After a regular season dominated by outstanding play, the veterans of the Norfolk Admirals are stepping up in the playoffs. The veteran movement is being led by Alexandre Picard who tallied 4 goals and 4 assists through 4 games in the first round. Trevor Smith is second in scoring with 6 points (2g4a) and the outstanding rookie out of Harvard Alex Killorn is third in points with 1 goal and 5 assists, his 1 goal being the game winner from game 5 off a hard earned assist from Picard. The AHL MVP and Rookie of the Year Cory Conacher has been off to a slow start through the first series but still has 4 points and still trying to get his first playoff goal.
Special teams is a very important part of the post season and the Admirals haven’t quite capitalized on the power play, 16.7% and ranked 9th in the league, but the penalty kill has been nothing short of amazing through the first round. They have killed 24 of 25 and are ranked second in the league with the OK City Barons leading the league at 100% PK, although they have had nearly half the penalties to kill. The Ads are the second most penalized team in the playoffs behind the Hershey Bears who were eliminated by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, a trend that carried over from the regular season where they amassed 1437 PIMs and third overall.
The goaltending tandem of Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslav Janus is still doing well but it looks like Tic may have won the starting job after Janus finally lost a game. If anything they would both improve by what could be called shaky defense at times. Keith Aulie seems to not quite understand the system and before game 5 was chasing a lot of forwards and having to dive and try to block passing lines rather than use his size and strength and eliminate the forward from the equation. Game 5 was by far his best game, hopefully it carries over and he becomes a big part of this playoff run.
The Admirals face the Connecticut Whale in the second round starting Wednesday at 7:00. They went undefeated against them during regular season play, 4-0, and I think they will match up better against them than the Manchester Monarchs in the first round. The Whale swept the higher seeded Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 3 games, first round was best of 5.
If you have any questions post them up here or tweet at me @ShawnDulin. Give the game a listen as well at 1021thegame.com, broadcasting usually starts 10 minutes before game time and depending on battery life, android phone ya know, I tweet throughout the game as well.