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Admirals Stat-urday: Good Goaltending is the Best Medicine

Despite being near the bottom of the AHL is goals per game, Norfolk's strength between the pipes has kept the Admirals near the top of the League through the first ten games of the season.

Rickard Rakell 2013-2014 Norfolk Admirals
Rickard Rakell 2013-2014 Norfolk Admirals
John Wright / Courtesy Norfolk Admirals

1 The Admirals, thanks to stellar goaltending, are ranked first in the AHL in Goals Against per Game with 1.80, allowing 18 goals in 10 games.

2 Norfolk netminder John Gibson earned his second shutout of the season Friday night, leading the Admirals to a 3-0 win against the Albany Devils (New Jersey Devils). Gibson and Frederik Andersen's combined three shut-outs lead the AHL in that category.

3 The Admirals added three more even strength goals in their win over Albany, bringing their season total to ten in ten games.

4 Norfolk is ranked Last in the AHL in Shots per game (250, 25/gm. average) and fourth worst in Shots against (338, 33.8 avg)

5 This week saw five significant roster moves for the Admirals:  Center Peter Holland and rookie center Rickard Rakell were recalled by parent club Anaheim Ducks (Rakell was later returned), Defenseman Luca Sbisa was assigned on a Long Term Injury conditioning loan, Norfolk signed center David Steckel to an AHL contract, and goalie Igor Bobkov was recalled from the ECHL Utah Grizzlies.

6 Rookie Rickard Rakell leads Norfolk in points with six (4G+2A) in ten games played.

7 Goalie John Gibson has now played in seven games, going 4-1-0-2, allowing nine goals against on 227 shots.  His 1.24 Goals Against Average and .960 Save Percentage garnered him the CCM/AHL Goalie of the month for October.

8 Eight different Admirals had points (3G, 5A) in the win against Albany Friday night.

9 Norfolk is first in the AHL in penalty killing, shutting down opposing teams at the high rate of 91% and only allowing five Power Play Goals Against on 56 Times Short-Handed in ten Games.

10 The Admirals reached the ten game mark of their season.  They have gone 6-2-0-2, have 14 Pts, are Second in East Division, Fourth in the Eastern Conference, and Fifth in AHL.

The first thing I'd like to direct towards Anaheim management, coaches, and players is ENOUGH WITH THE INJURIES!  I'm not sure if anyone has bothered to look in to the Norfolk Cupboard lately, but if the rate of Ducks' injuries continues Bob Murray is going to reach to his shelves in south-eastern Virginia and is going to come back empty handed.  Sure, the roster is full, thanks to some recent call-ups from the ECHL and the signing of David Steckel to an AHL contract.  But after taking Holland, Devante Smith-Pelly, and bouncing Rakell back and forth, the available NHL-ready depth is pretty thin.  Hopefully the injury situation in Anaheim gets better soon, or the Ducks are going to find themselves up the pond without a flipper (pardon the stupid pun). [Ed. Note- Trust me we're wishing and praying for the same thing. - Kyle]

I've said it before and I'll say it again--whichever way the Admirals' goaltenders go, so does the team.  John Gibson has started six of the past seven games, grabbing points in five of the six despite the team in front of him only averaging 1.83 goals per game in those six games.  I'm not good at math, so I had to break out a calculator and ask a friend, but when your team can't even score two goals in a game, you'd better have damn good goaltending to win.  Igor Bobkov, recently recalled from Utah, stepped in to play the third game in a three day series last weekend against the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) who, until that game, had managed only one win in their season.  Norfolk was able to score their average two goals, but Hershey was able to knot four of their own, whereas Norfolk has only knocked in three or more goals twice this season, and thus the odds of overcoming that kind of lead are slim, at least to this point.

Anaheim has skill in the goaltending department to spare.  I've quoted Gibson's stats above so I won't bore you with them again here, but he is certainly the engine keeping the Admirals' ship moving forward.  When Viktor Fasth gets healthy enough to return, Andersen should be sent down to wait out the impending Jonas Hiller trade (maybe).  Having both Andersen and Gibson to carry the load should take the pressure off of the rookies to do too much and allow them to develop in to more complete players.  Hopefully they'll learn to put the puck in the net too.

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