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Milwaukee Musings: A December to not remember (so far)

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Texas was not kind to the Admirals.

St. Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche

The Admirals went on a Texas road trip this past week, and it’s up for debate how much hockey they actually played. Two games against the Texas Stars and one against the San Antonio Rampage saw Milwaukee score four goals total and allow 10.

The Ads return home this week to face Grand Rapids and Texas before traveling to Michigan on Saturday.

Headlines & Standings

AHL Central Standings - 12/10
theAHL.com
  • Last Wednesday, the Admirals announced they signed defenseman Duncan Siemens to an AHL contract for the rest of the season. Siemens was selected 11th overall by Colorado in 2011, but has only played 25 NHL games and 274 AHL games since then. Siemens attended the Flames’ training camp on a tryout in September.
  • Forward Alex Overhardt has joined the Admirals for the last two games from Atlanta. The training-camp invite scored an AHL contract with Milwaukee in September and has nine points in 17 games for the Gladiators.
  • Forward Colin Blackwell remains on the sideline for Milwaukee, presumably with a shoulder injury. Blackwell was expected to be a large driver of offense for Milwaukee this season but has skated in just 11 games.

Weekly Game Recap

December 5: Milwaukee Admirals @ Texas Stars

Box Score - 12/5
theAHL.com

Not much to say about this one. Breakaway goal, power play goal right from the slot, 2-on-1 goal, breakaway goal, and another 2-on-1 goal.

Garret Ross scored his first goal as an Admiral in an otherwise horrid outing.

December 7: Milwaukee Admirals @ Texas Stars

Box Score - 12/7
theAHL.com

The Stars scored a minute and a half into the game on a perfect 2-on-1 and then added another a few minutes later off a defensive breakdown by the forward group. Connor Brickley cut the lead in half later in the first on a rebound, power play goal.

Alexandre Carrier tied things up early in the second on a wrist shot from the point. But Landon Bow kept things equal and the Stars scored the game-winner on another defensive breakdown later in the second.

December 8: Milwaukee Admirals @ San Antonio Rampage

Box Score - 12/8
theAHL.com

This one was a fairly even tilt throughout with no scoring until the third period. Former Admiral Trevor Smith opened the scoring before Tyler Gaudet—who has been one of Milwaukee’s most consistent players this season—tied it.

Jordan Binnington, who was just recalled to St. Louis, played an outstanding game and swallowed up a handful of rebound chances. Frederic Allard was whistled for hooking Joey LaLeggia on a breakaway in overtime; he tucked home the game-winner on the ensuing penalty shot.

Trending Up

Yakov Trenin: One of my biggest complaints with the team last season was the Trenin was not played enough when he came back from injury, and that seems to be the case again. Of all Milwaukee forwards who have played 200 or more minutes, he is averaging the least amount of ice time.

Trenin is averaging just under ten minutes a night despite the fact that the Admirals only allow 1.37 goals against per 60 minutes when he is on the ice, and that he has a 23.39% relative goals-for percentage (good for fifth among all AHL forwards with 200+ minutes). This means the Admirals are scoring nearly 24% of their goals with Trenin on the ice.

Additionally, six of Trenin’s eight points are primary ones, and he is scoring 1.64 primary points per 60 minutes, which is very, very good.

This data is all thanks to Colin Cudmore’s (@CudmoreColin) updated AHL charts:

Trending Down

Nicholas Baptiste: I could’ve gone many directions for this choice, but I wanted to follow up on my remarks last week about Milwaukee’s scoring challenges, and I thought I’d stick to referencing Colin’s charts.

Baptiste has seven total points in 27 games, but is averaging closer to 11 minutes per game of ice time. He’s scoring 0.79 primary points per 60 minutes (only three of his seven are primary), and he has the second-worst GF% Rel of all AHL forwards who have skated 200+ minutes at negative 35.8% (ahead of only Keegan Kolesar).

The clip above is a good example of his frustrating play. He makes a solid pass for a clean zone entry and shot on goal but then just floats/gets pushed out of his lane and then loses an easy puck battle in the corner, turning play up ice the other direction.

From a player who scored 0.55 points per game in the AHL before this season, Milwaukee needs more 5-on-5 production from Baptiste.

Final Thoughts

It’s been a tough stretch for the Admirals, and since the AHL schedule prioritizes divisional match-ups, it isn’t getting any easier soon. At this point in the season, all is not lost; they still sit second in their division. But you get the feeling they aren’t capable of switching gears in-game; when it rains it pours, as they say. For instance, the first Stars game felt completely over after the Stars’ second goal.

Something else that has bugged Rachel and me is a complete dismissal of detail. Aside from a few players, clean zone exits have been hard to come by, as have crisp passes in the neutral zone. In the final ten minutes of the second Stars game, the Admirals didn’t have a single controlled zone entry.

Finally, there have been a few notable forwards that have stood out on the forecheck; Anthony Richard, Tyler Gaudet and Mathieu Olivier come to mind. But there seems to be a disconnect between them and the rest of the forward group. Too often Forwards 2 & 3 are going off for an untimely change or floating in the neutral zone on dump and chase plays. Emil Petterssen can be excellent at controlled zone entries, but he often slows the play down and uses his stick-work to beat defenders or drive wide rather than contribute effectively to a fast press below the face-off circles.

This team has largely been its own worst enemy but still has plenty of time to sort things out.

All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com and eliteprospects.com.