This team is…inconsistent?
Norfolk played their second homestand of the season, hosting the Manchester Monarchs. When these teams last vet, the eight-seeded Admirals upended the first-ranked Monarchs behind incredible goaltending by John Gibson. As luck would have it, Gibson was back in this weekend.
Wanting a chance to get some work in, Gibson and Anaheim made use of his ELC and sent him to Norfolk. Reeling from a 5-2 loss to Hershey, the Admirals needed a spark. It was a short week as well, and the team lost leading goal-scorer Chris Wagner to the Ducks. Norfolk had offensive splash in their first game and a defensive lapse in their second. Which team would show up during the weekend?
Neither team really showed up on Friday. It was a fight-filled night with some likely (John Kurtz, Nathan McIver) and unlikely combatants (Nic Kerdiles). Gibson showed some rust in the first period as he was unable to stop a shorthanded breakway which gave the Monarchs the lead. He stood tall through the rest of the period. Norfolk would get on the board in a big way in the second.
Nic Kerdiles stripped a puck from a Manchester defender, spun around to avoid another, and passed to Antonine Laganiere. The Giraffe made a couple timely dekes and finished backhand on JF Berube to tie the game. Later, Matt Bailey would get free, streak down the right wing and fire from the right ring to have a puck go past Berube’s five hole for his second marker of the year. Manchester was not done.
Near the end of the period, the Monarchs would get a power play. Within the last 10 seconds, Manchester would attack the net, get Gibson down, and put in a rebound. Originally, the goal was scored at 20:00. It now reads 19:59. How would the Ads respond?
Resiliently. In the third, Stefan Noesen would take a puck blueline to blueline, breaking in a lone and firing the eventual game winner past Berube. Norfolk would hold on for their second win. They were a fast, defensively responsible team that found key goals from their talent. Saturday?
Another story entirely. Manchester would go up 2-0 in the first and force the Admirals to once again play from behind. Resiliency was still there and showed up in the second period. Nic Kerdiles won a board battle behind the net and passed the puck to Stefan Noesen, who found a wide-open Brad Winchester at the right post for a goal. Norfolk would play with more jump, more resolve and started going back on the attack.
It paid off on the power play. Brendan Bell stripped a Monarch of the puck near center ice, and then hit Nic Kerdiles who was on the right wall near the red line. Kerdiles found Laganiere near the top of the slot, and then the Giraffe hit his second of the weekend. The team could come back!
The best laid plans of mice and men, as they say, often go awry. Manchester would score again to make it 3-2 in the third period. While not ideal, not impossible. Until Jesse Blacker-playing forward on Saturday-took a delay of game penalty. Again, not ideal but not the end of the world. Then the faceoff happened. Manchester would win, fire towards the net, and have the puck deflect off of Mat Clark (who was near the net) and tip in for a 4-2 Monarchs lead. Ultimately, this would be the final score. What do we know?
this team (and the ducks) needs to get healthy
Antoine Laganiere stepping up is great but the team needs to have depth. Nic Kerdiles is starting to emerge- he should be credited with 2 assists tonight- which is a good thing. Norfolk can only get better when they are returned Chris Wagner and Max Friberg heals. Both are responsible two-way players who can make an impact on the ice.
Further, Anaheim needs Pat Maroon, Kyle Palmieri, and Dany Heatley to get healthy. Doing this will force Bruce Boudreau and Bob Murray to make some decisions about their team. The easiest decisions to make are those involving ELCs, which means players who do not require waivers. Chris Wagner is a lock to come back when someone is healthy. The next player up would be the 3C contest between Rickard Rakell and William Karlsson. Both Swedes have a bright future but only one can play third-line center. Currently, Wild Bill Karlsson is leading that competition by a wide margin. Rakell-who is only in his second pro season-is likely to be returned to get top-6 minutes. Norfolk could use a playmaker like Rakell. Emerson Etem is another candidate. Surprising at is, he is still easily moveable. He’s capable of being sent down without clearing waivers, and he might need it. Etem is having a poor possession year so far and hasn’t really found his game. He may need more AHL time.
john gibson is still a work in progress
John Gibson is another second-year pro. Despite his early success in the NHL and AHL, he’s still not quite there yet. He had a solid performance on Friday night (where he faced more shots) but was somewhat lackluster on Saturday night (where he faced less). The number of shots may be incidental, really. Gibson is not going to be the #1 in Anaheim this year and it’s a bit surprising that the Ducks are still going to lean on him as a backup. A plan to shuttle him back and forth between leagues is probably not the best idea. If you want him to get starts, keep him in the AHL. John Gibson’s good but he’s not beating out Frederik Andersen anytime soon.
mat clark and jesse blacker are uh well
Not that great. Mat Clark missed most of last year with an injury, and that can slow development. The problem is that Clark is deep into his professional career and has not made a real mark in the Anaheim organization. It’s surprising that he was a second round pick considering he was never much of a two-way player. Clark is supposed to be defensively responsible, at least. He isn’t. Anaheim needs to consider trading him. A change of scenery might help.
Speaking of that, Jesse Blacker has been healthy scratched twice and played forward tonight. Jarrod Skalde admitted that was his mistake, and that it may not have worked. On tonight’s radio broadcast, Dennis McEwen described Blacker’s play as “treading water”. It’s an apt description. Other than a few decent looks on the power play, the supposed offensively minded defenseman has been quiet. I understand the Peter Holland trade, but it’s been a return with diminishing dividends. Norfolk needs to find a way to shore up the defense, perhaps by calling up a player from Utah.
Norfolk’s still tied for first in the division with 4 points and playoff berths haven’t been assigned. A lot can be done to improve and a lot can go wrong. Hopefully, the former.
Stefan Noesen left Saturday’s game with an injury…Ryan Faragher picked up his first pro win in his debut for Utah…As this weekend were Dave Steckel, Brad Winchester, and John Kurtz…