Admirals Stat-urday, Playoff Edition: Round 1, Games 1 and 2

Norfolk Admirals' Mascot Salty Waves Admirals Flag at Scope - Courtesy John Wright/Norfolk Admirals

The regular season is over, the "second season" has begun, and everyone starts at zero.

1 Norfolk is tied for best in the AHL on the Penalty Kill.  Through two playoff games the Admirals have killed off all eight penalties for a 100% kill rate!

2 Defenseman Sami Vatanen, assigned just prior to the start of Game One, put up two assists against the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings) Saturday night.

3 William Karlsson (1G), Dave Steckel (1G, 1A), and Max Friberg (1G) scored three unanswered goals Saturday night to stake the Admirals to a 3-2 win Saturday to tie the series at one game a piece.

4 Norfolk is currently ranked third in Goals Against Per Game with two.  The Admirals have only allowed four goals against in two games despite giving up 60 total shots.

5 The Admirals have only drawn four penalites in their two games against the Monarchs but made good on their ONLY power play Saturday night after going 0-3 Friday night.  Norfolk is currently ranked Fifth in the AHL playoffs on the Power Play with a 25% success rate.

6 The Admirals could only manage six shots on goal during the first period of Saturday night's game, their worst single period shot total in six periods of play.

7 Through two games John Gibson is ranked seventh among playoff goaltenders.  He is 1-1 with a 2.02 Goals Against Average and a .933 Save Percentage.

8 All eight teams in the Eastern Conference have at least one win with all three East Division representatives--Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators), Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins), and Norfolk, each splitting their first two games.

9
Through two games the Admirals have put up three goals and six assists for nine points.

10 Norfolk's combined team plus/minus is at a minus ten as compared to plus-ten of the Monarchs.

--Game One was all defense and no offense for the Admirals.  Well, perhaps it's better to say all defense and no "real" offense.  One of Norfolk's biggest problems this season has been getting pucks to the net, resulting in single digit shots per period and routinely being outshot by their opponent.  Friday night against Manchester the Admirals finally got around to shooting the puck, but it was clear the Monarchs' defense was doing its job and keeping the shots well outside and in low percentage areas.  It was as if Norfolk was hoping to win the game by quantity of shots and not quality.  Manchester goalie Jean-Francois Berube played well, stopping all 30 Admirals' shots, fending off the few quality scoring chances and three power plays the Admirals were given.

To their credit however, the Admirals managed to play a sound defensive game almost all night, especially considering six players on the Admirals' roster had been with the team for only a few weeks.  Norfolk kept Manchester's power play off the board despite having the man-advantage four times.  John Gibson, returned earlier in the week from Anaheim, saw his first game as an Admiral since April 4th and gave the Admirals a chance to win the entire game, giving up one goal midway through the first and a second with under two minutes left.  Norfolk pulled their goalie but failed to convert, giving Berube his first shutout and giving the Monarchs the series lead 1-0 in the  best of five series.

--Game Two looked a lot like Game One on the scoreboard with the Admirals staking the Monarchs a two goal lead in the first period, allowing both goals with less than five minutes left and less than two minutes apart.  Manchester doubled up on shots over Norfolk 13-6 and it looked like the momentum from the previous night's win had carried over and put the Admirals on their heels.  The second period started, and so did the push from the Admirals.

Just over two minutes in to the second, veteran defenseman Nolan Yonkman decided enough was enough and dropped the gloves with Monarchs' winger Steve Quailer.  Yonkman continued to throw punches after Quailer went down, intent on sending a message that enough was enough.  When the Monarchs took a penalty five minutes later, Norfolk used the momentum that Yonkman started and pushed back on the scoreboard.  Max Friberg, picking up a juicy rebound in front, shot the puck home for his first in the playoffs.  The Admirals continued to roll with a new-found energy, and Dave Steckel would put in his first of the playoffs just four minutes later to tie the game.  Norfolk essentially took Manchester's first period and threw it right back at them, nearly mirroring their efforts with two goals and outshooting them 12-5.

The Admirals would find the game winner a minute past the half-way mark of the third when William Karlsson skated almost the entire length of the ice and beat Berube with a shot the goalie got most of, but not all.  Manchester poured it on in the third, outshooting the Admirals 16-9 but John Gibson held on for the win, his first playoff win in the AHL.

The series is tied 1-1 and continues in Norfolk for games 3-5.  For those wondering, the AHL CBA states that due to the mileage separation the series is a 2-3 vice a 2-2-1, and that the higher seed picks whether to play the first two or the last three at home.  Game 3 is Wednesday, Game 4 Friday, and Game 5 Saturday (if needed).

Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead

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