Coming off somewhat of a bounceback week where Milwaukee picked up their second and third wins of the season, the Nashville farm club was hopeful their early-season fortunes had turned for the better. The results of the last three games, however, proved otherwise.
Milwaukee opened the week with a 4-3 overtime loss to Manitoba; the score doesn’t do the Moose’s dominance in that game justice. The Admirals then traveled to Iowa for two weekend tilts, losing both and getting outscored 9-3 in the process.
11 games in, Milwaukee still sits last in the Central Division and, by win percentage, last in the entire American Hockey League with a 3-7-1 record.
Milwaukee Admirals (3) vs. Manitoba Moose (4)
Possibly the only positive note from this game was Connor Ingram’s performance. The netminder turned away 56 of 60 shots in an otherworldly showing. Unfortunately, those 60 shots were countered by just 16 from Milwaukee.
You read that right; the Admirals didn’t hit double-digit shots in any period against Manitoba. The issues I’ve highlighted this season about ineffective breakouts leading Milwaukee to get stuck in the defensive zone for several minutes were on full display in this one. But—remarkably—the Ads held a 3-1 lead on Manitoba well into the second period thanks to goals from Cole Schneider, Cole Smith, and Egor Afanasyev.
The Moose tied things up via two power-play goals as Milwaukee’s penalty-taking woes continued (Manitoba went 4 for 6 on the man advantage that night). Eventually, a completely outmatched Admirals squad limped its way to overtime only to be beaten on a power-play goal once more.
Milwaukee Admirals (0) @ Iowa Wild (5)
Giving up 60 shots, and sacrificing a 3-1 lead to lose in overtime, would normally give a team a flair of vengeance going into their next game. Instead, Milwaukee came out against Iowa on Saturday looking like an ECHL team or worse.
Connor Ingram started in goal but only lasted 40 minutes as the Wild steadily and precisely picked apart nearly every layer of Milwaukee’s game. There was no drive, jump, fire...whatever you want to call it. Over the weekend, I broke down what issues we saw on Saturday that have plagued the Ads this season:
What went wrong for Milwaukee last night?— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) November 14, 2021
The Ads lost 5-0 to Iowa, dropping their record to 3-6-1 (good for last in the division). So what happened last night and what issues have been endemic all season?#Preds
A thread... (1/8)
There was virtually no offensive attack time, especially in the first two periods when they totaled just 12 shots, and any zone time was marred by stagnant forwards who couldn’t win puck battles and low-danger perimeter shots from pinching defenders.
Defensively, the Admirals had some okay moments, but once again the team’s defenders just could not get out of their own zone with little support from the wingers and were getting beaten in puck battles often despite outnumbering Iowa’s forecheckers. Every mildly successful zone exit was slow-moving as the Admirals were practically begging the Wild to step up and stop them in the neutral zone, which they did with nearly unanimous success.
All told, it was probably their worst performance this year and one of the worst we’ve seen from this team in years.
Milwaukee Admirals (3) @ Iowa Wild (4)
On Sunday, Milwaukee took an excellent opportunity at revenge on Iowa and squandered it quickly. Rocco Grimaldi, in his second game with the Ads, slid over to the center position on a top line with Cole Schneider and Patrick Harper; Cody Glass and Egor Afanasyev were separated onto the following two lines, respectively.
Expectations were high that Grimaldi would provide a bit of energy into this lethargic lineup, but four shots are all he could muster this weekend. There were certainly moments where his confidence as an AHL veteran was apparent, particularly in some breakout scenarios, but overall he did little to catalyze the forward group.
After an okay first period, the Admirals surrendered three quick special teams’ goals in period two before Mitch McLain responded with his own power-play tally. McLain struck again in period three, but Kyle Rau added an insurance marker for Iowa before Matt Luff could respond.
Glass, McLain, and Luff were some of the few bright spots from this contest, particularly the latter who notched a 61.5% Corsi at even strength and recorded 32.0 shot attempts per 60 minutes (including 8.0 high-danger shot attempts). Otherwise, Glass has struggled against top competition this year (43.9% Corsi in two games tracked).
Both Glass and Luff, however, have been largely excellent in transition. The latter could use a speedy winger on his line to better retrieve pucks dumped in, but he did have a 66.7% controlled zone exit rate and 50.0% controlled zone entry rate on Sunday.
On Monday, Milwaukee released forward Avery Peterson from his professional tryout (PTO) and signed forward Graham Knott to a PTO. Knott, a former second-round pick of Chicago, has 22 points in 137 career AHL games and 43 points in 87 career ECHL games.
The Admirals will visit Manitoba on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday nights this week.