A shortage of goals, an abundance of penalties, a misfiring Power Play and cheering for Tampa Bay prospects. Is it still 2012?
1 - Norfolk has one goal in it's last two games, both losses. Norfolk has won one of its last three games.
2 - Only two Admirals, forward Emerson Etem and defenseman Nate Guenin, have points in the past week. Etem scored a short-handed goal in a loss to the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets) to break a Falcons' shut out with less than three minutes left in regulation.
4 - Forward Chris Wagner ranks fourth among rookies in Minor Penalties with 16.
5 - Former Crunch (and Anaheim Duck) forward Dan Sexton registered five shots on goal in his first game with the Admirals after being signed by Norfolk earlier this week.
6 - Norfolk ranks sixth in the AHL in Penalty Minutes, with 708 total in 31 games played, averaging 22.84 minutes per game. On the flip side, opponents have 681 penalty minutes against, clearly showing that the Admirals' special teams have gotten a considerable amount of ice time thus far this season.
7 - The Admirals have given up seven goals in their last two games (4-1 loss to Springfield, 3-0 loss against Syracuse) after allowing an average of 2.09 goals against in their previous 11 games.
8 - In Norfolk's last two losses, they have only managed to fire an average of eight shots on goal per period. This is below their season average of ten plus shots per period, and in the first and second periods of last night's game against Syracuse the Admirals were only able to muster six and five shots respectively.
9 - Admirals' forward Kyle Palmieri, who was held out of last night's game, leads the team in shots on goal with ninety-nine.
10 - Ten-minute misconducts seemed to be the theme of Friday's game against Syracuse. Seven misconduct penalties were handed out by referee Terry Koharski. Admirals' Mat Clark (Continuing an altercation), Troy Bodie (Continuing an altercation), Jay Rosehill (Misconduct) and Peter Holland (Abuse of officials) were all sent to the "sin-bin" for ten minute stints throughout the game.
Goal Well Dried Up?
After beating the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins) last Saturday it appeared the Admirals would continue rolling with their new-found momentum in to the new year. However, the only goal Norfolk has been able to net in the two games since was a too-little, too-late third period goal by Emerson Etem on Sunday versus Springfield.
The Admirals continue to, well, stink on the power play (as they have all season) and have found themselves struggling to put shots on goal later in games after starting off strong in the early minutes. Granted, Springfield and Syracuse aren't exactly "easy" teams to play against, as both lead their respective divisions and Syracuse leads the AHL, but Norfolk has proven it has the talent to play with the "big boys" despite their place in the standings.
Admirals Not Exactly "At Home" in Norfolk
Last night, the Syracuse Crunch players made their first appearance in Norfolk since being uprooted through an affiliation change in the off-season. Fans of last year's team have been chirping up social media in anticipation of their return, bragging about how loudly they would cheer for the visiting team.
The Crunch took the ice during the pre-game skate to what looked and sounded like a standing ovation, which, in this man's opinion, would have been enough to say "thanks" to the players. But no, Admirals "fans" took it to a new level by consistently cheering for the Crunch team during the game, as well as applauding when the Syracuse team raised the familiar stick salute while skating off the ice at the end of the game.
I found this to be insulting to the home team, but not as insulting as the fan reaction, which was to stand and cheer while the visiting team seemingly took possession of Scope [Ed. Note: Good preparation for playing in Anaheim]. There were still some Admirals players on the ice at the end of the game, and you could see the sting in their eyes.
In talking with a few players after the game, you could tell it had an affect in the way they answered questions. This "new" team have talked all year about how great the fans in Norfolk have been considering all that's happened, that they've welcomed the new players and made the place feel like home. Last night's game may as well have been in Syracuse, and if I were a player hitting the ice tonight I'm not sure I would be able to say that I was playing for the "fans."
Sure, the players are professionals, and they know they have a job to do, but with the lockout continuing they have to find reasons to dig deep and play hard, and connecting with the fans is, or at least was, one of them.
Last night's message was clear--"We love you guys, until last year's players show up!" The venue may have been different, the temperature a bit more moderate, but last night's game was clearly a home game for the visiting team, and I for one walked out with my head down, and not because of the loss.
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