The Admirals finally gave their goaltenders some support, winning two of their last three games in convincing fashion, but the only thing they seem to be able to do consistently is take penalties.
1 - The Admirals allowed only one goal in each of their last two wins against they Hershey Bears (WashingtonCapitals) and the Bridgeport sound Tigers (New York Islanders) respectively.
2 - Norfolk Goaltender Frederik Andersen has two wins in his last three starts posting a 1.33 GAA in the Admirals last three games.
3 - The Admirals are averaging three goals against per game. According to coach Trent Yawney, "In this league it's a race to three goals, and the first team to get there usually wins."
4 - Admirals forward Patrick Maroon has four assists in the past three games, while forward Peter Holland has four points (1G, 3A).
5 - Norfolk is currently on a five game home winless streak.
6 - Admirals netminders Frederik Andersen and Igor Bobkov have six losses each. Andersen has added six wins, while Bobkov only has three.
7 - Seven different Admirals netted goals in their two most recent wins (5-1 over Hershey and 4-1 over Bridgeport).
8 - The Admirals rank eighth in the AHL in average penalty minutes with 21.71 per game. For those doing the math at home, this equates to playing more than an entire period of a game short-handed.
9 - Norfolk forward Peter Holland is ninth overall in points with 21 (10G, 11A).
10 - Admirals forward Brandon McMillan scored his second goal of the season only ten seconds into the first period against Hershey Thursday in DC.
The streak has ended, but has the slide stopped?
The Admirals won two recent road games with a vengeance, scoring nine goals and only allowing two.
It's unclear what the catalyst was, but it would probably be a safe assumption that the players were finally tired of losing. However, I'm not breaking out the party favors just yet--the Admirals won their first four games rather decisively and then seemed to disappear.
What will convince me of a shift will be consistency. The only consistent thing now is the trips to the penalty box as was evident in Thursday's game against Hershey in the Verizon Center.
The Admirals had ten penalties/23 mins short-handed. In fact, Norfolk averaged 24 minutes shorthanded in the past three games combined. While it's great to see the penalty kill improve every game, giving a highly skilled opponent that much time to play with the man-advantage will spell disaster in the long run.
Norfolk was able to light up Hershey goalie Braden Holtby for five goals on Dec 1 but could only manage to sneak one past him on Dec 4. Granted, no two games are the same, but being held to just one by a bottom-half team like Hershey after scoring a combined nine goals in two games isn't a sign of consistent play.
The past week is just a snapshot however, the season still has over 50 games to go, and neither teams nor fans should get hung up on just a few games. There will be ups and downs in every game as well as over the entire season, and that's what makes hockey such an exciting and emotional game to watch.
Riding the hot hand...
Frederik Andersen started three consecutive games for the Admirals, winning two and stopping 89 of 93 shots. He's now showing up on the AHL's stats leader board at number 15 with a 2.48 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
Thoughts are that Igor Bobkov should get the next start. While Bobkov has made huge strides it's becoming clear that Andersen's steady play will continue to earn him more starts.
It's an obvious point, but it should still be noted that when the Admirals play puck-possession hockey and go hard on the forecheck, they are rewarded with goals and relieve pressure off of their goaltenders. If they continue to play that way both netminders should benefit from being able to loosen up, rather than feeling like they can't make any mistakes that would cost the team a win.
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