Admirals Stat-urday: Is that net regulation size or what?

Norfolk Goalie John Gibson 10-19-2013 - John Wright / Courtesy Norfolk Admirals

Through five games and 14 goals, only two have come five-on-five. Special teams are crucial, but teams don't make the playoffs without even strength scoring. Where is it?

1 Norfolk Goalie John Gibson picked up his first win of the season against the Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils) Friday night, stopping 31 of 32 shots and four shooters in the shootout.
2 Devante Smith-Pelly missed two dentist appointments this week due to being recalled to the parent Anaheim Ducks.  Smith-Pelly took a stick in the mouth last weekend, breaking a tooth.  Quoting him "I've been pretty lucky, but my mother wasn't happy."
3 The Admirals rank third in the AHL in shootout attempts.  In three games, Norfolk shooters scored five times on 14 attempts, winning two of three games.
4 Norfolk rookie forward Rickard Rakell is fourth in the AHL in Goals among rookies, notching 3 in 5 games.
5 Between last Saturday against the Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators) and last night against Albany the Admirals have 5 periods of play with less than ten shots per period.
6 Only six Norfolk skaters have found the back of the net in the Admirals five games.  Defenseman Alex Grant and forward Rickard Rakell lead the team with three goals each.
7 Norfolk has scored seven power-play goals on thirty attempts, ranking them fourth among AHL teams in Power Plays. [Ed. Note:  We might have to call up whichever assistant coach is running that PP.   -CK]
8 Eight different Admirals have picked up assists in five games thus far.  Alex Grant, Charlie Sarault, and Kevin Gagne each have four assists.
9 In five games this season the goaltending tandem of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson have a combined save percentage of 94.2% with a 1.90 goals against average.
10 Defenseman Alex Grant is ranked tenth among AHL defenseman in scoring with four points in five games (3G, 1A).

And so the mediocre-ness continues (is that even a word?  Oh well).  Since I last wrote, Norfolk managed to put in two more goals in two games, one of them actually being recorded at even strength (I don't consider it one though, as Rakell was streaking wide before the PK was over and scored a few seconds after it ended).  So, with Rakell's goal last night, the Admirals are up to a whopping TWO even strength goals.  That's right, out of the 14 scored in five games, just TWO are at even strength.

To further put things in to perspective (and continue kicking the crap out of the horse), I'd like to break down Norfolk's goal scoring so far.  Five games, 14 goals.  Two at even strength.  Seven on the power play.  Three short-handed.  Two from shoot-out wins.  A little shaky 5-on-5, but still, 2.8 goals per game isn't bad, right?

Consider that five of the 14 came in one game last weekend against Binghamton, all in one period of the game.  When I point out that over 1/3 of the total goals scored were in one game, one period, and that four of the five were scored with the opponent down two players, does that clear anything up?

What about the fact that five of the seven total power play goals scored where in one game, meaning the remaining two can be split across four other games?  Are you still feeling confident in the special teams offense?  The only thing holding up Norfolk's special teams has been the Penalty Kill, which has killed off 26 of 29 penalties and contributed three shorties.

Between last Saturday's game and last night, Norfolk was outshot in 4 out of 6 periods and saw a total of 62 shots versus the 42 they managed to put up.  Five periods of play saw less than ten shots on goal each period.  If it wasn't for goaltending, the Admirals would be sunk this year, as both Andersen and Gibson have fought and almost single-handedly earned every point Norfolk has gotten all by themselves.

The current make-up of the Norfolk Admirals can be summed up like this--either very young, or very old.  Unlike last year's team, the current Admirals have nine rookies on the roster that are being relied upon to log solid minutes every game.  They lack experience.  They lack awareness.  They lack all the things that their veteran counterparts have except speed and skill.  But they are raw and unrefined, and it will certainly take time for them to develop.

For the veterans, many of whom have seen time in the NHL, they aren't quite as fast, they aren't quite as good with the puck, but they all have "been there" before.  Coach Yawney should be able to utilize them for their experience and leadership.  Amongst the two extremes are a couple "sprinkles" of third and fourth year guys like Smith-Pelly, Alex Grant, and Peter Holland, who will be relied upon to bridge the gap and lead from the front.  The Norfolk Admirals are definitely a blue-collar team this season.  The question is, when will they show up to work?

Follow me on Twitter: @VaPuckhead

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