Nearly halfway through the season, it's not looking very good for the Admirals.
Despite the affiliation change, hopes were high for this team coming off of an incredible 2011-2012 season. After playing 36 games so far this season, essentially the mid point, and only winning 14 the Norfolk Admirals are under-performing just a bit. The Ads lost their 19th game of the season on Tuesday night, officially passing the season total for losses from last season.
The team has only had a pair two-win "streaks" since opening the season 4-0. One of those streaks was on Dec 1-2 against Hershey and Bridgeport, while the other was a weekend sweep of the Albany Devils on Dec 21 and 22. The team hasn't won in the calendar year with their last win coming on Dec 29, that's 19 days and seven games ago for those of you keeping count.
There have been several problems over this stretch of time. One of the main problems is that they have only surpassed 30 shots on goal once in those seven games and were held to just 13 (!!!!) shots in their most recent loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Many Ads fans are pointing fingers at head coach Trent Yawney. They shout from the mountain tops that his dump and chase style of play and his lack of in game adjustments are ruining this team. Ok, I threw in the in game adjustments part. Anyway, there is some truth to this grievance from the fans.
The dump and chase strategy doesn't work when you have guys coasting into the offensive zone, and it definitely doesn't work if you can't get out of your defensive zone. Another Yawney complaint, though less damning, is that he is a defensive minded coach, yet our defense is around the middle of the pack. The other side of the ice hasn't been any kinder though.
The team started off hot with a lot of secondary scoring. That scoring has died a brutal and tragic death and is bound to get worse with call-ups to the NHL. The leading active player for the Admirals is Patrick Maroon. He is having a good season but still only has 22 points in 34 games and is ranked 88th in the league.
The next active Admiral is Chris Wagner who has just 12 points in 30 games and he is ranked 288th in the league. On the plus side, he has the best plus/minus (plus-8) and I think he will grow into a pretty decent two-way player. To cut this rant short I'll just list names and rank in the league for some of the leading active players assigned to Norfolk: Emerson Etem, 328th; Nate Guenin, 344th; Troy Bodie, 374th; Jon Mitchell, 421st; Ryan Lasch (has been in the ECHL a lot), 503rd.
But with all the Professional Tryout Contracts and signings going on, you can tell Anaheim is concerned about our struggles. Just kidding. They signed the top two leading scorers from the ECHL affiliate the Fort Wayne Komets to pro tryout contracts, let them play one game, and then canceled the tryouts. Brandon Marino is tied for second in the ECHL scoring, not counting a couple guys who are no longer in the league, with 44 points and Jean-Michel Rizk is having a decent season for the Komets (15-9-24 in 39 games).
Instead to "help" the team they signed career penalty minute collectors Jay Rosehill and Pierre-Luc (Jean-Jaques-Francois-Sebastian-Henri) Letourneau-Leblond to one year deals. The fact that Leblond's news release is basically a glorification to penalty minutes racked up should be a concern.
In the next couple of days we will figure out the fate of players like Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, and Frederik Andersen who are all currently in Anaheim. Andersen will probably be recalled after the weekend so that the Anaheim back-up goalie contenders, Viktor Fasth and Jeff Deslauriers, can get some playing time since they didn't play much during the lockout (Deslauriers didn't play at all). Vatanen and Lindholm had both previously been out with injuries, Vatanen had a lower body ailment and Lindholm was out with a concussion that he suffered during a pre-tournament game over in Russia for the World Junior Championship.
Here's hoping for a better second half.