1 Brad Winchester played in his first game last Sunday against the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) since an injury back on Nov 8 forced him to miss 25 straight. Josh Manson, who missed nine games due to an injury back on Dec 20, drew back in to the line up last night against the Hartford Wolfpack (New York Rangers).
2 Nic Kerdiles added his 14th helper of the season but just his second point through seven games in January last Saturday against the Bears. Kerdiles has just three points, all assists, in his last ten games and has been held pointless in seven of the ten.
3 Captain Dave Steckel has now scored goals in three consecutive games and picked up his second multi-point game of the season last night with a goal and an assist against the Wolfpack. Steckel has 16 points in 39 games (4G,12A)
4 Penalties, Penalties! Norfolk continues to hang out at the top of the league as the fourth most penalized team in the AHL. Norfolk has dropped its average from 22 minutes per game a few weeks ago down to 20.67, however that's still a whole period in the box. The "silver lining" to that horrible statistic is that the Admirals have the eleventh-best penalty kill in the league, allowing only 23 goals on 170 attempts for an 86.5% success rate.
5 Jason LaBarbera started his fifth game in January last night against Hartford, stopping 30 of 33 for an OT loss. LaBarbera has had an impressive month allowing just nine goals on 155 shots for a 1.75 GAA, a .942 SP, and a 2-1-2 record.
6 Louis Leblanc collected his sixth assist of the season last Saturday in Hershey. Leblanc has just one point in six games in January and 17 points (11G,6A) in 37 games for the Admirals.
7 Igor Bobkov played in his seventh game for the Admirals this season last Sunday in Hershey. Bobkov stopped 22 of 24 for just his second win this season.
8 Emerson Etem has tickled the twine five times in six games in January. Etem scored two goals and added an assist last Sunday against the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals) and socred his eighth of the season last night against Hartford with just 1:20 left on the clock to force the game in to overtime. Etem now has 12 points in 11 games (8G,4A).
9 William Karlsson collected his ninth point of the season last Sunday in Hershey, assisting on Emerson Etem's power play goal, his second point through seven games in January and second power play point of the season. Karlsson has four goals and five assists through 22 games.
10 Norfolk has points in seven of its last ten games (again) going 3-3-2-2 and three wins out of a four game road trip, all against East division rivals. Norfolk has shown for a second week to have arrested its slide down the standings and managed to keep the "narrow" gap to the last playoff spot to nine points.
--Compared to last week's term paper, this week's comments will be short....
--John Gibson has been out for two straight weeks and still nothing official from either the Ducks or the Admirals. I tried as hard as I could to get an update and the best I was given was "an illness, flu-like symptoms." It's getting to the point now where I'd just like to be told it is the mumps, because Gibson has missed more time than any other player who contracted the illness in either the NHL or AHL. At least if it is the mumps, no one need worry that he's got something more serious and there would be some indication of a timeline for a return.
--Norfolk was on the road last week and through the weekend at a critical juncture in their season. Statistically speaking, the Admirals had a choice to make--they could continue to sit back and play for their paychecks, or carry some momentum from a recent wins and convert that in to a "playoff push." Norfolk came out of their four game road trip that saw them play three games in three nights and brought home six of a possible eight points. On the road. Prior to that road trip, Norfolk was 3-12-0-1 away from Scope. The Admirals doubled their road wins in just one week. That's pretty incredible.
--Jason LaBarbera is on fire in January. I noted his stats above, but the quality of his play can not be over-stated. I've said before that the pressure on Norfolk's netminders is incredible, having to essentially play a perfect game for Norfolk to even have a chance at OT, let alone a win. LaBarbera has played in just 13 games this season but his save percentage has gone up each month that he's been between the pipes:
October: 4 games 13 goals on 114 shots 3.25GAA .886 SP
November: 1 game 1 goal on 23 shots 1.00GAA .957 SP (we'll throw this one out, too small a sample size)
December: 2 1/3 games 6 goals on 66 shots 2.85GAA .909 SP
January: 5 games 9 goals on 155 shots 1.75GAA .942 SP
I'm a believer now.
--Last thing I wanted to note about the Admirals that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Ducks, and that's One-Goal Games.
Norfolk has played 39 games so far this season and 20 of them have been decided by one goal. 50 percent! Much like the Ducks, the Admirals have mostly had success, going 10-6-2-2. Keeping in mind the Admirals goal scoring average of just slightly over two goals per game and that makes for some low-scoring hockey games. In fact, Norfolk has scored three or more goals just 13 times this season and won nine of them. Guess the adage that the first team to three wins really does hold true, at least in the AHL.
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