?

Scholz: “Of course Gino (Cavallini), but we had a special relationship with Mike Tomlak.  There has been so many players we’ve enjoyed watching.”

Kotowicz: “Pekka (Rinne), Sheldon Brookbank, Nolan Yonkman, but there has just been so many of them.”

Memmel: “Mike Santorelli, Tristan Grant, and Hugh Jessiman.”

My two cents: Great choices here, but my three favorites got left out:  Tony Hrkac, Jordin Tootoo, and Dave Scatchard.

Hey Roundtable, let me know YOUR two cents on these questions in the comments section.