Norfolk has lost nine straight games. Where do they go?
Friday night, Alex Ranger tied for the club lead in goals, with his sixth of the season. Ranger’s tally met the mark of Josh Currie–who’s been with the Bakersfield Condors since November 17th.
Nic Blanchard, signed to the team on Black Friday, earned half of that total in two games this weekend. Such is the case with the Norfolk Admirals, who are now the losers of eight consecutive decisions. A combination of injuries and call-ups have forced the team to play its current hand, which often means defensemen at forward or playing one skater down most nights. Sometimes, it means sticking with the goalie you have.
Each game this week told a different story; the games against Manchester were at least encouraging. Wednesday’s game against Greenville was a 6-0 thumping by the Swamp Rabbits. Norfolk iced a short-handed team, Ty Rimmer was far from brilliant in goal, and hastily acquired forward Kurt Etchegary retired the next day.
Friday saw what was probably the most complete effort in a while from the Ads. Down 4-1 to the Monarchs, the Ads used score effects to their advantage and managed to tie. It would not last, as the Monarchs would take the lead. Late in the game, Alex Ranger would fire a tough angle backhander from the bottom of the circle which would equalize the game. The Ads would ultimately lose in a shootout. Curiously, Gabriel Verpaelst went in the shootout instead of club points leader Charles Roussel.
With some sort of offensive vigor behind them, the Ads would try again Saturday night. They brought some goals, and a backup in Springfield Falcons (Coyotes) goaltender Tyler Beskorowany. They forgot to play defense or offense or both.
Despite a magical 2nd period where the Ads scored on 2/4 of their shots, they never quite got it together. Teams can’t get outshot by a score of 39-24 every night and expect to win. Here are some thoughts on what it might take to win, one day
one more save
Norfolk was one save away from winning on Friday and at least one away from a point on Saturday. Problem is that the goalie situation is mostly fluid. Ty Rimmer, the nominal #1 goaltender, sits at a .909 Sv% for the season. While he doesn’t have a great defense in front of him and he’s played the 3rd most minutes in the ECHL, that save percentage is close to his career average. Rimmer’s best season as a pro was his rookie season, where he had a .906 in 39 games with the Quad City Mallards, then part of a smaller Central Hockey League.
Outside of his 2011-12 season with Tri-City of the WHL, Rimmer has never posted a save percentage of over .912%. (He did post .930 in 3 games with OKC two years ago, but sample size).
Beskorowany fell to a .919% save percentage after Saturday’s game. If the Falcons and Coyotes can stay healthy, that’s a good sign for the Ads. Beskorowany has floated closer to that range in his ECHL career, thought it may not be enough for the Ads to win.
Both of these players together form an acceptable tandem, but not one that’s most likely not going to steal a game away for the Ads. Unfortunately, this Admirals team needs such a goaltender.
more shots the other way
Charles-Olivier Roussel currently leads the team in points, with 15, good for a deflating 40th in the entire league. At least he’s backed up by a d-corps with some scoring ability, including 8 points from Gabriel Verpaelst and 7 from Ben Betker, an Oilers draft choice. While this is nice, the entire defense itself appears to be scrambly and unorganized.
Going into tonight’s game, the Admirals ranked last in shots against per game, almost three full shots more than Kalamazoo. Teams cannot continue to do this and make things happen. Norfolk is an average-at-best 16th producing shots, which does not outweigh the many events they end up allowing. The Ads were, no surprise, at their best on Friday when they owned the zone in the 2nd and 3rd periods against Manchester.
Injuries to the defense all year have no doubt affected some of the play. Adding a guy late like Andrew Blazek adds some stability, but it gets taken away when Jordan Hill has to play center due to an injury at forward. At least the penalty kill is good, because they have lots of practice.
nic blanchard being joined by josh currie or marco roy or
Nic Blanchard was a smart signing for the Ads, one that made you wonder why they didn’t do so earlier. Blanchard is a seven-year AHL vet and instantly the team’s best player (3 goals in 2 games proves that, surely), at least until Josh Currie comes back.
Norfolk can not go without its best players, and it has an entire line of decent players still on IR: Max Legault, Chase Schaber, and Nick MacNeil, just to start. Recent acquisition Peter MacIntyre also hit the scratch list on Saturday, adding to the hits.
Perhaps the loss is the hardest from an overall organizational standpoint. Marco Roy, Greg Chase, Josh Currie, and Alexis Loiseau are all currently in Bakersfield as a result of injuries. The Condors are still playing defenseman Nick Pageau at forward. Currie’s loss hurts the most, as he is still second in scoring despite missing seven Admirals games due to call-up.
Right now, Norfolk is in the unenviable position of playing Ryan Jasinksy as a necessity. Jasinsky last played at a level close to the ECHL in 2010, and didn’t make much of an impact in his three games. Not a good one, anyway. Jasinsky managed 24 PIM in 3 games, which is twice that of Betker in 20 games.
The Admirals need some sort of consistency to happen where they can play the ECHL standard 10 F/6 D with two healthy goaltenders. Maybe they’ll get it, but probably no time soon. Edmonton is already out Connor McDavid, Rob Klinkhammer, Justin Schultz, and Nail Yakupov. Bakersfield feels that by sending up players of their own. Granted: I can’t exactly figure out who is and is not injured for the Condors because they don’t tweet out an injury report. I realize how dumb that sounds–still, 2015 is almost over and you don’t do that?
I can’t think of any other way this team is going to get a win. At least luck worked for them in the past.
forward Tommy Mele missed Friday and Saturday night’s game for bereavement leave…