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Milwaukee Musings: New Year, Probably the Same Admirals

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Up and Down. Up and Down.

@paulus_scott I Milwaukee Admirals

Milwaukee is in its very own skid right now, dropping their last five contests and eight of 11 in the month of December. To kick off the new year the Admirals will travel to Rockford on Wednesday before their Pennsylvania trip to visit the Baby Penguins and Bears this weekend.

Headlines & Standings

Central Division Standings - 1/1
theAHL.com
  • On Friday, defender Joonas Lyytinen was placed on waivers for the purpose of contract termination. The 2014 fifth-round pick appeared in 20 games for Milwaukee this year, totaling three assists. He has skated in 54 career AHL contests (1g-7a–8pts) and nine ECHL contests (4g-2a–6pts).
  • Additionally, the Admirals signed defender Desmond Bergin to a professional tryout offer. Bergin played four years at Harvard and has since appeared in eight AHL contests and 146 ECHL contests, totaling 26 goals and 81 points in the ECHL. He has yet to register an AHL point.
  • Former Predators prospect Trevor Murphy was traded on Friday from the Coyotes organization to the Ducks in exchange for Giovanni Fiore. Since leaving Milwaukee, Murphy has appeared in 38 games for the Tuscon Roadrunners (7g-15a–22pts) and eight games for the Coyotes (1g-2a–3pts).

Weekly Game Recap

December 19: Milwaukee Admirals @ Rockford IceHogs

Box Score - 12/19
theAHL.com

The Admirals dominated the first period in this one leading 3-1 after 20 minutes. Sadly, they slowly let the IceHogs back into things with a couple defensive breakdowns. In overtime, a bad turnover on the wall of the offensive zone led to the game-winning goal on a 3-on-1 for Rockford.

December 22: Milwaukee Admirals v. Chicago Wolves

Box Score - 12/22
theAHL.com

The Admirals have developed a bizarre way of defending odd-man rushes and it showed, particularly on goal number two for the Wolves. Milwaukee was never really in this one despite heavily out-shooting Chicago. They went into the third period down three goals and didn’t answer until only two minutes remained in the game.

December 26: Milwaukee Admirals v. Chicago Wolves

Box Score - 12/26
theAHL.com

Another breakdown on an odd-man rush allowed Brooks Macek of the Wolves to open the scoring, and the Wolves added another before Milwaukee answered with a marker from Frederic Allard. Chicago iced the game with two more in the third period, both from Daniel Carr.

December 29: Milwaukee Admirals @ Iowa Wild

Box Score - 12/29
theAHL.com

Joel Eriksson Ek opened the scoring on the power play for Iowa in the first and added his second of the game in the third. Former Admiral Mike Liambas took on Jeremy Gregoire and Jarred Tinordi in scraps. Matt Donovan answered late in the third, but the Admirals went on to drop their fifth straight, going 0-for-6 on the man-advantage in the process.

Trending Up

Nicholas Baptiste: Baptiste was recalled by the Predators on Monday as injury problems persist in Nashville, though he was sent back down Tuesday night. He had a slow start to the season for a player who should be scoring well in the AHL with pointless streaks of three games, ten games and five games.

But he has points in five of his last seven games with 18 shots on net in that span and now leads the team on the season with 72. A strong second half will require more consistent performances from players like Baptiste, as well as Colin Blackwell when he returns from injury.

Trending Down

Filip Pyrochta: This isn’t so much a ‘Trending Down’ as it is a ‘We’ll See’. After sitting in the press box for five games in a row, Pyrochta has seen the ice the past three games and that should only increase with Joonas Lyytinen returning to Finland.

Duncan Siemens seems to have found a permanent lineup spot, so the sixth spot on defense will be up for grabs between Pyrochta, Brian Cooper, and Desmond Bergin. Pyrochta has three assists in 24 games this season, but has spent most of his ice time in the defensive zone. I think his progression has been fine so far, and it will require increased ice time for us to truly see what we have in the Czech defenseman.

Final Thoughts

Riding a four-game losing streak into 2019 is not exactly where the Admirals wanted to be right now. This team has been wildly inconsistent after a quick start to the season and has now dropped to fifth in the ultra-competitive Central Division. It’s easy to fall behind when you drop three divisional games in a week, but it can be just as easy to climb back up. The Admirals are four wins back of the Chicago Wolves but also only four wins ahead of the Manitoba Moose.

I don’t think this team is elite offensively or defensively. Grosenick can steal games, and this team can play sound games, but they won’t have a chance to compete with teams like the Wolves offensively until Tolvanen, Blackwell and maybe Grimaldi return to Milwaukee.

But there are things that can be tightened up in the meantime. The Admirals’ power play struggles continue as they have the sixth worst conversion percentage in the league at 14.7%. Some of these losses could have been completely avoided with just one power-play goal on three, four, five, etc. chances with the man advantage.

So, we’ll see what 2019 has in store for an Admirals team looking to return to the playoffs.

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