Admirals Stat-urday: All Signs Pointing Up

Jessie Blacker 2013-2014 Norfolk Admirals - Scott Schild | sschild@syracuse.com

Six wins in their last ten games, points in seven, back-to-back shoot-out wins, victories at home and even some success on the power play. Last season at this time the Norfolk Admirals were on a down-hill slide. For now at least, they aren't even looking down.

1 Zack Stortini has led the league pretty much from Game one in penalty minutes. Surprised? No. Yeah, didn't think so. In 36 games he's accumulated 173 total minutes with 24 minor penalties and 21 major penalties.

2 Max Friberg scored two power play goals Friday night against the Portland Pirates (Buffalo Sabres), bringing his total on the season to six.

3 Defenseman Jesse Blacker notched three Assist versus Portland and scored in his second straight shoot-out in a week. He is first among defensemen in shoot-out goals with two and second in short-handed points with two.

4 Igor Bobkov picked up his fourth straight win over the Pirates Friday night, stopping 27 of 31 and three straight shooters in the shoot-out.

5
Maxime Sauve quietly added his fifth assist of the season and tenth point (5G, 5A) against Portland Friday night.

6 The Admirals picked up their sixth and seventh shoot-out wins over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders) last Saturday and the Portland Pirates last night, respectively. Norfolk has gone to extra periods 13 times this season, 11 of them requiring shoot-outs. 21 points, or half of the Admirals 43 points, have come from the OT or SO.

7
After going 0 for 7 last Saturday and promising to work on the power play during the week, the Admirals scored on three of four power plays versus Portland Friday.

8 Emerson Etem is on a five game goal scoring streak and an eight game point streak. Etem also has 14 points in his last nine straight home games.

9 Rickard Rakell is on a nine game point scoring streak (12pts). Rakell leads all rookies in shoot-out goals with five, going 1 for 2 in back to back games versus Bridgeport and Portland.

10 Devante Smith-Pelly hit the ten goal mark vs Portland. He has 3G, 2A in three games in January.

--Igor Bobkov. Four wins in his last four starts. I don't know how long it will last, but it's clear he's confident and playing solid hockey. The Admirals are blessed with some pretty solid goaltending which is a must considering they aren't as deep offensively as other teams.

--A few months ago the Admirals were averaging just about two goals per game, so when opponents would get that third or fourth, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion Norfolk wouldn't be walking away with points. Fast forward to today and that Goals per game has slowly crept up to 2.94, and over the past ten games is at 3.2. Friday night against Portland, the Admirals gave up three unanswered goals before scoring three of their own. The Pirates would pot one more with under three minutes to go in the game, but Norfolk tied it with their fourth a minute later and forced the over time. There is clearly a core belief being carried in the locker room and on the bench right now, and it's good to see the team fighting hard and not giving up. Credit definitely goes to the vets but I think it's also due to Trent Yawney for keeping the large number of rookies on his team focused on the system and playing the right way.

--Under normal circumstances having the number one goalie recalled to the parent NHL club might spell disaster for a team that relies heavily every night for its netminder to keep it in games, but for the Admirals a swap of John Gibson for Frederik Andersen is not a normal circumstance. Andersen was the hero of the 12-13 season and his play earned him a contract with the Anaheim Ducks and the starting job in Norfolk for this season. He started off well, and then was plucked by the Ducks to fill in due to injuries. In 12 games played with Anaheim, Andersen has ten wins and two losses with a 2.07 GAA and a .923 Save Percentage. Andersen has been riding the bench quite a bit lately and in his last appearance let in four goals, making it look like the idle time is rusting his skills.

The plan from the team is to get him playing time in Norfolk this weekend and as Coach Boudreau says "We'll see where we go from there." Gibson on the other hand has been given some relief with the play of Bobkov, but it still will do him some good to spend some time with the Ducks players and coaches, get in to some practices, and maybe even see a game or two. After all, Gibson is the "heir apparent" between the pipes and I'm sure management wants to see what they have before making what I believe is a "done deal" goalie trade at the deadline. Having Freddie in Norfolk, whether it be for a week or a month, will be a seamless change for the team and for fans. I for one think it will be nice to have him with Norfolk again after Anaheim wouldn't share for so long..... ; )

Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead

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