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Milwaukee Musings: Like Parent, Like Child

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The Admirals have followed suit with the parent club in having a scorching start to the season.

San Jose Sharks v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Admirals continued their road trip this week out in California before finishing the week down the road from Milwaukee in Chicago with an important divisional win. After week three, the Admirals sit atop the American Hockey League with one regulation loss on the season.

Headlines & Standings

AHL Standings as of 10-23
theAHL.com
  • Justin Kirkland is excellent in the face-off circle. He had a disappointing season last year but looks decently energized to start 2018-19.
  • Matt Donovan is quietly surpassing expectations. He looked out of place in his first couple games but has become a monster on the ice and is second on the team in points.
  • Rocco Grimaldi is playing center and might be a good swap with Frederick Gaudreau. Grimaldi forechecks hard and is relentless on ice. He has really shaped up to be an AAAA player: a dominant AHL player but not quite good enough for a regular NHL spot. Taylor Beck comes to mind as a comparison.

Weekly Game Recap

October 17: Milwaukee Admirals @ Ontario Reign

10-17 Box Score
theAHL.com

High-scoring affairs have been the story of the Admirals’ season to date. Teams traded goals through the first two periods before Connor Brickley tied the game late in the third on a breakaway.

Nick Baptiste won the game in overtime on a nice shot of the half-wall.

October 19: Milwaukee Admirals @ San Diego Gulls

10-19 Box Score
theAHL.com

The Admirals cranked out arguably their worst performance on the season in the first period of this one. Although they picked up their offensive game through the final two periods, there were defensive miscues all over the ice. McCollum seemed off his game, as well.

October 21: Milwaukee Admirals @ Chicago Wolves

10-21 Box Score
theAHL.com

This game was all you could want out of a strong divisional match-up. The Admirals and Wolves traded goals and power play opportunities throughout the game with both teams looking dominant and also showing their flaws.

On a late power play in the third period, Frederic Allard tied the game at four with a banked-in goal on the line. After an exhausting overtime period, Yakov Trenin secured the victory in round seven of the shootout.

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Eeli Tolvanen: Tolvanen has quietly racked up six points (1g-5a) in seven games for the Admirals. He’s been getting good looks, especially on the power play, but Donovan has been firing on all cylinders there.

Tolvanen makes a really smart play below by pulling three defenders off of him after a clean zone entry before making a beautiful cross-ice pass for a primary assist:

His skating has been average but that was to be expected. Regardless, he seems to be navigating passing lanes better, but his shooting accuracy could use some work.

Frederic Allard: You all know I have been screaming about how Allard is the best defenseman in the system, and he’s putting it all together. Through seven games, Allard is third on the team in points with seven and finally notched his first goal of the season to tie the game late on Sunday.

He’s all over the ice: starting rushes through the neutral zone, playing in the slot and down low on the power play, and back-checking to break up solid scoring chances. Below you’ll notice Allard roaming in the slot on the power play, constantly moving, and making sure his stick is in or out of lanes as need be:

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Colin Blackwell: Blackwell has only appeared in one game this season after sticking around the Preds’ training camp for some time. Tyler Moy and Carl Persson getting called up from the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators suggest to me Blackwell is dealing with an undisclosed injury.

Joonas Lyytinen: Donovan’s emergence as a top-pairing defenseman and Filip Pyrochta’s strong play has forced Joonas Lyytinen out of the lineup for all but three games. I was really looking forward to a strong season from him, and his benching might just be experience-related but, nonetheless, I’m not certain how much he’ll find himself in the lineup.

Final Thoughts

With Troy Grosenick getting called up to Nashville until at least next Sunday, Tom McCollum will take the majority of starts for the time being. But I would be shocked if Miroslav Svoboda doesn’t start a game for the Ads this week, considering they have a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.

I’m interested to see what shakes out with the Admirals’ fourth line. Iterations of the team under Evason relied heavily on AHL-contract players like Mark Zengerle to fill in voids, but this year’s team has solid forward depth. On Sunday, Blackwell, Gaudet, Gregoire, and Persson were scratched in favor of Moy and Matthew Lane. As of now, Persson and Magwood have switched with Atlanta. Blackwell and Gaudet should be locks if they’re healthy, but Gregoire looked good early, and I imagine the organization is itching to get Moy solid playing time.

The Admirals are three games from the 10-game mark where Tolvanen can decided to return to the KHL or not. The organization has made it clear their preference, but it’s possible Saturday against Manitoba is his last AHL game for the time being.

All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com.