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Admirals Stat-urday: Cutting it Close

This week the idle Admirals watched a divisional rival push them out of the post-season race for the first time this season Wed night. Their win Friday brought them back in, but by just one point. Norfolk is now in a sprint to the finish with other teams mere strides behind them.

Matt Bailey takes a face-off at Norfolk Scope
Matt Bailey takes a face-off at Norfolk Scope
Courtesy John Wright/Norfolk Admirals

1 Matt Bailey, signed recently to an ATO and playing in just his third game with the Admirals, scored his first professional goal Friday night against the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers).

2 Norfolk spent the first two nights of the season outside the playoff race from Wednesday to Friday. The idle Admirals watched their divisional rival Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) win on Wednesday night and jump them with a one point standings lead.  Norfolk recovered the eighth and final spot with a win on Friday night while the Bears were idle.  The Admirals now hold a one point lead over Hershey with both teams in action Saturday night.

3 Defenseman Steve Eminger notched his third assist and fifth point of the season in Friday's win over Adirondack.

4 The Admirals ended their second four game skid of the season with a win 2-1 overtime win against Adirondack Friday.  Norfolk's last four game losing streak was Dec 14-20 when they went 0-3-1.

John Gibson picked up his fifth shootout win Friday night, stopping 32 of 33 in regulation and OT and all five
Phantoms' shooters in the shootout.  Gibson had lost his last three starts, and the win was his first since Mar 19th.

6 Chris Wagner's "weekend" scoring streak was halted at six straight weekends after he (and pretty much the rest of the team) failed to score against the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins).  Wagner now has 14 goals, 10 assists, and 24 points on the season.

7 Devante Smith-Pelly scored his seventh goal in the month of March, the lone goal in the second of back-to-back
2-1 losses against the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins).  He currently leads the Admirals
in goals with 27. [Ed. Note: and was called up on Saturday in place of Tim Jackman, who broke his hand in the loss to Nashville Friday night. -CK]

8 The Admirals have just eight games remaining in the season, two at home and six on the road.  This weekend and next weekend feature the infamous "three-in-three with a twist"--Norfolk will play three games, in three nights, in three different cities.  Ahh, the joys of the AHL schedule....

9 Friday night's 2-1 shootout win was Norfolk's ninth this season and the 20th time the Admirals needed extra time to decide a winner.

Norfolk is now 4-5-1-0 in their last ten games, not exactly the record a team looking for the post-season would like to post this late in the season.  In that period the Admirals found the back of the net 22 times while their opponents returned fire 29 times.

--Radislav Illo, who saw his first professional action last Saturday night against Wilkes Barre-Scranton, was held out of Friday night's game due to injury.  Recently signed center William Karlsson and big defenseman  Josh Manson got in to Friday's game and will provide some much needed positional help.  Karlsson, a natural center, will fill the gap left by the recall of Rickard Rakell and give the Admirals four centers, allowing Smith-Pelly to return to the wing.

--John Gibson, who had just three wins and nine losses in March with a .894 save percentage, seemed to be playing to his old form in Friday's game against Adirondack.  Gibson will be heavily ridden down the stretch as the Admirals will try to grab every point they can to get in to the playoffs. [Ed. Note:  Unless he spends that time up in Anaheim, as he was also called up due to Frederik Andersen being out after taking a Shea Weber shot off the noggin.  -CK]

--There really isn't much more to say, Norfolk MUST win.  If they let Hershey get a game up on them it could spell real trouble, save for the fact that the Admirals face the Bears twice more at Scope before the end of the season.  It's pretty much understood that those two games will decide whether or not Norfolk is going on to the first round or scheduling check-out interviews on April 20th.

--Lastly, just want to say thanks again to Anaheim Calling for having me on last weekend.  I always enjoy talking hockey and it was my pleasure to share the future of the Admirals/Ducks organization with all the Anaheim fans out there.  The opportunity was greatly appreciated and hopefully I'll be able to be on again in the post-season!

Follow me on Twitter: @VAPuckhead