1 Norm Ezekiel and Steve Eminger both scored their first of the season last Saturday against the Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay Lightning). Ezekiel would add an assist for two points in the game and now has three on the season (1G,3A).
2 Only two players, Chris Wagner and Zack Stortini, have played in all 47 Admirals games this season.
3 The Admirals are third best in the AHL in Goals Against, and considering they've used five different goaltenders this season that's a pretty damn good spot to be in. In 47 games played, the five goalies have given up 120 goals and are sitting with a very respectable 2.55 Goals Against Average.
4 John Gibson picked up his fourth shutout win of the season Friday night against the Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers). Gibson is currently ranked third among active goaltenders in both saves (848) and shut-outs.
5 Norfolk's "other" goalie, Brad Thiessen, got his second win of season in shoot-out win over Syracuse. In five games he is 2-1-0-2 with 9 Goals Against, a 1.88 Goals Against Average, and a .946% Save Percentage. I say other because he isn't John Gibson, but both the players and the coaching staff have said multiple times, the Admirals are VERY lucky to have him. I agree wholeheartedly.
6 Forward Chris Wagner scored his sixth goal of the season Friday night against Hartford. It would be the game's only goal and Wagner's second game winning goal of the season.
7 The Admirals continue to "make their money" in extra time, leading the league in Overtime points with 28 (almost half of their total points). Preferring the shoot-out to an OT win, the Admirals have won a league leading eight and lost a league leading seven games in the shoot-out.
8 Devante Smith-Pelly (yes, him again) scored his eighth Power Play goal of the season against the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) last Sunday, Norfolk's lone goal in 3-1 loss.
9 Rickard Rakell made his return Friday night against the Wolf Pack after missing nine straight games to injury. Rakell, the Admirals' leading active point scorer, put up two shots on goal in the 1-0 contest.
10 Norfolk is 6-1-0-3 in its last ten games, picking up points in nine of their last ten.
--Not a lot of individual notes to put out there this week, DSP continues to put points on the board (although he has only one point in the past three games). Not sure yet if the continued line-juggling is affecting his game, though it could be a factor. He was having great success playing with Rakell and Emerson Etem and continued to have some success after Rakell went down with an injury and Dave Steckel stepped in. Then Steckel got called up and returned, Etem got called up, and Smith-Pelly was bounced around in attempts to fit him with the right players. He's shown he CAN play with almost anyone and in any situation, however there's a difference between playing and being productive. We'll see how things shake out...
--Teams love goalies that can steal games, and that's exactly what John Gibson did for the Admirals Friday night against Hartford. Everyone from the players and coaches called the game "sloppy," and Coach Yawney said it looked like a game from October. The one point everyone (except Gibson himself) made was that their goalie kept the team in the game, gave them a chance to win, and held on until a greasy goal could be scored.
I remember getting in to arguments about the merits of Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood, and whether or not he deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. Sure, he had trophies, awards, etc, but my argument against his entry was that he was an average goalie who played behind a team that played superior defense. Osgood didn't have to routinely steal games, he just watched his team mates shut-down opposing teams and made a lot of routine saves. He benefited from the system and rode along as the team concept carried them all to the playoffs and championships.
To me, a good goalie steals games, or at least stands out as giving his team the chance to win every night. Thus far every goalie that's put on an Admirals' sweater has done that, and the proof is in the over time and shoot-out stats I quoted above. Norfolk's goalies, and Gibson in particular, can be credited for most of those points picked up in extra time. If Gibson can get to play behind a team that can support him with some regular offense, he's destined to do great things. He's learning the ropes this season, and finding out what it takes to play in close games, effectively seeing low-scoring playoff hockey for an entire season. It's a valuable lesson that can only be taught in the AHL, and Admirals' fans are very lucky to watch his education in action.
--Just some food for thought, and I welcome any and all comments. Viktor Fasth, the intended Anaheim back-up goalie, had been out with a "lower-body injury" and has recently started participating in full practices with the Ducks, presumably with the intention of getting back in to games after the Olympic break. So, what does Anaheim do with its overabundance of goaltenders?
GM Bob Murray has already said he's not trading Jonas Hiller, and to be quite honest I don't blame him, as Hiller is the only goaltender with bona-fide post-season experience under his belt. I'd be tempted to see what Fasth can bring back in a trade, but the guy hasn't been healthy enough this season for any sane GM to take a chance on. Gibson isn't going anywhere, unless of course the Ducks are guaranteed some big names in return, which leaves Frederik Andersen and Brad Thiessen.
Andersen has proven a steady and reliable back-up this season, and in my mind is on the same list as Gibson as "not going anywhere." In fact, depending on how things shake out, I could see Andersen and Gibson as your goaltending tandem in Anaheim next season. Thiessen has years of professional experience and could be a number one goalie on other AHL teams, perhaps even a back-up on an NHL team. He's a good influence on Gibson and is a safe play no matter who the opposition is, and in my mind also shouldn't be going anywhere.
When talking about potential trades however, who needs a goaltender? What do the Ducks need that they don't have now? When I look at the goaltending market I don't see a huge demand, which in turn means teams aren't going to be that likely to give up any big assets. Should the Ducks ride out the season with Hiller, possibly ending up getting nothing when he walks away at the end of the season, or do they make a play for some as-yet-unidentified missing piece for their run in the post season?
My opinion, you move someone. But, as I am not paid to be a coach, scout, or GM, my opinions are just that, opinions. However, it does provide a great opportunity for conversation and speculation, so please join in and lend your thoughts.
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