Tag: Taylor Beck

Beyond the Bradley Center: The January Swoon Redux

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 40 G.P., 17-17-3-3–40 pts., 100 goals scored, 114 goals allowed, 13th place in the Western Conference (Last Midwest Division). Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (6 goals, 21 assists, 27 points). Best Recent Win: None. Worst Recent Loss: Jan. 20, 2-0 at Abbotsford. Key Upcoming Matchup: Jan. 25 vs. Oklahoma City.

Can you remember the last time Milwaukee won? I know I can! It was on January 6, when the Admirals posted a 3-2 win in a shootout over Grand Rapids. It came as part of a weekend where Milwaukee picked up five out of a possible six points, and also just happened to come on the day the NHL lockout ended.

One thing I remember about that weekend was how good Austin Watson was. He scored the game-winner against Chicago in the final two minutes on Thursday night and then the Admirals’ only shootout goal against Oklahoma City two nights later.

For Watson its been an up-and-down first professional season. He was dominant for Milwaukee in November, scoring 11 points. But the the rookie went dormant on the score sheet for a seven-game stretch in December. Watson, whose never been known as a huge goal scorer, has struggled offensively to tally goals in January (who hasn’t for Milwaukee), going four games without one during the Admirals recent swoon.

Watson got a big goal in Milwaukee’s loss to Houston and now leads the Admirals with 14 on the season. Though there is a lot of outside pressure on Watson, which I chronicled in my feature today on MilwaukeeAdmirals.com, Milwaukee will need him to contribute even more for Milwaukee to end their second straight January tailspin.

A good place to start a turnaround would be Friday night at the Bradley Center against Oklahoma City. Clearly, Milwaukee hasn’t responded well to the end of the lockout. But the rest of the AHL isn’t going to feel sorry for the Admirals, especially the Barons. Five of OKC’s top six scorers, a staggering 80 goals and 200 points, have moved on to the next level.

Perhaps a game against the Barons is exactly the wake-up call Milwaukee needs.

So Roundtable . . . What do you think of Austin Watson first season? Do you think a game against Oklahoma City will help end the January slide?

Beyond the Bradley Center: Home Cooking for the Holidays, Lots of Rockford & Peoria on Tap

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 26 G.P., 12-11-2-1–27 pts., 73 goals scored, 79 goals allowed, T-11th place in the Western Conference. Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (4 goals, 14 assists, 18 points). Best Recent Win: Dec. 16, 4-3 over Hamilton. Worst Recent Loss: Dec. 15, 3-1 at Peoria. Key Upcoming Matchup: Dec. 19 vs. Rockford.

Talk about a kick in the teeth. With the NHL is locked out, the AHL schedule-makers gave Milwaukee a league-high run of road games to start the season, leaving many area hockey fans like myself suffering from hardcore hockey withdrawal.

But the balance payoff comes here in December as Milwaukee curls up by the warm fire at the Bradley Center with nine of their next 11 games on home ice, (11 of 14 if you include last weekend). The only roadies in that stretch are a pair of short jaunts to Rockford and Peoria.

Milwaukee will get extremely familiar with those two division foes in the next few weeks with four more games against the Rivermen on tap by Jan. 13, and another four against the IceHogs by Jan. 12.

With most of these games at home, the opportunity is certainly there for coach Dean Evason’s young squad to turn the corner on the season and go for on a run to get into a playoff spot. Its been so far so good for Milwaukee this season, as an above .500 record in Milwaukee’s brutal schedule to date is borderline great (as I stated in my feature on theAHL.com this week).

What cannot happen is a repeat of last year’s January swan dive. Milwaukee stands in fifth place (last) in the Midwest Division. However, the Admirals are just a point out of the top spot currently occupied by Grand Rapids. Strange stuff indeed.

Last year Milwaukee actually held the top spot in the west ever so briefly before fading in January and February. That early cushion allowed the Admirals the chance to pull off their remarkable standings comeback to finish the season and earn the fifth seed.

Peoria and Rockford are currently a point ahead of the Admirals, while Milwaukee has a game in hand on both teams. Now is as good a time as any to climb over their rivals and become a legitimate contender.

So Roundtable . . . Are you looking forward to all of these holiday home games? Is second place or better in the Midwest Division by Jan. 13 a reasonable expectation? How much pressure is on Milwaukee to play well at home, considering their current position of 12th place in the Western Conference?

Beyond the Bradley Center: Admirals Look to Overcome Slow Start, Score More

2012-2013 Milwaukee Admirals: 9 G.P., 4-5-0-0–8 pts., 21 goals scored, 24 goals allowed, 12th place in the Western Conference. Leading scorer: Taylor Beck (1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points).

Best Recent Win: Oct. 31 5-4 over Charlotte. Worst Recent Loss: Oct 20 1-0 at San Antonio. Key Upcoming Matchup: Nov. 10 at Rockford.

On a historic political night in the state of Wisconsin, I thought I would take time to chime in on the Milwaukee Admirals season for the first time this season. Its great to be back. Hopefully we will be hearing the same rhetoric soon from the NHL.

Obviously, 4-5-0-0 was not the start Milwaukee was looking for coming off the fast finish of the 2011-2012 campaign. However, considering how few goals the Admirals scored so far (just 21, 7th worst in the AHL), things could be much worse. After Milwaukee suffered through a disastrous Texas road trip, the Admirals responded with two big wins in a three game stretch.

But I felt growing pains were to be expected in Milwaukee this season, especially early. Other than a few key veterans in familiar roles (Chris Mueller, Jonathon Blum, Jeremy Smith), the Admirals again sport a young roster full of fresh faces. Milwaukee is also being guided by its fourth head coach in a little over two years, and it can argued that its third philosophical change. Lastly, in a league rich with top NHL prospects due to the lockout, two of the Admirals’ key potential Predators, Ryan Ellis and Gabriel Bourque, have only made a limited impact due to injuries.

The biggest issue so far for Milwaukee has been a lack of consistent goal scoring. Too many nights sustained offensive pressure hasn’t been there leaving Jeremy Smith left to bail the team out (a job he’s quite capable of).  There have been a couple of major bright spots, notably the offensive efforts of rookies Patrick Cehlin and Mattias Ekholm, plus timely goals from Mark Van Guilder.

Honestly, I can’t help but be excited about the Admirals despite the slow start. Though lacking the major weapons of a team like Oklahoma City, the Admirals are deep with quality players. Defensively, Milwaukee has displayed a nice balance between offensive/transition blue liners and solid stay at home defenders.

This weekend Milwaukee plays Rockford for the first time this season. After last year’s terrible showing versus the IceHogs, Milwaukee will looking to take an early leg up on the season series.

So Roundtable . . . What did you think of Milwaukee’s start? Were you hoping for more? Are you seeing the positive signs I am seeing? Is Game 1 against Rockford a measuring stick game?