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Milwaukee Musings: An Even Split

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Still can’t really tell if the Admirals are good or not.

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Milwaukee Admirals

The Admirals suited up twice over the weekend and came away with split results. Milwaukee now sits tied for first in their division with 31 points and two more games played than Iowa. The Admirals will visit Texas this week, facing the Texas Stars on Wednesday and Friday followed by the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday.

Headlines & Standings

AHL Central Standings - 12/3
theAHL.com
  • Anthony Richard and Eeli Tolvanen were recalled to Nashville on Saturday and both played against the Blackhawks. Tolvanen scored his first NHL goal and added an assist in 15:48 of ice time (including 2:45 on the power play). Richard played 7:22 and was reassigned to Milwaukee.
  • I know I’ve harped on this a lot, but the Admirals power play remains at 14.3%, scoring 15 times on 105 opportunities. The Central Division is entirely within five wins of each other, and, although the Ads are tied for first, an uptick in the power play could really boost their position.
  • Once two of Forsberg, Arvidsson, Turris and Subban return from injury, someone will be sent back down (assuming no further IR placements). Is it Rocco Grimaldi or Tolvanen? Plus, who will be the third player reassigned when all four players are healthy? Waivers could be in play for Zac Rinaldo or Miikka Salomaki if it isn’t Frederick Gaudreau.
  • This isn’t quite a headline, but I was reminded this weekend that at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, the Predators selected Justin Kirkland 62nd overall. Kirkland had 48 points in 68 games for Kelowna in 2013-14. The Lightning took Brayden Point 79th overall. Point had 91 points in 72 games for Moose Jaw, and he now has 140 points in 177 NHL games.

Weekly Game Recap

November 30: Milwaukee Admirals vs. Texas Stars

Box Score - 11/30
theAHL.com

The Stars got on the board early, thanks to a power play tally from Erik Condra, and controlled much of the game from that point forward. Adam Mascherin added two goals in the second period and Joel L’Esperance added one in the third.

Milwaukee finally answered on a power play goal from Matt Donovan (surprising, right?) with three minutes to go in regulation.

December 1: Milwaukee Admirals @ Rockford IceHogs

Box Score - 12/1
theAHL.com

Connor Brickley finally returned to the score sheet with a deflection in the final part of the first period. Alexandre Carrier followed up a couple minutes later with his first of the season by collecting his own rebound off a solid keep-in at the blue line.

McCollum stayed sharp, stopping all 28 shots he faced, including an impressive four-save sequence in the second period.

Justin Kirkland added a tally in the third to ice the game for Milwaukee.

Trending Up

Connor Brickley: Brickley tallied his fourth goal of the season against Rockford and now sits at six points in 24 games. Brickley has largely been invisible this season but has looked more engaged—probably out of necessity—with several forwards out of the lineup.

Brickley has been on a slide offensively since scoring 47 points in 73 AHL games in 2014-15. In 2015-16, he had 27 points in 45 games and had 26 in 69 games in 2016-17.

Trending Down

Alexandre Carrier: Carrier scored his first goal of the season on Saturday in Rockford and is on pace for career-worst offensive numbers. His pairing with Matt Donovan appears permanent for the time being, and he still isn’t making the most of things considering his ice time as seen below.

Carrier’s 2018-19 offensive production
prospect-stats.com

Getting away from Jarred Tinordi has, naturally, improved his defense per the eye-test, but it feels like he’s continuing to slide in his development.

Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) has made a visualization mapping Emmanuel Perry’s (@manny_hockey) data on AHL players. These projections are by no means the end-all-be-all, but it shows Carrier with just a 6.04% chance to make the NHL with a -0.24 wins-above-replacement over 82 games. He is 19th out of 25 defenders from his draft class in points per game in the AHL this season, and also 19th in wins above replacement.

Watch out for a piece from me later on with a deeper dive into Carrier’s struggles.

Final Thoughts

As Rachel noted to me, the most exciting part of this week for the Admirals seemed to be the recalls. Grosenick and McCollum are largely holding down the fort, but the forward group isn’t answering the bell, as the Admirals’ positive goal differential has shrunk to +6. This week is a solid opportunity to string a few divisional wins together in a row.

I touched on this with Brickley a tad, but depth scoring has been non-existent for Milwaukee—a problem last year’s team had as well. Only seven players have double-digit points: two are defenders, and two are in the NHL at the moment. Tyler Gaudet has impressed me with nine points in 20 games as someone who shouldn’t be expected to carry the offensive load. But Yakov Trenin, Nicholas Baptiste, Jeremy Gregoire, and Connor Brickley have been stagnant with around six to eight points each. The Admirals continue to miss Colin Blackwell and cannot rely on Mathieu Olivier, Zach Magwood, and Tanner Jeannot to be consistent producers.

Garret Ross has been loaned from the Atlanta Gladiators for the past few games, posting one assist in the process. He has looked okay, but this highlights the point I made a few weeks ago about call-up depth post-Moy/Persson.

Finally, to end your reading with some fun, check out this article on Matt Donovan.

All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com, eliteprospects.com, and corsica.hockey.