1 Norfolk finished their first Overtime game of the season with a win versus the Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes). Friday also marked the first game of the season in which Norfolk out-shot its opponent.
2 Alex Grant is second among defensemen in shots with 52
3 Norfolk continues its dominance of opposing teams' power play units, currently ranking third in the AHL on the Penalty Kill. In 18 games played, the Admirals have been shorthanded 91 times, have given up ten power play goals against, and are killing off penalties at an 89.0% efficiency.
4 Garnett Exelby is fourth among defensemen in Major Penalties with four.
5 Rickard Rakell scored his fifth of the season against Portland in OT. Rakell is second among rookies in Power Play Goals with four.
6 Norfolk also continues this year's parade to the penalty box, ranking sixth in Penalties. In 18 games played, the Admirals have racked up 412 penalty minutes and averaging 22.89 a game. They are ranked eighth in minors with 101 mins. On the flip side, their opponents have amassed 374 minutes when facing Norfolk, good for second in AHL.
7 Rookies Rakell (5+2=7), Max Friberg (2+5=7), and Kevin Gagne (1+6=7) each have seven points and are ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in scoring for the Admirals.
8 Maxime Sauve notched his eighth point of the season last Saturday with an assist vs the Manchester Monarchs (LA Kings). He currently sits third in points on the team (4+4=8) and is second on the team in plus/minus with a plus-four.
9 Norfolk sits ninth in the AHL through 18 games going 9-6-0-3, good for 21 points.
10 Steven Whitney leads all rookies in minor penalties with ten.
--I'm still recovering from jet lag so my mind is a bit foggy, but I wanted to hit on something that should interest all the Ducks fans out there who are more interested in the individual prospects than the Admirals team as a whole. This week it's mostly about the "youth." Fourteen players on the Admirals current roster were born in or after 1990.
Norfolk averages eight rookies in their line-up each game and for the most part the youth has come through big. Five of the top ten point scorers for Norfolk are rookies, and goaltender John Gibson, a rookie himself, is currently leading the AHL in save percentage (.939) and has a sub-two goals against average. The AHL is supposed to be a development league, and certainly the way the currently Admirals' roster is set up the youth on the team are getting quite a bit of development. Guys like Charlie Sarault and Steven Whitney out on the first power play unit, Rickard Rackell's great play already rewarded with a short call-up to parent club Anaheim, and the confidence the organization has with giving the net to Gibson with no real "back-up" option.
There is no better development situation than being thrown in to the fire, and the Admirals are doing just that, be it due to confidence in their youth or lack of options. Either way, nothing is coming easy to the Admirals this season, and they will continue to have to fight not only through other teams, but through their own inexperience as well.
Norfolk doesn't score a lot of goals, they also don't put the puck on net all that much either, so they are going to find themselves in those close one and two goal games for almost the entire season. I often joke about how early in the regular season coaches or players are going to start talking about having to play "play-off" hockey. I've heard it as early as January in seasons past, but I'd have to say this season is easily the earliest I've seen a Norfolk team actually seeing "play-off" hockey in October and November.
In fact, they'll continue to see it for the rest of the season, as play-off hockey games typically are low-scoring, low-shooting, defense first games. That pretty much sums up this Admirals team, and at this rate, should Norfolk make the post season, Coach Yawney probably won't have to make too many changes to the style of play. It remains to be seen just how long the youth-the skaters and more importantly the goaltending-can stand-up to these close games. They are learning, and the lessons won't get any easier.
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