You can’t do much about luck.
Norfolk’s last season in the AHL has been downright miserable. What’s ridiculous about this is that the team continues to play better than the score might indicate. Unfortunately, they’ve seen ridiculously low levels of bad luck this season. The statistic PDO (or in NHL parlance, SPSv) is a measure of a team’s luck. The idea is that it combines the shooting percentage and save percentage of the team, with the average being around 1000. Teams under 1000 are unlucky, teams over 1000 are lucky. As the PDO number moves further from 1000, how lucky or unlucky a team is the rate becomes more extreme. Norfolk’s problem, for the most part, is abysmal shooting.
For the year, the Admirals have posted a 6.7 shooting percentage. Such a number is unheard of, a level of anemic goalscoring one couldn’t even possibly try to produce. Arizona, a team actively trying to lose at this point, has a 6.88 shooting percentage in the NHL. The difference there is that they also fail to possess the puck–something Norfolk doesn’t have trouble doing this year. Where is the problem, then? Injuries at the NHL level and a failure to really assess and evaluate AHL talent by Anaheim lead to a depleted forward corps this year. Players that contributed large portions of offense last year moved on to an NHL full-time gig, were injured, or shuttled between Virginia and California. In their place, a series of PTOs that didn’t materialize,and goaltending that couldn’t save low-scoring games.
The AHL is ending in Norfolk, even though the Admirals are somehow not technically eliminated from the postseason race. Despite this, games are still going on for the rest of the season. Players will ply their trade, perhaps in an effort to stay with Anaheim or get noticed by other scouts. Remember–this is their job, and they’d like to stay employed. Watching the team will be worth it to see them say their goodbyes, to hopefully end out the AHL era on a whim, and see potential NHL talent at the next level.
The ECHL is coming back to Norfolk. Moods have gone from a righteous indignation about the AHL leaving to a reserved acceptance of professional hockey staying at the corner of St. Paul’s and Brambleton. Will it be the same hockey? Of course not, but maybe that’s a good thing. Next season will start, and perhaps the team will start winning at an impressive clip. Right now, the AHL is still here.