Milwaukee Musings: Not Exactly What We’re Looking For...
Six straight losses is not quite the best way to improve your playoff chances.
After back-to-back overtime losses last week, Milwaukee looked ahead to the final four games of their homestand to pick up points and collected exactly one of a possible eight. Six straight losses is bad; six straight losses at home is worse.
Rachel, our resident pessimist (just kidding) doesn’t suggest having much hope for Milwaukee in their next seven games—all of which are on the road and mostly in-division.
Headlines & Standings
- Last Friday, Nashville traded Emil Pettersson to the Arizona Coyotes for forwards Adam Helewka and Laurent Dauphin. Additionally, Milwaukee traded Jeremy Gregoire to the Tuscon Roadrunners for future considerations. Read my breakdown on the trade here.
- Frederic Allard remains out with injury, but, otherwise, the Admirals roster is fairly healthy.
- Rocco Grimaldi, it seems officially, will not be returning to Milwaukee this season. I don’t anticipate much up-and-down movement before roster limits expand after the trade deadline, so this could be the complete Admirals roster tasked with collecting critical wins in these last few months./
Weekly Game Recap
February 6: Milwaukee Admirals v. Texas Stars
Pretty boring one here. Joel L’Esperance continued his impressive season with a goal during a dominant first for Texas. Milwaukee fought back and played a nice third period, but the scoring woes continued.
February 8: Milwaukee Admirals v. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Milwaukee came out as an absolute flat line with only one shot on net ten minutes into the game. They gave up two power play goals in the first alone, and Anthony Richard’s snipe in the second and Duncan Siemens’s first as an Admiral was just too little.
February 9: Milwaukee Admirals v. Chicago Wolves
This was an entertaining match-up and has often been this season. Milwaukee surrendered the first goal again, but Cole Schneider answered with a bizarre tip of Adam Helewka’s shot. Tyler Gaudet tied things with just under 20 seconds to play, sending things to overtime.
Chicago finished things off a minute and a half into overtime while Alexandre Carrier was literally just lying on the ice in the slot swinging his stick (only mostly his fault on the positioning).
February 11: Milwaukee Admirals v. San Antonio Rampage
Another generally uneventful night of hockey saw the Admirals drop their sixth game in a row despite Adam Helewka scoring his first for Milwaukee and Troy Grosenick posting another stellar performance.
Anthony Richard: Emil Pettersson was the Admirals’ leading scorer on offense, but he’s in Tuscon now. So, it’s the Anthony Richard show. He’s been quietly good all season, scoring at a remarkable clip in all situations—including one of five shorthanded goals the team has scored this year.
Richard has thrown 11 shots on net during this bleak stretch and was pretty much the team’s only source of continued offensive pressure against Texas and Wilkes-Barre.
Rachel pointed out his goal against Wilkes-Barre was a perfect display of the tools in his wheelhouse:
Nicholas Baptiste: I probably should have picked like 7/8 of the roster, but I’ll use Baptiste to represent them all. There has been lots of talk in Nashville about lack of scoring outside the top line, but it could be worse: not even that line is scoring in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee has scored nine goals in their last six games, and you can probably guess how much Baptiste has contributed to that total: zero points. Baptiste hasn’t scored since January 20, and is on pace for his worst AHL season of his career despite likely playing the most games he ever has in a season.
For what it’s worth, Baptiste was demoted to the fourth line as the Admirals wrapped up the week with a couple more losses.
I’m not going to spend too much time here, because I’ve probably beat this horse to death. This team has struggled with a lot of line juggling this season; it’s something that I think did them in often towards the end of the Dean Evason era. You keep waiting on things to just click and they really never have save for a few games here or there this season.
There have been some highlights lately, though. Defensively, Matt Donovan has looked decent lately, as Rachel took note of. This team is sorely missing Frederic Allard (obviously), and Alexandre Carrier convinces me a little more each game that his defensive abilities are waning. Despite Donovan not putting up points, he’s been a quiet positive factor.
I really like the trade for Adam Helewka and Laurent Dauphin. I think both are proven top-six AHL players, both are excellent skaters, and both have a unique offensive touch. Helewka has already added two points in a Milwaukee uniform and Dauphin I think can really be an excellent B to Colin Blackwell’s A down the middle.
I mentioned earlier the problems with scoring, and it stretches well beyond Baptiste. A handful of players should be considered “Trending Down”: Kirkland (January 9), Baptiste (January 20), Trenin (February 2), Tolvanen (February 2), Di Giuseppe (has yet to), Schneider (before the Chicago game, January 22). It’s a problem you really shouldn’t expect to be one with the amount of AHL experience and scoring pedigree on this roster, but here we are.
There was a new focus placed on this club after Dean Evason departed, and I think Scott Nichol has placed a better emphasis on winning inspiring development. It’s something Milwaukee didn’t really seem to care about or need to for a few years in there, as they were producing the likes of Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and Pontus Åberg (don’t @ me, he was an elite AHL player). Roster construction and tinkering this season has show lots of promise, but something just isn’t there right now. Maybe it gets figured out between now and the playoffs, but you have to imagine how frustrated Scott Nichol and Karl Taylor must be at blowing six home games in a row.
All statistics are courtesy of theAHL.com and eliteprospects.com.