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Admirals Stat-urday: Who's Going In Tonight?

The Admirals' Equipment Managers have been busy this past week trying to keep up with the roster changes forced by injuries and returns by players in Anaheim.

Max Friberg 2013-2014 Norfolk Admirals
Max Friberg 2013-2014 Norfolk Admirals
John Wright / Courtesy Norfolk Admirals

1 Kevin Gagne ranks first among rookies with 8 Power Play Assists.

2 Norfolk managed to put up only 2 shots on goal in the third period last Saturday, surrendering a three goal first period lead to the Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes) and eventually losing in the shoot-out.

3 Max Friberg ranks third among rookies with two Short-handed goals including one against the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes) Wednesday night, his third goal of the season.

4 Alex Grant is third among defensemen with four Power Play Goals.  Grant was the Admirals' leading scorer before being recalled after Wednesday's game against Charlotte.

5 Rickard Rakell is ranked fifth in the AHL with three shoot out goals.

6 The Admirals currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference after 21 games.  Their record is 10-7-0-4, good for 24 points.

7 Norfolk has gone to more shootouts (seven) than any other team in the AHL, winning three and losing four.

8 Norfolk sits Eighth in the AHL in Short-Handed Goals For with four in 21 games.

9 When scoring the first goal of the game, Norfolk has won seven of nine games and has not lost in regulation.

10 The Admirals seem to like playing on the road a little better than at home.  In ten games played at Scope, their record is 4-4-0-2 = 10 points, while on the road playing eleven games going 6-3-0-2 = 14 points.

--Head Coach Trent Yawney believes that every game is a "race to three," meaning the first team to score three goals should win.  It would help if the Admirals could manage to average at least three goals per game, but after a quarter of the season gone they are still managing only 2.62 goals.  The team is doing its part to keep opponents from winning the race however, limiting opponents to just 2.52 goals per game.  It's no wonder Norfolk has the most shoot-outs of any team when the odds really are 50/50 every night to win.

Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly have been in town for two games, and already both have contributed significantly to the score sheet.  In a 5-2 win Wednesday night against Charlotte, both Etem and Smith-Pelly had three points (1G + 2A).  Etem, who has been with Anaheim since the start of the season, has four points in just two games played in Norfolk (1G + 3A), while Smith-Pelly, called up to fill in for injuries, has back-to-back multi-point games since returning Wednesday.

They've also helped feed and pad Rickard Rakell's stats over the past two games, chipping in for 3 of his own points (1G  + 2A).  They were broken up at even strength Friday night because, quite frankly, they were horrible in the defensive zone, but continued to fly on the power play and clearly have demonstrated immediate chemistry.  With leading scorer Alex Grant recalled, their arrival has been timely and they will surely be relied upon to help Norfolk navigate through an unstable roster while the Ducks figure out who's healthy and who's not.

In what appears to be a sign that the injury to Ducks' goalie Viktor Fasth is much more severe than has been talked about, the Admirals signed veteran netminder Brad Thiessen this week to a Standard Player's Contract to be the long-term replacement for Frederik Andersen.

Thiessen, who played four seasons with the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins), appeared in 149 AHL games and posting a record of 88-49-6 with a 2.44 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage and 17 shutouts.  Thiessen won the Aldege "Baz" Bastien Award as the AHL's outstanding goaltender in 2010-11 when he went 35-8-1 with a 1.94 GAA, a .922 save percentage and seven shutouts.

Last year Thiessen went 16-12-2 (2.68, .902) in 32 regular-season contests before leading the AHL with a 1.38 GAA and a .952 save percentage in 12 Calder Cup Playoff appearances (6-4).  That playoff performance helped the Penguins to a historic conference semifinal series victory over Providence after trailing the series three games to none. He has an 18-17 record in 37 career AHL playoff contests, with a 1.81 GAA and a .932 save percentage.

The signing is, pardon me for saying so, one hell of a deal for Norfolk, as they once again have arguably the best goaltending tandem in the AHL.  Thiessen is regarded by many as the best goalie Wilkes Barre has ever had, and he'll certainly push and provide relief for John Gibson who had no clear back-up before the signing .

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