Sami Vatanen Winds Up For a Blast - John Wright/Courtesy of Norfolk Admirals
The Admirals are making headway in the climb in to the playoffs, picking up three points this week and gaining two points on the eighth place Manchester Monarchs. With 22 games left, they'll need to find something other than embarrassing performances for motivation.
1 - Goalie Frederik Andersen ranks first among active AHL goalies in save percentage with .930 and fifth overall.
2 - Winger Devante Smith-Pelly picked up two points on Wed night (1G,1A) in an overtime loss against the Charlotte
Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes). DSP has 7G and 13A on the season and is third on the active roster in points with 20. He also "leads" the Admirals in worst plus/minus with minus-20.
3 - Rookie defenseman Sami Vatanen is ranked third among active defensemen in points (35), third among rookies in assists (30) and tenth among rookies in points (5G,30A).
4 - Four different Admirals had mult-point nights in a 5-1 drubbing of divisional rival Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) on Friday night at Scope: Hampus Lindholm (2A) Sami Vatanen (1G,2A) John Kurtz (2A) Patrick Maroon (1G 2A)
5 - Dan Sexton continues to appear on the score sheet, picking up his fifth goal of the season Friday against Hershey.
6 - Sami Vatanen holds the longest active assist streak with six, and both he and forward Dan Sexton are tied for the fifth longest in the AHL current points streak with points in six straight games.
7 - With two assists Friday night against Hershey, grinder John Kurtz improved his points total to seven on the season (3G, 4A)
8 - The Admirals rank eighth in the AHL in Goals Against with 158.
9 - Patrick Maroon is ranked ninth among active AHL players in Power Play Goals with eight.
10 - In their last ten games, the Admirals are 6-2-2-0, picking up 14 of a possible 20 points. They are currently 13 in
the Eastern Conference and are five points back of the eighth and final playoff spot.
--I've really been biting my tongue lately, but I finally have to let it out: What is keeping the Norfolk Admirals from playing consistent hockey every game? Between last weekend's 6-2 man-handling of Charlotte and the 5-1 taming of the Hershey Bears, the Admirals suffered a 3-2 loss to Hershey and an overtime 3-2 loss to the Checkers. The Admirals were able to rail off three straight wins against high powered Eastern Conference Teams: 3-2 win over the Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)-currently ranked third in the conference, 2-1 over the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins)-currently ranked seventh in the conference, and 6-2 over Charlotte-currently ranked fourth in the Western Conference.
It's not that these guys can't play, it just seems like some nights they WON'T play. Sure, there are hints of brilliance every night, like coming back from being down 2-1 Wednesday with a goal just twenty-two seconds in to the third period. Lighting the lamp five times one night and six a week later, and on other nights managing only one goal or even none. Over the past ten games the Admirals have seen shot totals as high as forty-two and as low as twelve, and seeing shots against held down to an outstanding nineteen and an embarrassing thirty-nine. One night they'll get shut-out 3-0, the next night they'll turn around and win 3-2 against the same team.
Interviews after losses are the same--didn't win the loose puck battles, didn't execute, didn't prepare mentally didn't play a full sixty-minute game. After wins, same thing--executed, won puck battles, played the system the entire game, everyone contributed. And on those back-to-back nights where the Admirals have lost the first but won the second, again, same quote, "We weren't happy with our game last night." Excuse my sarcasm, but DUH! Losing 3-0 and mustering only five shots on goal in the first period would not qualify as an acceptable effort in my book either.
So what is it about this team that they need a wake-up call to refocus them? Why do they need to be embarrassed in order to put in a full effort? One would think that their backs being against the wall, being so deep in to the season and the standings, should provide enough motivation. Hell, just collecting a paycheck to play a game with the idea to get noticed by the big club and get the big contract should be motivation. But for some reason, for some guys, on some nights, it just isn't.
Some have called for Yawney to be fired, which I think is a totally stupid idea. It's not the system that's broken, we've seen what it can do against teams, GOOD teams. At this point it's a mental issue, and one that can only be fixed by the players themselves. The system is set, the plays are set, it's not about X's and O's anymore.
The Defending Calder Cup Champion Norfolk Admirals are sitting in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, currently five points out of the final play-off spot. They have 19 games remaining to make up the ground. I'm fairly certain they can't afford the losing efforts that have provided motivation for them in the past. They'll need to look to themselves for that push, otherwise their reign as champs will end with the final horn on April 21.
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