Admirals Stat-urday: Somebody Please Shoot the Damn Puck!

Newly Named Captain Garnet Exelby 2013-2014 Norfolk Admirals - John Wright / Courtesy Norfolk Admirals

First in the league in goals against and the penalty kill, but last almost everywhere else. How long before the offensive woes catch up?

1 According to several players and Coach Yawney, Friday night's game against Syracuse was the first time anyone could remember a player being given the Captain's "C" and getting a game misconduct in the same game.

2 Norfolk is ranked #1 in goals against per game average, giving up a stingy 2.08 goals per game, and have limited teams to two goals or less in 8 out of 13 games played.

3 Norfolk ranks last in the AHL in shots per game.  In 13 games, the Admirals have just 333 shots, averaging 25.62 per game.  They rank third worst in shots given up, allowing 452 in 13 games (34.77 avg).  Norfolk has been out-shot in all 13 games this season.

4 Rookie Steven Whitney scored his fourth goal of the season against the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning).

5 In five home games so far this season Norfolk has gone 2-2-0-1 with one shut-out.

6 The Admirals lead the AHL in shoot-out games played with six, winning three.

7 Norfolk is currently averaging only 2.54 goals per game, ranked 7th worst in AHL.

8 Zack Stortini leads the AHL with eight majors and 66 penalty minutes.

9
The Admirals collected nine of a possible twelve points on their recent six game road trip (3-1-0-1).  Norfolk still has yet to lose in an OT period despite playing in six so far this season.

10 Alex Grant leads all AHL defensemen with 41 shots.  His shots account for over ten percent (12%) of Norfolk's total shots on goal.  Grant currently leads the Admirals in goals with five.

I would love to point out some individual statistics, but outside of goaltending there just isn't much to talk about, and I can't frame every weekend write-up around John Gibson.

The Admirals have had to fight for virtually every point they've gotten this season.  They are giving up about the same number of goals per game as they are scoring, which has and will continue to result in many games going in to extra time.  As I mentioned above, Norfolk has been out-shot in all 13 games they've played, with opposing teams averaging ten more shots on goal.  With the exception of a select few teams, less shots means less goals (please forgive my mastery of the obvious).

Fewer shots also indicates a reduced time of puck possession, which is the kind of game Norfolk plays.  In Friday's game against Syracuse, the Admirals' played in their first "North-South" game, a game of sprints up and down the ice, a game Norfolk had not seen much of before and is not really built to counter.  Said Chris Wagner after the game "We don't want to get in to that kind of game against Syracuse or really any other team in this league.  Our game is getting pucks low behind the defense and cycling the puck.  If we get in to races with other teams, we aren't going to like the result."  Another indication of that down-low, puck possession game would be the drawing of penalties and power plays, and while only five other teams have seen more power play chances, the Admirals are in the lower half of the AHL in power play scoring.

The two biggest problems the Admirals face is getting the puck in deep and sustaining the forecheck, and getting shots on goal once there.  Norfolk's leading shot producer, Alex Grant, has thrown the puck at the net 41 times and gotten five goals.  That stat is a bit misleading however, as three of the five came in one period of one game.  The next leading shot producer, Max Friberg, has put the puck on net 29 times, but has been rewarded only once.  The top five active shooting players have forty percent of the total shots but only eight goals among them, again with five belonging to Grant.

The coaches have been preaching to shoot the puck, followed up by demands to shoot the puck, then requests to shoot the puck, then hoping to shoot the puck, and probably some praying to shoot the puck.  And until the Admirals take to heart the Wayne Gretzky message "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" they will continue to find themselves fighting for points rather than winning them.

Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead

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