1 Andre Petersson scored his 18th goal of the season, his first as an Admiral last Saturday against the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals). In three games with Norfolk Petersson has one goal and one assist.
2 The Admirals are ranked second among AHL teams in Goals Against per Game, allowing only 2.48 goals against in 60 games.
3 Norfolk fell from third to seventh in one night after losing to divisional rival the Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators) Friday night 3-1. With just 16 games left, the difference between third and ninth in the Eastern Conference is ten points, with only six points separating first through fourth in the East Division. Norfolk's magic number is 29.
4 John Gibson is ranked fourth overall among all active AHL goaltenders and first among active rookies. He picked up his 18th win of the season last Saturday against Hershey and is now 18-13-0-4 with a 2.28 Goals Against Average and .922 Save Percentage. He leads the league in shut-outs with five.
5 Devnate Smith-Pelly scored the Admirals' only goal Friday night against Binghamton, his 22nd of the season and second in his last five games
6 The Admirals winning percentage is .600 through 60 games, going 32-20-1-7 for 72 points. Norfolk has been nice enough to hand their opponents at least a point 18 times this season, going 2-1 in overtime and 8-7 in the shoot-out.
7 Norfolk has only lost seven times this season in games where they've scored the first goal. In 60 games, the Admirals have scored first 28 times and won 21, picking up points in three of those seven losses.
8 Defenseman Jesse Blacker picked up his first point in March with an assist on Smith-Pelly's lone goal last night against Binghamton. It was his first since getting an assist back on Jan 31, a span of eight games with no points after a season high point streak of five games.
9 Veteran goaltender Brad Thiessen appeared in his ninth game Friday night against Binghamton stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 3-1 loss. It was his first game since Feb 23, having been the odd man out between Gibson and Viktor Fasth. Thiessen is now 3-3-2 with a 2.06 Goals Against Average and a .940 Save Percentage.
10 Chris Wagner scored his tenth goal of the season last Saturday against the Hershey Bears, his third Game-Winning Goal of the season and fifth consecutive weekend with a goal scored.
--As I noted above, with just one loss the Admirals slipped from Third in the Eastern Conference to Seventh. The race is that close with little margin for error. A string of losses for the Admirals, heck, even a string of wins for the three other teams in their division, and the Admirals could find themselves with a lot more free time after April 19th.
--It really is too bad that Brad Thiessen doesn't get more playing time. As a professional, if you ask him what's the most important thing about his time in Norfolk, he'll tell you that he wants to do whatever he can for the team and be ready when he's called upon. It doesn't help that rookie John Gibson has played well this season and is the "heir apparent" for the Ducks' net or that Viktor Fasth required rehab like his last name was Lohan. In his nine games this season, only once has his save percentage dipped below .930, a 4-3 loss against the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes). Nine games unfortunately won't get him recognized as a "top" goaltender in the league, but his .940 save percentage is better than every other goaltender in the AHL. Sure, it's a small sample size, but he is still regarded in Wilkes Barre-Scranton (Pittsburgh Penguins) as their best goaltender in history, having lead them three consecutive seasons in to the Calder Cup playoffs. He's got the experience and skill to be a starter on other teams, and the Admirals are certainly lucky he was ready to come back from Europe when he did. In fact, with the NHL playoffs looming in the distance and Murphy's Law being what it is, if Gibson were to get called up in the event of injury Norfolk would be no worse off between the pipes, and that's incredibly reassuring.
--Speaking of the NHL playoffs and injuries, will the Ducks really need any help from Norfolk? I look over their roster, especially on the blue-line which is where most teams want to beef up, and I can't really find anyone that Anaheim would actually want to call up. Don't get me wrong, I think the defensive corps in Norfolk are pretty good...for Norfolk. Other than Sami Vatanen who's still living on the roster despite being injured and in Anaheim, I can't see the Ducks' plucking anyone from the Admirals' blue line. Sure, Nolan Yonkman got a "sniff" of the NHL this season with two games, but I'd say that was more of an extreme emergency than utilizing his skill set. What Admirals' fans are truly worried about is the "stealing" of Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pellly, and Rickard Rakell, the "NHL Line" when they are played together. These three players have 50 goals, 63 assists, and 113 points combined. They are deadly when they play together, fun to watch, and are usually Norfolk's best chance for offense. Andre Petersson may also be on the radar for recall, and though he only has two points as an Admiral he's still the club's leading scorer and has already injected some much needed speed and skill in to the Norfolk roster. The line-up the Admirals' have put on the ice over the past several months has been fairly consistent and in my opinion can only make the post-season and have a run in the play-offs if it is allowed to stay together. So, please don't be alarmed if you happen to Norfolk fans with voodoo dolls, chicken bones, holy water, rabbits' feet, and any other manner of good luck charms to ward off the injury bug from Anaheim and keep the Norfolk roster in tact.
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