1 Norfolk Defenseman Alex Grant is ranked first among all defensemen with 26 shots on goal.
2 The Admirals are ranked second in goals against per game. In seven games played, Norfolk has allowed only 13 goals against for a 1.86 GAA.
3 Norfolk more than doubled its total even strength goal production with their win over the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers) Friday night, potting three goals in a 3-0 shutout.
4 Admirals rookie netminder John Gibson is ranked fourth overall among active goalies. In five games played, Gibson has gone 2-1-0-2, allowing only eight goals against for a 1.53 GAA and won his first shutout last night against the Phantoms. He is also third amongst active goalies with a .952 save percentage.
5 Norfolk defenseman Kevin Gagne leads all rookies with five power play assists.
6 In six games played this season, recent Anaheim Ducks call-up Devante Smith-Pelly has two goals, both coming shorthanded.
7 The Admirals rank seventh overall on the penalty kill. In seven games played and 39 times short-handed, they have allowed just four power play goals against and are killing penalties at a rate of 89.7%.
8 Norfolk's power play has fallen out of the top ten however, and is now currently ranked 13th. They have scored just eight times on 41 chances.
9 Nine players on the Admirals' roster have 10 or more shots on goal this season. They are currently ranked 17th in the AHL in shots for.
10 Despite their low average shots on goal and their paltry even strength scoring, Norfolk has amassed ten points of a possible 14 in their seven games played with a 4-1-0-2 record.
Two big things to bring up this week from an "important" statistics perspective. First, John Gibson, who has been saddled with the full goaltending load with the call-up (and recent success of Frederik Andersen) has grabbed five points of a possible six over the past week. He played in two shoot-outs last weekend against the Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils), winning one and losing the other, and grabbed his first professional shut-out last night against the Phantoms.
The Admirals have relied heavily on their goaltending this season to grab points because, bluntly stated, their offense has been mostly absent. Gibson has played in five of the seven games to date and aside from some fundamentals issues (dropping too early, beaten on his glove side multiple times) has looked solid in goal. In fact, considering the team in front of Norfolk's net, the Admirals are, at least so far, looking to have the right combination of goalies on the roster.
Andersen just signed a new two-year agreement on Friday, so his full-time promotion to the parent club at some point this season is all but-assured, but until that happens fans should be comfortable with the Andersen-Gibson tandem. I don't know how many more games they can steal, but it's a certainty they'll be called to do it on a regular basis until the skaters in front of them can start putting the puck in the net. Which leads me to the next "big thing"....
Holy crap! Did someone sneak a message in to the locker room telling the players it's ok to score when it's five-on-five? Or more specifically, did someone remind Peter Holland that he is a goal-scorer and remove whatever mental block was keeping him from putting the puck in the net?
No matter what the "cure" was, the Admirals popped in three even-strength goals against Adirondack which, sadly, more than doubled their season total and brought them up to five. Holland netted two himself and forward Maxime Sauve, playing in only his second game, knocked in his first of the season and was a plus-3 on the night.
In keeping with my usual practice of putting things in perspective, Adirondack isn't exactly at the top of the league having won only one game out of seven this season and allowing a league high 27 goals against. But there is certainly something to be said for the Admirals players finding a way to score at even strength despite going 0-5 on the power play.
The Admirals have two games remaining in their "3-in-3" weekend, with division rivals Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins) on Saturday night and the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) on Sunday. The Penguins, a perennial play-off contender every year, have won six of seven have not lost in regulation to lead the East Division, the Eastern Conference, and sit second in the AHL. The Bears are somewhat the opposite, having won just their first game last Saturday but only playing four games so far. It will be interesting to see if Norfolk can steal a point from the Pens and get what should be a couple "easy" points from Hershey. The only thing certain at this point in the season is that the Admirals are quite literally living and dying by their goaltenders.
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