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Milwaukee Musings: Admirals Make Most of Weekend Out West

Can Milwaukee build on their recent progress?

Milwaukee Admirals

It was a busy week for this middling Admirals team looking to string together some momentum to start 2022. Last Wednesday, Milwaukee dropped a home contest to Manitoba before traveling out west to face the Colorado Eagles twice and lose twice in a shootout. On Monday, Connor Ingram backstopped the Admirals to a shutout win over Iowa, improving their record to 14-18-4. Their 0.444 points percentage is good for sixth in the Central Division.

Despite some still obvious deficiencies, Milwaukee earned four out of six possible points on their three-game road trip and can build on that against a weak Texas team this evening.

Quick Hits

  • Last week, Nashville recalled Cole Smith (F) and reassigned Tommy Novak (F) back to Milwaukee. Novak left last Wednesday’s game after two periods with an apparent upper-body injury
  • Cody Glass (F) was briefly recalled to Nashville’s taxi squad but was returned over the weekend. Glass left Sunday’s game late with a possible injury
  • Tomas Vomacka (G) was reassigned to Florida (ECHL) on Sunday
  • Jeremy Davies (D) was recalled to Nashville’s taxi squad on Sunday, and Matt Luff (F) was reassigned to Milwaukee yesterday

Milwaukee Admirals (0) vs. Manitoba Moose (2)

Though the final score doesn’t inspire much confidence, Wednesday’s performance against Manitoba had several positives. At the top of that list is Devin Cooley, who stopped 32 of 33 shots, displaying sorely-needed confidence in defeat; the lone goal he allowed was off a rebound that was near impossible to catch up to.

Milwaukee also limited the Moose’s power plays to just three all game and were perfect on the penalty kill.

Finally, Milwaukee’s defensive pairing of Jeremy Davies and Frederic Allard was excellent at both ends of the ice. Both had an even-strength Corsi north of 60%, they contributed seven individual shot attempts in total, and they allowed just two high-danger shots against. On top of that, they (Davies in particular) put on a masterclass of rush defense; Allard stopped 71.4% of zone entry attempts against him, and Davies stopped 85.7%.

Tommy Novak did not return for the third period after this play, and he did not dress in Milwaukee’s three games since.

Milwaukee Admirals (4) @ Colorado Eagles (5)

Heading out west for the first time this season, Milwaukee was dealt a tough hand early, icing just 17 skaters on Friday night, including nine defenders. With Frederic Allard and Josh Healey playing forward, the Admirals jumped out to a 4-1 lead into the second period with goals from Matt Donovan, Graham Knott, Egor Afanasyev, and Allard.

But then, things quickly fell apart. In the second and third periods, Milwaukee took seven minor penalties and two fighting majors. The Eagles crawled back, outshooting the Admirals 13-7 in period two and eventually tying the game just over a minute into the third. After a scoreless overtime, Milwaukee fell in a shootout.

Nashville Forward Prospects | Dump-In’s vs. Carry-In’s
@OnTheFutureOTF

This contest was another example of Milwaukee’s forward depth failing to create. The Admirals aren’t getting enough out of veterans like Anthony Richard or Mathieu Olivier, who has had a noticeable lack of jump in his skating and confidence in his ability on the forecheck. In two games tracked, including Friday’s, Olivier has dumped the puck in on two-thirds of his zone entry attempts and has failed to win the race to a single one.

Milwaukee Admirals (3) @ Colorado Eagles (4)

For the second half of the weekend’s back-to-back, Milwaukee returned to Devin Cooley who turned in another great performance, stopping 35 of 38 in defeat. The Admirals were back to 18 skaters—11 forwards and seven defenders—but were without big guns like Tommy Novak, Jeremy Davies, and Kole Sherwood.

Colorado struck first, but Rocco Grimaldi responded on the power play off a sweet cross-ice feed from Egor Afanasyev. Milwaukee, whose success has often been reflected in Grimaldi’s, is 8-2-1 this season when he scores. The Eagles responded with two more goals, but Milwaukee answered with two from Grant Mismash and Cole Schneider. The Admirals ultimately dropped a second shootout loss to Colorado.

Mismash has struggled to generate much in the bottom-six this season, but he found a groove this weekend, recording two points; also, remarkably, six of his eight points this season were primary ones scored at even-strength.

Nashville Defense Prospects | Puck Reversal in Transition Success
@OnTheFutureOTF

This was another solid game for David Farrance, who was paired with Matt Donovan. His puck management, patience, and timing in key situations have improved steadily this season, and he’s been phenomenal in transition; the former third-round pick has skated 61.1% of his controlled exits out of the zone himself.

Milwaukee Admirals (3) @ Iowa Wild (0)

On Monday, the Admirals got back on track thanks to a 35-save shutout by Connor Ingram. The defense held its own in front of him for most of the contest, but Ingram had to stand on his head a few times in the final period to preserve the lead.

Milwaukee’s offensive effort was led by the lower end of the lineup, including goals from Zach Solow and Mitch McLain and assists from Joseph LaBate and Dylan Blujus. In fact, the Admirals' top line of Schneider—Knott—Afanasyev struggled against their Iowan counterparts. That unit recorded a 50.0%, 33.3%, and 37.0% Corsi at even-strength, respectively and was mediocre in transition, combining for a 47.6% zone entry success rate. They did combine for eight individual shot attempts, including two from high-danger areas.


The Week Ahead

  • Wednesday, January 19 vs. Texas Stars
  • Saturday, January 22 @ Grand Rapids Griffins

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, theAHL.com, or manually tracked.