1 Norfolk ranks first in the AHL in penalty minutes. In the eight games played so far, the Admirals have 246 mins and are averaging 30.75 mins per game short-handed (over half of the game). The Admirals hold another "record" for most minors in a game with 12 against the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets) last weekend in a 6-3 loss. Norfolk racked up 94 penalty minutes in that game, and combined with the Falcons put up 154 total minutes, good enough for 3rd "best" in the league so far this season.
2 Brandon Yip scored his second and third of the season (including the OT winner) and threw in an assist against the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins) Friday night. Yip has five points on the season (3G,2A) through eight games.
3 The Admirals have scored only three power play goals on 28 opportunities for a 10.7 "success" rate.
4 Jason LaBarbera, Norfolk's "Number One" and Anaheim's "Number Three" has appeared in four games this season going 2-2 with a 3.25 Goals Against Average and a .886 save percentage. (Writer's note--YIKES!)
5 Norfolk is the fifth worst team in goals for per game averaging only 2.25, and is the third worst in goals against with 3.75. The Admirals scored only five goals in three games played since last Saturday, including a shutout loss Sunday against Hartford and the 3-2 OT win against Wilkes Barre-Scranton last night.
6 Chris Wagner scored his fifth goal of the season and assisted on Yip's OT goal against the baby Pens Friday night and leads Norfolk in goal scoring. Wagner is ahead of Brad Winchester for the points lead for the Admirals with seven points (Wagner 5G,2A Winchester 2G,4A) despite playing four less games.
7 Norfolk has allowed seven goals on 41 times shorthanded for 82.9 percent kill rate.
8 Jason LaBarbera and Igor Bobkov have combined for an .870 save percentage and a 3.83 goals-against average in the six games they've played this season. LaBarbera has won two, Bobkov none.
9 Nine different Admirals have registered ten or more shots on goal through the first eight games, however only four have scored a goal. 26 different skaters have appeared in at least one game this season but only nine players have found the back of the net.
10 Kicking the same horse--Norfolk currently owns a ten goal differential in first periods this season, scoring only four goals and allowing 14. Overall the Admirals have allowed 12 more goals against than scored, giving up 30 and scoring only 18.
--In case you didn't pick up on the subtle hints dropped above, the Admirals can't seem to stay out of the penalty box, keep the puck out of their own net, or worse yet put the puck in to opposing teams' nets! Norfolk returned home Friday night after a three-in-three road trip last weekend that really could not have gone any worse. Three games, three losses, twice shut out, 13 goals given up and only three goals those three games. Combine that with the 4-2 loss against the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings) the weekend before and the Admirals put together their first extended losing streak of the season. Thankfully most of it was on the road, sparing local fans the agony of the losses and not impacting the "fair-weather fans" to the point of staying away because "Norfolk sucks." There are growing pains for sure, but there were also some fundamentals that needed to be addressed, which is why this past week the coaching staff returned to the "training camp" mindset and focused on the basics like defense, checking, and simple execution.
--Shea Theodore, assigned to Norfolk on a conditioning stint, picked up his first point as an Admiral this season with an assist. Theodore is only allowed to play with the Admirals because he is still technically listed on Anahem's roster. Once he is declared healthy, he will either stay with the Ducks or be returned to the his junior team due to his age. Provided his junior team doesn't make an extended playoff run, Norfolk fans should expect to see him at the end of the season. Based on his play and potential, I would expect him to jump Norfolk completely next season and make the Ducks' roster.
--Patrick Maroon and Dany Heatley have both come off the injury list, and with Bryan Allen most likely to finish up his conditioning stint with tonight's game and return to Anaheim, it looks like Norfolk should see Josh Manson return to the lineup for next weekend. I'm also betting on Rickard Rakell finally being labled the odd-man out of the Ducks' roster and being sent to Norfolk as well. William Karlsson has proven to be the better of the two and with all of the injured players returning Anaheim will have to make some room.
--The win last night against the baby Penguins was an ugly one, but the fact that Norfolk rallied twice from being down a goal and own it in overtime speaks volumes about the character in the room and will hopefully convey the message to the fans that while the standings look bad (can't call it anything but) the team has pride and has not given up the ship yet. We'll see if that can carry over in to the second game of the weekend series Saturday night.
--Is Marty Brodeur still available, and would he bide his time in the AHL? I'm not sure what management thinks about its organizational goaltending depth, but I can say from watching here in Norfolk that it should be worried. Should something happen to both Andersen and Gibson that would keep them from playing, the Ducks are either going to have to channel the Washington Capitals of 4 years ago (best defense is a good offense) or a signing/trade is going to have to happen. Based on performance so far there is no way I would trust either LaBarbera or Bobkov between the pipes in Anaheim. Granted, it is still early, the Admirals are still finding their way, but a Norfolk goaltender has allowed four or more goals five times already this season (John Gibson with one of those) and a team should be able to rely on its netminder to steal one or two wins. Norfolk has enough trouble scoring goals as it is and having to play from behind all the time prevents them from playing their system through the entire game. Haven't had a chance to talk to either goalie but I have to believe there is all sorts of pressure on them to perform if they want to stick around in the organization or be signed somewhere else.
--Speaking of scoring goals, I'm hoping the coaching staff has beat home the fact that despite Chris Wagner's two shorties a month ago, most teams score goals when all five players are on the ice and not when there is one sitting in the box, particularly when there is a player in the box for over half the game. This past week the coaches talked about discipline, talked about staying out of the box, yet last night just 13 seconds in to the game Nic Kerdiles goes to the box for high-sticking. Two and a half minutes later, Wagner to the box, and four minutes later, Nathan McIver. There is no way Coach Skalde can try to put together a game plan when his team is playing five on five for only two of the first nine minutes of the game. I understand wanting to show up on the leader boards, but Norfolk will have to give up leading in penalty minutes and decide on another statistic to own (hopefully goaltending or offense) if they want to win some games.
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