Milwaukee Musings: Back From Far Rockaway...er...Rockford
The Admirals got back to their winning ways with 12 goals scored in two games.
The Admirals’ historic 13-game win streak came to an end last Tuesday night in Texas where Milwaukee turned in an ugly performance. But the team quickly rebounded over the weekend, winning back-to-back contests and outscoring their opponents 12-3.
The Admirals finished their two-game road trip in Rockford last night and will square off with the Chicago Wolves in a home-and-home series this weekend.
- Last Wednesday, Nashville reassigned forward Mathieu Olivier to Milwaukee after an eight-game stint
- On Friday, Nashville recalled forward Yakov Trenin, who scored his first NHL goal on Saturday versus New Jersey
- On Saturday, forward Lukas Craggs scored his first professional goal in a win over Rockford/
Stats and Standings
Milwaukee’s top performers have remained consistent much of the season; on offense, Colin Blackwell, Tommy Novak and Yakov Trenin are still leading the way. Players like Pitlick, Richard or Tolvanen are starting to find the net more frequently but have some considerable catching up to do in terms of even-strength production.
Frederic Allard continues to impress at both ends of the ice, allowing just 1.29 goals against per 60 minutes of even-strength ice time and contributing a primary point to 29.41% of the even-strength goals he’s been on ice for (the highest mark among defenders).
December 3 @ Texas Stars
Last Tuesday was ugly for Milwaukee, but it was inevitable a game like this would come soon. The Admirals played a decent first period and opened the scoring in period two with a power-play goal by Yakov Trenin.
But, despite doubling up the Stars in shots, Milwaukee gave up odd-man rush after odd-man rush, resulting in Texas shooting nearly 50% over the final two frames.
December 6 vs. Iowa Wild
This one got ugly, but Milwaukee continued their string of impressive outings against Iowa in 2019-20. Despite a combined 108 penalty minutes, the Admirals notched seven goals from six different scorers: Carrier, Tolvanen, Schneider, Dauphin, Olivier and Jeannot.
December 7 @ Rockford IceHogs
Milwaukee exercised near-total domination of a second period that was sandwiched by two frames with extensive Rockford pressure. Regardless, Lukas Craggs and Steven Santini recorded their first goals as Admirals as the team boosted their impressive goals-per-game average on the season.
Players of the Week
Eeli Tolvanen: Tolvanen finished the week with two goals and four total points on 11 shots on goal. Despite just 13 points on the season, he leads the team with 75 shots, and, as we saw in the second half of last season, is engaging with the puck more below the top of the circles, like in the clip below. He isn’t isolating himself as much waiting for a shooting lane to appear.
Tolvanen has recorded a primary point on just 31.58% of the even-strength goals he’s been on ice for, but, from manually tracked data, has been a dominant possession player: 57.94% Corsi, 62.5% controlled zone exits and 76.47% controlled zone entries. [RK]
Tanner Jeannot: I touch on the fourth line as a unit more below, but Jeannot has impressed me since his return from Florida and this week was no different. In three games, Jeannot posted one goal and three points and six shots on net.
He now has 10 points in 20 games with Milwaukee and, shockingly, has the third-highest primary points per 60 minutes rate on the team - 2.13. [ED]
In last week’s post, I mentioned how I thought Steven Santini was holding Jeremy Davies back; a pairing of Davies and Allard would likely be Milwaukee’s best but could sacrifice defense elsewhere.
A reader asked whether it was the eye test or stats I was tracking that made me think so. I did my best to answer in the comments section but wanted to expand more here with some game footage.
The clip above is indicative of a frequent Santini misstep. This is an eye test observation, but he often struggles moving north with the puck out of the defensive zone and ends up cornering himself in deep. In this case, it leads to a high-danger chance against.
This observation is aided by the tracking data (sample size disclaimer): Santini allows the opposition to maintain puck possession when entering the zone 40% of the time against him; Davies allows this just 31.25% of the time (the best mark on the team).
Above is another eye test observation. On the first attempted breakout, Davies works himself back with the puck before carelessly launching it right into a neutral zone turnover. As the IceHogs re-enter the zone, Davies later evades more intense pressure and waits out his teammate, gaining open space for a perfect controlled zone exit.
This observation is also backed up by the tracking data: Jeremy Davies has exited the zone with possession 71.43% of the time this season (best); Santini has done so just 46.67% of the time (worst).
Santini is, to my bewilderment, constantly going out of his way to lose positioning. In the clip above, he completely ignores the puck-supporting forward to lay an unnecessary hit. Josh Wilkins makes ~an effort~ to cover the back door but had Santini headed to the netfront initially this goal would have been less probable.
Over time, it’s very possible Davies's strong possession game outweighs Santini’s mistakes, but so far that is not the case. Despite the large difference in their exit and entry data, Santini and Davies have similar Corsi rates: 48.91% and 47.83%, respectively.
So, that, essentially, is why I believe they are an ill-fitting defense pair.
Musings and Observations, courtesy of Eric:
- Miikka Salomäki has been quiet lately, going scoreless in his last five games; he has just four points in 12 games for Milwaukee this season despite a recent promotion to the top line.
- I have to give credit to Milwaukee’s fourth line - they’ve been outstanding offensively this season. Tanner Jeannot and Mathieu Olivier have seriously taken advantage of their opportunities, scoring 2.13 and 1.85 primary points per 60 minutes, respectively. Additionally, they’re contributing heavily to the even-strength goals they’re on ice for; Jeannot’s iPP is 77.78% this season and Olivier’s is 63.64%, to date.
- Cole Schneider and Colin Blackwell have been so good on and off the puck this season. Two of the best veterans in the league each have 23 points in 26 and 25 games, respectively, this season./
All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com and eliteprospects.com. Charts are courtesy of Bryan Bastin (@projpatsummitt).