[Ed. Note: Stats current as of Saturday morning. My fault, sorry guys. -CK]
1 Luca Sbisa, playing in the first of an expected two game assignment and his third as as Admiral, contributed nothing to the shoot-out loss Friday night to the Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks). He was slow, apprehensive, and looked afraid to play the body. Here's hoping he feels better going in to Saturday night's game.
2 David Steckel and Alex Grant picked up two points each in Friday's game against the Sharks. It was Steckel's fourth goal and tenth assist, and Grant's 11th and 12th assists.
3 Special teams have been a focus lately, and the results are showing. Norfolk has third best Penalty Kill in the AHL, killing off penalties at 88% efficiency. In the past three games, Norfolk allowed just two goals on 13 attempts (85%). The Power Play, despite being ranked towards the bottom of the league (16.2%), has found the back of the net in three straight games, going 3 for 15 (20%).
4 Jesse Blacker picked up his fourth goal with Norfolk for the game winner last Sunday vs the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets). In 20 games with Norfolk this season, he has four goals, 13 assists, and 17 points. He's also fifth among defensemen in shooting percentage (14.3), with five goals on 35 shots (one goal with Toronto)
5 The Admirals loss in the shootout last night was their fifth of the season. Norfolk has played 14 games requiring extra time, going 1-1 in OT and 7-5 in the shoot-out. 22 of Norfolk's 46 points have come outside of regulation play.
6 The Admirals picked up four of a possible six points on road trip last weekend beating the Portland Pirates (Phoenix Coyotes) on Friday, Springfield on Sunday, and losing to Worcester on Saturday.
7 Devante-Smith Pelly's seventh assist of the season came on a late, game tying goal against Worcester Friday night. Smith-Pelly is currently on a six game point streak with five goals and three assists after being kept off the score-sheet in five straight games.
8 Frederik Andersen played in two games last weekend, taking a 5-1 loss to the Sharks and a 2-1 win over Springfield. In four games with the Admirals this season, Andersen is 3-1-0-1 with eight goals against, a 2.45 goals against average, and a .939 save percentage. Fans expect to see Andersen reassigned to Norfolk prior to the Olympic break to get a few more games and keep the rust off.
9 Rookie Steven Whitney scored his ninth goal of season against the Sharks Friday night. Whitney now has 18 points this season. (9G, 9A)
10 Rikard Rakell is ranked fifth among all rookies in points. In 32 games played, he has ten goals, 18 assists, and 28 points.
--So seriously Anaheim. You can have Luca Sbisa back. He's rehabilitated, or warmed up, or in game shape, or whatever you need to hear to take him back. In fact, the Admirals will trade you one veteran NHL defensemen for one (or even both) of your rookie defensemen. After watching last night's game, umm, yeah, um, he's ready to come back. Some fans even offered to drive him there to save the airfare.
--John Gibson, recently returned from a trip to Anaheim no doubt meant to tease fans there, has regained his form, absolutely stealing a point from the Sharks Friday night after most of the players in front of him looked like they thought is was an off-season summer pick-up game. It was an interesting dynamic to read almost identical fan reactions to the Ducks-Chicago Blackhawks game that were being expressed in Norfolk. Contrary to the coaches' wishes, the Admirals have seemed to adopt a strategy of "chasing the game," almost seeming to want to make it harder on themselves than need be.Miscommunication, sloppy execution, and a desire to make the perfect play instead of doing the dirty work is becoming dangerously close to becoming the norm vice the exception.
At this point in the season the players know the systems, they know their positions, they know what they are supposed to do. Whether liked or not, the system has shown it can work. It's up to the leaders on the team to get everyone on board. 14 of 39 games have gone to extra time and asking any one of the players or coaches, to a man they'll admit that in most of the games it wasn't because the other team was better, it was because they played worse.
Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead