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Milwaukee Musings: Don’t Talk About Des Moines

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Milwaukee gets off to a winning start.

AHL: FEB 22 Milwaukee Admirals at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Milwaukee opened their 2019-20 campaign on the road in Des Moines, where they were last seen exiting the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs at the hands of the Wild. It was another of the painful first-round exits that have been all too common for the franchise this decade.

Despite having a deeper, more talented roster than before, this season Milwaukee allowed Iowa to take control of things and could never regain momentum. The Admirals turned things around with back-to-back wins against Grand Rapids and Laval to close out the week.

They welcome the Colorado Eagles to town on Friday and Saturday before traveling to Chicago to take on the Wolves on Sunday.

Headlines

  • Milwaukee began the season shorthanded as four players were sidelined against Iowa with injury: Frederick Gaudreau, Laurent Dauphin, Tommy Novak and Arwin Atwal
  • Novak returned to the lineup for games two and three
  • Troy Grosenick was injured under two minutes into the contest against Iowa. Connor Ingram came in relief; Grosenick returned to the crease versus Grand Rapids
  • Prior to the season start, Nashville assigned forwards Tanner Jeannot and Zach Magwood to the Florida Everblades (ECHL). Milwaukee assigned Hunter Garlent, Hugo Roy and Adam Smith to Florida and loaned Scott Savage to the Maine Mariners

Stats and Standings

AHL Central Division Standings
theAHL.com

This season, we’ve enlisted the help of Bryan (@projpatsummitt) to condense weekly stats into some data viz as seen below! These will work much like my weekly prospect charts measuring counting stats, goal scoring rates, defensive performances and goaltending relative to league average (you can explore the whole tableau here).

Through three games there are no real surprises: Grosenick had a strong performance against Grand Rapids, Matt Donovan looks good and Allard has been tight defensively, and players like Wilkins, Blackwell, Salomäki and Trenin are leading possession and scoring. Tommy Novak is a name to keep an eye on; he’s been given top-six minutes, so we’ll see if he can produce.

Game Recaps


October 6 @ Iowa Wild

theAHL.com

Milwaukee jumped out to an early lead with Yakov Trenin being awarded the first goal of the season after a Steven Santini shot on goal. The Wild answered 15 seconds later, however, and took control of things with three goals in the second.

Miikka Salomäki added a tap-in goal late in the third (allowing Josh Wilkins his first professional point), but the effort was entirely inadequate as the Wild doubled the Admirals in shots.


October 11 @ Grand Rapids Griffins

theAHL.com

Milwaukee followed up game one with an impressive effort against a stacked Grand Rapids roster. The Admirals opened with two power play goals in the first period and responded again nearly a minute after the Griffins got on the board in period two.

Mathieu Olivier added an empty-net goal for insurance late in the third.


October 12 v. Laval Rocket

theAHL.com

The Admirals’ home opener was a tight affair through most of the contest. Milwaukee traded marks with their rare Eastern Conference opponent through periods one and two before Cole Schneider broke the stalemate with his first of the season.

Milwaukee was shelled with shot attempts in the third but managed to escape and tack on an empty-net goal, too.


Players of the Week

Josh Wilkins (F): Wilkins was a player I was fascinated to watch going into this season. He’s got a similar skill set to Rem Pitlick and torched the NCAA for Providence in 2018-19. While Pitlick has largely been quiet, Wilkins has impressed, scoring four points this week (1g-3a)—good for second on the team.

He picked up his first professional goal on Saturday against the Rocket, and quite clearly did enough in training camp to impress the coaching staff as he was the forward who was double-shifting against the Wild as the Admirals were short one skater. -ED

Yakov Trenin (F): I’m on the Trenin Train, and you should be too. He had a solid training camp and jumped right back into things for Milwaukee. Karl Taylor has kept a line of him, Colin Blackwell and Cole Schneider together from the end of last season, and it’s paid off well for Trenin. His play with the puck is not nearly as predictable as it’s been in past seasons; he’s shown some creativity in a very small sample size. -RK

Musings

Rachel and I are back for another season of weekly Milwaukee coverage. This Admirals team is one of the deepest I can remember in some time (somewhat to my chagrin), and they took week one without two of their best offensive veterans.

There were a couple things I took note of through the first three games, and it seems clear this team has the potential not to ride or die on a few key players like in years past.

  • Trenin and Anthony Richard look like they’re skating a step ahead; it’s only a matter of time for both to dominate at that level.
  • Milwaukee deployed a top power play unit of Richard, Trenin, Jeremy Davies, Eeli Tolvanen and Wilkins. I’m curious how long that stays together, but I like it.
  • Alexandre Carrier continues to be a nightmare on defense. -ED

From Rachel:

  • Miikka Salomäki adds some scoring presence on a team that already has some must-watch names. He’s a known commodity in Milwaukee, so expect to see him on the score sheet fairly regularly. I would, however, like to see less of Salomäki in the penalty box.
  • The Iowa Wild have Milwaukee’s number right now and that’s a team they absolutely have to figure out. This goes for much of the division, too; Grand Rapids should be a tough out each night.
  • Connor Ingram’s second game (first actual start) for the Admirals was quite good. He did not have a good showing in Iowa, but neither did the rest of the team. -RK

All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com and eliteprospects.com. The data viz is courtesy of Bryan Bastin.