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Milwaukee Musings: Kirkland’s Admirals

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Three games. Three shootout wins.

Milwaukee Admirals I @paulus_scott

Three wins in their pocket, but did the Admirals look this week too much like they did last March?

Headlines & Standings

AHL Standings - 11/26
theAHL.com
  • The Admirals scored one power play goal this past week on 14 opportunities dropping their success rate to 14.3%. It’s a lot of perimeter passing and over-reliance on Allard and Donovan that’s killing them. Notably, they failed to convert on a 5-on-3 against Rockford in overtime.
  • Garrett Ross was recalled from Atlanta to play on Saturday in place of Rocco Grimaldi and Colin Blackwell. Karl Taylor’s line shuffling — particularly at center — is reminiscent of last season.
  • Anthony Richard played his 150th AHL game over the weekend. He has 12 points in 20 games this season and is going through somewhat of a scoring slump right now.
  • Frederic Allard and Alexandre Carrier swapped pairings over the weekend as Allard skated with Tinordi and Carrier with Donovan. Allard and Donovan remained on the top power play unit together.

Weekly Game Recap

November 21: Milwaukee Admirals vs. Iowa Wild

11/21 Box Score
theAHL.com

The Admirals gave up a rebound goal early from a defensive breakdown but answered back with two goals from Tanner Jeannot and Matt Donovan before the period ended. Who had the primary assist on both of those markers? Frederic Allard.

The Wild tied the game up on the power play in the second with a shot from the point that cleanly beat Grosenick. But, Justin Kirkland was the lone scorer in the shootout and claimed victory for the Admirals.

November 23: Milwaukee Admirals @ Grand Rapids Griffins

11/23 Box Score
theAHL.com

Matt Puempel opened the scoring for Grand Rapids on a rebound in the first; the Griffins held the lead into the second period when Mathieu Olivier put one home after Jarred Tinordi led the rush up ice.

Puempel cleaned up another rebound in the third period, and Jeannot answered instantly. Anthony Richard scored in the shootout, and Grosenick shut the door once again.

November 24: Milwaukee Admirals vs. Rockford Ice Hogs

11/24 Box Score
theAHL.com

The Admirals and Ice Hogs traded weak goals in the first period as Grosenick turned the puck over from behind the net leading to a score, and Justin Kirkland saw his shot off a drive to the net leak in.

Both power plays were useless, and it was Kirkland and Richard scoring in the shootout and Grosenick staying perfect that won the Admirals their third straight shootout.

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Frederic Allard: You’ve heard this before, but Allard is crushing it in the AHL this season. He leads all under-25 defensemen in scoring with 15 points and leads the Admirals — and is second in among all defensmen — in shots with 52. He’s molding into an incredibly sound defenseman and a remarkable offensive threat.

On this primary assist, Allard corrals the puck and in one motion notices a clogged shooting lane and sends a crisp pass to Jeannot — who is still opening up his stick — all before he completely establishes his body position.

On the penalty kill in the clip above, Allard does give the puck away on his clearing attempt, but I would suggest Puempel was in the right place at the right time. More importantly, Allard does a decent job of clearing both crashing forwards sticks out of rebound opportunities covering for his partner, Tinordi, who does little to assist until the last minute.

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Jarred Tinordi: I really hate beating a dead horse, but Tinordi is just too bad. I’m intrigued by the decision to switch Allard and Carrier and giving him a more dynamic partner. Allard is a much better skater with better positioning, but Tinordi is just so static. Additionally, he often makes poor zone-exit decisions and has weak first passes.

Rachel notes that he barely touched the ice during overtime this weekend and for good reason. If I’m Karl Taylor, one of Allard or Donovan should be out there at all times in any extra session.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to digest from this past week. If you follow On The Future on Twitter, you know I pointed out that Karl Taylor openly admitted to the Admirals’ uselessness on the power play and over-reliance on Justin Kirkland to win games in shootouts.

By the way, if you have time on your hands and are curious, watch all of Kirkland’s shootout goals from the past three seasons - almost an identical move each time.

There was a stretch last spring where the Admirals picked up a bunch of shootout wins - almost entirely thanks to Kirkland - and convinced themselves they could take a run at the playoffs. Four wins in a row is great, but don’t be fooled: the Admirals are still not playing all that well.

Rachel pointed out that there were ample examples from these three games of dump-ins not being met by a forechecking forward on the opposite side; the Admirals have just been handing over puck battles. They aren’t the fastest team outside of a few players (Grimaldi, Richard, Blackwell, etc.) and aren’t helping themselves with lazy passing in the neutral zone and non-committal zone entries.

There are a few big bodies that have good offensive instincts - particularly below the hash marks - that are getting out-played by the likes of Tyler Gaudet and Tanner Jeannot. Justin Kirkland and Yakov Trenin come to mind.

Rocco Grimaldi will be absent from the lineup for the time being - that’s a lot of skill and leadership being taken. Gaudet, Blackwell and Emil Pettersson are three guys who can drive possession from the far-half of the neutral zone into the offensive zone that need to show up.

Finally, Eeli Tolvanen is starting to play with better nuance and awareness in the defensive zone. Patience is key, and I think if the Admirals can figure out how to start moving north-south in the offensive zone (especially on the power play), Tolvanen will start picking up more points.

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.