Boxcar numbers, sidecar thoughts, martini dreams
Norfolk wrapped up the first month (and a day) of their 2014-15 campaign. The Admirals started out hot and then flailed along until they got back to Scope. Key additions like Shea Theodore helped provide a later spark while Jason LaBarbera managed to stop enough pucks to make people forget he is not very good. Let’s go deeper.
Chris Wagner leads all Norfolk forwards with 5 goals in 5 games in addition to two assists. Wagner is technically the only point-per-game player on the team. It’s a lie. Wagner’s goal total is inflated by his 4 goals opening weekend. Since his return from Anaheim, Wagner has one goal in three games. Consequently, his inflated totals are due to a remarkable 50% shooting percentage. That will regress, eventually. Wagner went from a 6.8 SH% to 8.8% last year, which makes me think that an overall 9% shooting percentage is likely for the year. Now in his third professional year, Wagner needs to continue to improve his offensive game at the AHL level.
Brad Winchester is tied with Wagner, posting a tidy 3+4=7 points. Right now, Winchester has an 18.8 SH%. Expect that to drop to around 8-12%, given his professional history. The former Rockford IceHog was brought in for veteran scoring and he has added some of that already.
Rookie Nic Kerdiles has yet to breakout in terms of goalscoring. Kerdiles has provided 5 assists along with his lone goal. Once Kerdiles hones his shooting touch, he should either match or surpass Chris Wagner in terms of points. Kerdiles does need to learn not to take bad penalties. I’d really like to see him eliminate fighting from his game.
Veteran Brandon Yip, who had a great Halloween weekend, checks in with 3+2=5 points. Yip scored 60% of those points on Halloween night. After bouncing around the NHL for a while, Yip managed to post 34 points last year with the Portland Pirates. While it’s early, Yip needs to provide those kind of numbers for the rest of the year.
Where’s the rest of the scoring? No player has had more than three points. A lot of this can be attributed to being shutout twice in one weekend. Players like Antoine Laganiere, Louis Leblanc, and Matt Bailey need to offer bigger contributions. We don’t know how much was lost when Max Friberg went down on his first shift of the season. Stefan Noesen had three points in four games before he once again sustained an unlucky injury. Norfolk desperately needs a gamebreaker like Rickard Rakell, William Karlsson, or Emerson Etem for reinforcements.
Shea Theodore has two points in two games. The rest of the defense? Andrew O’Brien and Brendan Bell are tied with 3 points in 8 and 9 games, respectively. Theodore is ready of the AHL level, right now. There is not much the defenseman is going to learn by dominating WHL competition. Against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Theodore was playing top minutes against professional competition. He had the mistake here and there but otherwise looked at home with the Admirals.
Brendan Bell needs to step up his game or Anaheim needs to find defensive depth for the organization. It’s pretty slim thanks to Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm graduating.
John Gibson showed up for a weekend and played well the one game. He’s unsurprisingly leading the pack with an unspectacular .902 save percentage. Not to worry, he’s been aces in the NHL for the Ducks.
Which leaves Norfolk with Jason LaBarbera and Igor Bobkov. Labarbera has somehow won 3 games, largely due in part to the team in front of him. LaBarbera has a dreadful .898 save percentage which might one day hit .905 if we’re being optimistic. Despite being a viable goaltender in name, he’s now with Anaheim. Again, the team played really well and he earned his third win in three days.
Igor Bobkov is supposed to be proving himself. He’s played two games this season with a .844 save percentage. Thanks to a rash of injuries, Bobkov might get his third start this weekend. Can he prove that his ECHL development was real?
Norfolk needs a real goaltending, scoring depth, and someone on defense to step up offensively. Until then, this team is going to be stuck.
Brad Winchester’s stats from hockey-reference.com.
sound tiger, former bear, and conqueror of the crunch when he was an amerk sometimes david leggio does not care for two on 0s…..