On Sunday November 7th, the Milwaukee Admirals thrilled the home crowd with an outstanding 4-1 victory over the hated (but certainly not feared) Chicago Wolves.
The Admirals have not had a home game since.
10 games on the road, an eighth of the season.
The end result? A 5-3-0-2 record. 12 out of a possible 20 points in the standings.
So why don't we feel all that great about it? It was quite the rollercoaster ride...
The good, the bad, the ugly, and the pleasantly surprising... after the jump.
- Mark Dekanich. And "good" doesn't do his performance justice. Games 1 and 2 of the trip? Shutouts over Grand Rapids and
Cleveland(cough) Lake Erie. Dekanich set the franchise record for shutout minutes with 209:31 passing by between goals against. The goal that broke the streak was one of 52 shots he faced in the November 17th game against the 1st place San Antonio Rampage. The Admirals ended up losing that game in a shootout. Dex ended the trip with three shutouts, and two of them by the score of 1-0.
- Chris Mueller: He was the most valuable skater on the trip. And it wasn't even close. He scored seven of the team's 21 goals on the ten game trek. Three of them were shorthanded, one on the power play (a topic we'll get to shortly), and two of them were game winners. Mueller has been a model of versatility over the course of the whole season, fitting in on every line, on special teams, and even out-of-position. Primarily a winger, Mueller has been playing center for most of the trip as a result of injuries to Blake Geoffrion and Mark Van Guilder. Mueller is the only forward who really deserves to have his name brought up in "Who can we call up from Milwaukee" discussions. And he's not even on an NHL contract. Rich Peverley Part II? We'll see.
- The start of the southern portion of the trip. After winning the first three games in Grand Rapids and
Cleveland(cough) Lake Erie, the team went 0-3-0-1 in the next four games. Part of the credit goes to the competition. San Antonio is a 1st place team, Oklahoma City sports some great young talent mixed with 4-A level scorers, and the Texas Stars were the Calder Cup runners up last season. But poor efforts led to mental mistakes, led to miscues, led to scores like 4-3, 2-0, 5-2, and 4-1.
- Linus Klasen. Benched as a healthy scratch in a 1-0 victory over the Texas Stars on the last weekend of the trip, teams have found a way to make him less effective. He managed just two goals and two assists on the trip, but maybe more glaring were his plus/minus numbers. He ended the trip -5 in 9 games played. Coach Lane Lambert gave the Admirals play-by-play man Aaron Sims a great quote the day after Klasen was the healthy scratch, with the take home message that he's been a bit of a liability defensively, and needs to be more detailed in his game. You can read the full money-quote here.
- Andreas Thuresson. Just a pair of assists on the trip. And he hasn't scored a goal since October 24th.
- The power play. More like a power outage. The Admirals were 0-for-the-road-trip on the power play until the last game on Sunday, when they scored three times with the man-advantage. They also found themselves killing 11 more power plays than they were awarded.
- Injuries: Blake Geoffrion has been out since that last home game against the Wolves. Mark Van Guilder, Matt Halischuk, Ryan Flynn and Teemu Laakso are all a bit banged up with various upper body injuries.
- Travelling by bus. Aaron Sims shares a story on his blog...
- Well, Chris Mueller. Can't say we saw this offensive barrage coming.
- Taking 5 out of a possible six points in the last three games of the trip, coming on a 3-games-in-3-days stretch. After the winless stretch, that was exactly what the doctor ordered.
- Dan Gendur, the throw-in in the deal that brought Shane O'Brien to Nashville has played a couple games and has held his own fairly well.
The Admirals will have a home game tonight against the Manitoba Moose, and we're all very excited for it. And some familiar faces will be in the opponents locker room. Former Ads skipper (and Calder Cup winning coach) Claude Noel now leads the Moose, and former Admirals Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson will return to the Bradley Center for the first time in... well... let's just say it's been AWHILE.