Thearon W. Henderson
Same loss, different day, same message in the locker room. Is it going in one ear and out the other already?
1 - Norfolk is 1-5 when trailing after one period, 1-9 when trailing after two periods.
2 - In the last four games, the Admirals have only managed to score two goals or less in each game, averaging 1.75 goals per game.
3 - Norfolk has lost its last three games at home and is currently on a four game win-less streak.
4 - Only four players on the Admirals roster have reached double-digit points after 16 games: Peter Holland (9G, 7A, 16PTS), Kyle Palmieri (6G, 8A, 14PTS), Sami Vatanen (3G, 9A, 12PTS) and Patrick Maroon (6G, 4A, 10PTS).
5 - In the current four game losing streak, only five Admirals players have managed to score goals: Patrick Maroon (1), Nate Guenin (1), Chris Wagner (1), Sami Vatanen (1), Peter Holland (3).
6 - Norfolk is ranked sixth in the league in shots-for per game, averaging 32.38. Conversely, they rank 29th in shots-against, averaging 33.88.
7 - The Admirals have seven wins and nine losses. Norfolk dipped below .500 for the first time since January 30, 2010, and had never been below .500 under [former Admirals, current Syracuse Crunch] coach Jon Cooper.
8 - Only eight players have a positive plus/minus of plus-1 or more. The captain, defenseman Nate Guenin, leads the team with plus-8, while defensman Mat Clark and forward Devante Smith-Pelly are tied at minus-9.
9 - Peter Holland scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season on Friday night vs. Adirondack (Philadelphia Flyers).
10 - Number of players to have played in all 16 games this season. Three players have missed just one game: Vatanen, Wagner and Elkins.
-- What can be said that hasn't been said already? As per Coach Yawney after Wednesday's loss against the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes), "It's different players making the same mistakes."
Last Saturday, I used the analogy 'loss, rinse, repeat' to describe the Admirals current situation. In the week following, three more games, three more losses and the cycle continues.
-- Despite dropping 8 of the last 10 games, there actually have been some signs of improvement. Sparse signs, but signs nonetheless.
Igor Bobkov has turned in two respectable performances in his last two starts, despite allowing 10 goals. He seems to have worked himself out of whatever was affecting his game, be it the transition to the AHL or just a mental block. Recently, when called upon, he has kept the Admrials in the game, including standing on his head during a two-minute 5-on-3 penalty kill last Saturday vs. first place, Springfield (Columbus). While Frederik Andersen has the better stats, both goalies are victims of the players in front of them. Bobkov has played in more games with less effort by his teammates.
The Admirals have not generated a consistent forecheck and still haven't figured out how to clear the puck out of their own zone. Many goals are scored off turnovers from the offensive zone or cough-ups right in front of their own net.
The "two teams" wearing Admirals jerseys haven't decided which one will play from night-to-night. Mistakes are a part of the game and are bound to be made at this level. Effort, however, is not something that can be taught. There are clearly a couple players who leave it all on the ice every game, but there are many more who are clearly not putting in a full day's work.
Peter Holland can't be the only name showing up consistently in the goal column; there is clearly much more to give. Emerson Etem, Smith-Pelly, Palmieri, Elkins and Maroon should be pulling the team along and providing enough offense to fit the Anaheim system. [Ed. Note: Ducks system = lots of offense.]
Instead, pucks are half-heartedly chased in to the offensive zone or one player - with no support tries - to stickhandle through four opposing players. The power play hasn't generated much offense either. Up to Friday night against Adirondack, the Admirals had been spotting opposing teams the first goal of the game, often going in to the intermission down a goal or more.
Mistakes are ok; playing without desperation is not. Last season, the Crunch were around 11 points out of a playoff spot late in to the season. Somehow, they found a way to make up ground and get to the post-season. This year's roster has many of the same names, many of the same leaders.
The locker room speeches have been the same after every loss. Let's just hope the players aren't tuning out the message and remember what it took for them to come together last year.
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