The Norfolk Admirals have played with spirit and inspiration one night and look tired and beaten the next.
1. Norfolk lost its first game of the season after leading two periods to the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning) Friday night by allowing the Crunch to tie the game in third period and go on to win in the shoot-out.
2 . A few notable twos: Admirals Captain Nate Guenin leads the AHL in Shorthanded Assists with two. Kyle Palmieri scored two power-play goals against Syracuse on Friday night. Norfolk has earned only two points in its last five games.
3. Rookie defenseman Sami Vatanen racked up three assists in an overtime loss to Syracuse last Saturday night and earned the Third Star of the game.
4. Goalie Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on four shots in an shoot-out loss to Syracuse on Friday night, after stopping 37 of 39 shots on goal through regulation and overtime. He faced 23 shots in the third period alone, allowing only one goal.
5. Norfolk is currently on a five game losing streak, going 0-3-1-1.
6. The Admirals have scored only six goals in the past 3 games. Patrick Maroon (2G), Kyle Palmieri (3G), and John Kurtz (1G) have been the only goal scorers this week.
7. Kyle Palmieri and Pat Maroon lead the Admirals with seven Power Play Goals each.
8. Forward Chris Wagner has taken over the team lead in plus/minus with a plus-eight.
9. Norfolk made nine roster moves this past week, mostly in preparations for the potential player losses to Anaheim's NHL camp. On Friday Jan 11, the Admirals signed forward Eric Lampe to a Professional Tryout Contract (PTO), recalled defenseman Nick Schaus from Fort Wayne, and released goaltender Jeff Deslauriers from his PTO. On Saturday, Jan 12, 6 more players joined the club:
D Kyle Bushee – Signed to Professional Tryout Contract (PTO) from Elmira (ECHL)
D Ryan Hegarty – Recalled from loan to Fort Wayne (ECHL)
RW Matt Kennedy – Reassigned by Anaheim (NHL) from Fort Wayne (ECHL)
LW Garrett Klotz – Recalled from loan to Fort Wayne (ECHL)
F Andrew Rowe – Signed to Professional Tryout Contract (PTO) from Elmira (ECHL)
F Marc-Olivier Vallerand – Signed to Professional Tryout Contract (PTO) from Greenville (ECHL)
10. In 17 road games thus far, the Admirals have won only six, lost ten in regulation, and lost one additional in overtime.
AHL Schedules: Who writes these things anyhow?
Everyone know the AHL schedule is an arduous one, with most teams traveling by bus instead of on the chartered planes the NHL teams use, and often times, playing several games over a short period of time.
Norfolk is a special case as it's closest rivals are just over 300 miles away to the north and to the south. Last weekend saw the Admirals face off against the Syracuse Crunch on both Friday and Saturday nights. Within minutes after the last post-game interview, Norfolk players were on a bus traveling overnight to Raleigh to face Charlotte (Carolina Hurricanes) on Sunday.
Sunday's game would not be an evening game but instead a 1pm start. Three games in three nights, having to travel 300 miles on a bus hoping to get some sleep, and less than thirteen hours in between games two and three.
The Admirals faced a similar situation back in November, playing three games in three nights in three different cities and saw the same scenario again in December. This isn't new for Norfolk, every Admirals team has had to face these challenging road trips.
I know it's easy to point out that these are young men being paid to play a game, one has to wonder just how the players can stay rested and loose spending that much time on a bus. Whoever said professional athletes have it good hasn't been on one of these road trips.
Just how good are the Norfolk Admirals?
In their first meeting last Jan. 4, the Syracuse Crunch easily shut out the Admirals 3-0. The following night however, Norfolk showed an ability to not only hang with, but also come back against the league's best team holding the lead; the Ads scored the game tying goal in the third period and forced overtime. The next day against the Charlotte Checkers, the Admirals could only muster one goal in the first period. and from there, Charlotte walked all over Norfolk, beating them 3-1.
Friday night in Syracuse, the Admirals faced off against the Crunch again, and this time not only stayed with them, they actually scored the first two goals of the game. Norfolk never trailed and actually had the lead for almost 25 minutes across the second and third periods, only to fall back in to a "protect the lead" shell and produce only four shots in the third to Syracuse's 23.
Frederik Andersen, a wall in regulation and the more consistent of the Admirals' goal-tending duo over the season, looked like he couldn't have prevented a beach ball from going in the net during the shootout. Granted, Norfolk grabbed a much needed standings point, but the question still remains: how can this team put together a strong effort against the No. 1 team, only to turn around and look like they are using mite level players on other nights? [Ed. Note: Sound familiar Ducks fans? - JN]
Perhaps the end of the lockout will be a good thing for the Admirals. Perhaps the holes in the roster made by guys making the Ducks' roster will be filled with players who have a drive and determination to play hard in the hopes of sticking with the team. Perhaps the players "left behind" by Anaheim will be more motivated to play, hoping to get a ticket to the big show. Whatever the situation, fans have seen the Admirals able to play with the best in the league. Now it's just a matter of coaxing that effort out of the team every night, not just every once in a while.
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