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Milwaukee Musings: Getting Back On Track

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Milwaukee shoots back to the top of the division with a solid week.

Milwaukee Admirals

The Admirals collected two wins against the Grand Rapids Griffins and Texas Stars this week before giving up a two-goal lead and losing in a shootout to Grand Rapids on Saturday.

They’ll face off at Rockford and play at home versus Chicago this week before their own holiday break.

Headlines & Standings

AHL Standings - 12/19
theAHL.com
  • Duncan Siemens saw his first action for the Admirals playing two games and tallying one assist. Siemens spent most of his icetime on the third pairing.
  • The Admirals are up to #6 in Patrick Williams’ weekly AHL Power Rankings for EP Rinkside, after pacing themselves to one point ahead of the San Jose Barracuda for the conference lead.
  • Speaking of Patrick Williams, he writes some excellent stuff, and he touches on Anthony Richard and Emil Pettersson in his column found here.
  • Expect a decision to come this week on whether the Predators will loan Eeli Tolvanen to Team Finland for the World Junior Championship.

Weekly Game Recap

December 11: Milwaukee Admirals v. Grand Rapids Griffins

12/11 Box Score
theAHL.com

The Admirals opened the week by allowing a goal to bounce off Tyler Gaudet in tight on Tom McCollum, but answered with three goals in the second period from Nick Baptiste (his first since Oct. 30), Garrett Ross, and Emil Pettersson.

Milwaukee added two more in the third period from Connor Brickley and Justin Kirkland to take the 5-2 victory.

December 14: Milwaukee Admirals v. Texas Stars

12/14 Box Score
theAHL.com

Anthony Richard picked up a goal in the first and Frederic Allard added to it in the second, putting the Admirals up 2-0 heading into the third period.

Joel L’Esperance added a power play marker, and Justin Dowling tied the game late in the third period before Anthony Richard scored his second of the night in overtime.

December 15: Milwaukee Admirals @ Grand Rapids Griffins

12/15 Box Score
theAHL.com

After a slick opening goal by Jarred Tinordi, the Admirals and Griffins traded first period goals ending the period with two apiece - the Griffins scoring both of theirs on the power play.

Emil Pettersson added a third on the Admirals' fifth shot on net, and Anthony Richard added a fourth, tallying on a 5-on-3 power play. The Griffins tied the game with a well-placed wrist shot and a bad bounce before winning the game in the shootout.

Trending Up

Tyler Gaudet: Gaudet collected two assists and five shots on goal this week, bringing his season totals to 12 points and 49 shots. Rachel points out that Gaudet has been developing into an excellent, play-driving center with physical but smart play, and she is spot on. Two plays of his stood out to me this week:

Here we see a perfect forecheck from him and Connor Brickley creating a turnover. Gaudet heads to the net front to act as a screen for Brickley’s goal.

On this play - despite allowing a goal - Gaudet quietly does the right play by tracking the opposing center from the draw through the slot. He ties him up quickly but not enough to draw a penalty and makes him a non-factor in the ensuing goal.

Additionally, Gaudet’s underlying numbers look solid, too.

Gaudet’s GF/60 v. GA/60
@CudmoreColin

Gaudet is only allowing 1.5 goals-against per sixty minutes of 5-on-5 play, which is the third best of Milwaukee forwards behind Yakov Trenin and Mathieu Olivier. Additionally, Gaudet has a Relative GF% of 22.5% giving context that he has been one of the better offense-driving forwards for Milwaukee.

Trending Down

The Defense’s Bottom Pairing: With this pairing now a rotating committee of four players - Cooper, Lyytinen, Pyrochta, and Siemens - I’m curious to see which pair emerges as the best option. Although Cooper (18), Lyytinen (20), and Pyrochta (21) have each played a decent amount, I will wait for Siemens's sample size to grow before casting judgement.

On the surface, Cooper has been the worst defensively with a 72.7% goals-against percentage, but Lyytinen and Pyrochta are not far behind at 61.1% and 62.5%, respectively. I don’t expect this pairing to be dominant by any means - that’s what the third pair is for - and Lyytinen and Pyrochta are relatively young. We’ll see what stability - if any - Siemens provides.

Final Thoughts

Now that we are 30 games into the season, we are starting to see some regular offensive lines cement themselves. Of note, Anthony Richard and Emil Pettersson have played really well together. Richard is having a career year, and Pettersson has quietly rocketed himself near the team lead in scoring. A fully-equipped Admirals team has the offensive depth to tango; it’s just a matter of elevating ice time for those who would benefit: Gaudet, Trenin, etc.

While Milwaukee is at the top of their division, there have been some ugly hiccups this season, and last Saturday was no exception. As Rachel astutely pointed out, part of what undid Milwaukee in their shootout loss to Grand Rapids was penalties. The Admirals are lucky they have one of the better penalty kills in the league (85.8%), because they have accrued the seventh most penalty minutes league-wide.

Finally, Frederic Allard continues to impress with 17 points in 30 games. His skating has always been there, but his decision-making has visibly improved this season. I know it can seem weird when the talk has long been about Fabbro and Carrier, but he is the closest to regular minutes in the NHL. Unfortunately, David Poile has created a log jam at the bottom of the defensive unit in Nashville. Regardless, Allard should seriously challenge for a roster spot in 2019-20.

All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com, @CudmoreColin and eliteprospects.com.