With the Admirals getting a clean break in terms of calendar dates, it’s time to look back at the month that was.
Record: 5-2-0-2, 12 points, 2nd in the division. The Ads got off to a nice start this year netting points in 7 out of 9 games. In a tough East division, those points can make the difference between playoffs and staying home, as we saw last year. Norfolk got to four shootout games (two versus Albany, one a piece against Bridgeport and Hartford to open the season). That means the Admirals had three regulation wins, with two of them coming this past weekend.
Leading Scorer: 4-way tie, Alex Grant, Charlie Sarault, Rickard Rakell, Kevin Gagne with 5 pts a piece. The Ads have a nice problem here with the depth problem. Scoring has come from several different places, with these players showing up on the score sheet the most often. I’m most impressed with Rakell. The rookie center always seems like a threat to score in any situation,and these point totals don’t account for his shootout goals. Speaking of goals, Rakell is tied with Grant for 4 a piece. A big note here is that Grant had three of his goals in one whole night. Gagne, funny enough, has no goals and only assists. Between Gagne and Grant, the Ads have definite firepower on the blue line.
Goalie leaders: John Gibson, .953 SV%, 1.44 GAA. Gibson, the highly-touted goalie prospect, has lived up to his hype so far. He’s been one of the best goalies in the AHL, as a whole. With Frederik Andersen in Anaheim (and most likely staying there for a while), Gibson has taken over the reigns of a true number one goalie. Given the team’s hit-or-miss 5v5 play, Gibson is definitely the best player on the team right now.
Call-ups: Frederik Andersen, Peter Holland, Devante Smith-Pelly, Rickard Rakell. In my mind, this list was much bigger in terms of size. Truthfully, these players represent a large part of the Admirals’ core. Andersen, of course, was incredibly reliable in goal for Norfolk last year and looked to make a fearful tandem with John Gibson. Due to an injury to Viktor Fasth, Andersen made his way to Anaheim and eventually found himself in some games. He’s undefeated on the season and has looked impressive. DSP and Holland have played in a few games this year, with Holland netting a goal for the Ducks. THIS JUST IN: Rickard Rakell, who played all of zero games with the Ducks this year, has been reassigned to the Admirals.
Looking ahead to this weekend
Norfolk has another three-in-three this weekend which provides the team with an opportunity for six points. They’ll play three teams they’ve already faced this year, so we can do a season series!
vs Albany, season series 1-0-0-1: Last home stand, the ADevs came to town and played boring, methodical trap hockey which lead to two shootouts. The teams split the weekend, with John Gibson being the goaltender of record for both games.
vs Bridgeport: 0-0-0-1: Norfolk played its second game of the season against the Tigers. Gibson got his first professional start and came away with a shoot-out loss. Bridgeport now stands at the bottom of the league.
vs Hershey: 0-1-0-0: Ads played Hershey last weekend on the tail end of a three-in-three, resulting in a loss. Igor Bobkov got the decision in that game, expect the Russian goalie to play at least one game this weekend.
Anaheim D Luca Sbisa will be on the Admirals for a “long-term conditioning assignment”. This allows the Ducks to send Sbisa down for a short period of time for rehab without having to clear waivers. According to Eric Stephens, Sbisa will get to play either three games or six days. Expect him to play two out of three games, and then for some heavy decision making to happen with the Ducks on the blue line. If I had to guess, Sbisa will rotate in to the Warg/Skinner revolving door on defense. Sorry, Garnet Exelby fans.