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Milwaukee Musings: Overtime Thrillers

Why you always leaving points on the table, Milwaukee?

Milwaukee Admirals

The Admirals came off the All Star break with back-to-back overtime losses to teams they should’ve beat. They have trouble enough some nights chasing the Grand Rapids and Chicagos of the world so sacrificing points like that is not helpful for the playoff hunt.

Milwaukee has four straight home games this week in a perfect opportunity to take some big steps up the standings. They will welcome Texas, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Chicago, and San Antonio to town.

Headlines & Standings

Central Division Standings - 2/4
theAHL.com
  • Colin Blackwell was recalled to Nashville after the All-Star Break to play as the 12th forward with Austin Watson leaving the active roster. Blackwell has skated in only 16 games for Milwaukee this season, scoring 7 goals.
  • Tyler Gaudet has three points in his last four games since returning to the lineup from injury. He missed three games shortly before the All-Star Break.
  • Matt Donovan revealed this week that Nashville actually tried to sign him a few years back before he went to Sweden to play for Frolunda, and that he had an understanding with the team about earning a two-way deal when signing an AHL contract last off-season.

Weekly Game Recap

February 1: Milwaukee Admirals v. Manitoba Moose

Box Score - 2/1
theAHL.com

The Moose opened the scoring with a low-danger chance from the point, despite a period largely controlled by the Admirals. Jeremy Gregoire tied it up, collecting his own rebound, and Yakov Trenin gave Milwaukee the lead with a blast from Tolvanen’s spot on the power play.

Manitoba added another from the very high slot on the power play in the third before winning it on a wide-open rebound in overtime.

February 2: Milwaukee Admirals v. Rockford IceHogs

Box Score - 2/2
theAHL.com

Periods one and two went by with tons of shots but no goals or many high-danger chances. The IceHogs added a quick one early in the third and benefited from a lucky bounce for their second of the night.

With a little over two minutes to go, the Admirals’ power play went to work and Pettersson, Donovan, and Tolvanen connected for a brilliant display of passing. Yakov Trenin tucked one home with under a minute to play to send things to overtime, where Rockford capitalized on a defensive mismatch to take home the victory.

Trending Up

Yakov Trenin: Back in November, Colin Cudmore noted how much Yakov Trenin could benefit from more ice time, and he’s finally starting to get it. Rachel pointed out that the line of Trenin, Joe Pendenza, and Anthony Richard has developed well over the past handful of games, and it’s benefited Trenin the most: he has eight points in his last six games and nine in his last 10.

It’s tough seeing Karl Taylor continuing with cliche lines about Trenin “playing big,” simply because he’s displayed a knack for play nearly anywhere on the ice lately, scoring from the high slot, on tips in front, and with well-placed shots from the circles.

Above is a really subtle play from Trenin, but it caught my eye. Notice as the defender is walking the blue line Trenin is initially open to the puck with his stick on the ice. As he reads the impending shot, he uses his well-established position (due mostly to poor defense) to close his body back into a full-body screen in front of the goalie.

Trending Down

Justin Kirkland: Kirkland seems likely to record a career-high in points this season in the AHL—he’s one back of last year’s 18 and four back of his rookie year’s 21—but he’s gone cold of late. Kirkland last scored on January 9, and, before that, his last marker was December 11; he’s got five points in 14 games since the turn of the calendar.

He had a brief stint on the top line in January but has been relegated back to centering the fourth line or playing the wing on line three. His AHL career has largely been defined by inconsistent production and rotating assignments up and down the lineup.

Final Thoughts

Not much to leave here that you don’t already know. It was a short week for Milwaukee with the All Star break, but the final stretch of the season is already here.

With Frédéric Allard out of the lineup, Alexandre Carrier has benefited from playing with Matt Donovan once again, but that could change once Allard recovers from injury.

Rachel and I concur that the penalty kill is operating at a really excellent rate right now and the personnel are there to keep that up the rest of the season: Kirkland, Pendenza, Gaudet, etc.

It seems like the offense is finally starting to get rolling with Trenin heating up, Cole Schneider catalyzing Nicholas Baptiste, Anthony Richard and Emil Pettersson continuing their production, and, as Rachel made sure to note, Eeli Tolvanen becoming a more independent, available player in more parts of the offensive zone.

I anticipate this club has about 15 games or so to really figure things out if they want to get out of the first round. Reinforcements will be on the way in Blackwell, Di Giuseppe and maybe some tryout signings from juniors or college, but there is still much to be desired if this club wants to contend.

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