AHL Game Night: Tonight, 7:30 PM EDT, Albany at Norfolk.
The Norfolk Admirals (the Tampa Bay Lightning 's AHL affiliate) are on a bit of a streak these days. Tonight, they play for a new AHL record. If they beat the Albany Devils, they will have the longest win streak in the American Hockey League's 76 years, with 19 in a row. Right now they hold the single-season record, achieved when they defeated the Charlotte Checkers in Charlotte on Sunday (which our very own Tina Robinson attended).
That's right. The Admirals haven't lost since the Super Bowl was played. And let me tell you, this has been a wild ride. Somewhere around the end of February, Tyler Johnson's regular Twitter comment became an oft-repeated maxim around here: At this point, eighteen's a fluke, but nineteen's a streak.
And we're pulling for them. These are our boys. Some of them--okay, a lot of them--have played in Lightning blue this season. Mike Angelidis, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Evan Oberg, Trevor Smith, Dustin Tokarski. (Dana Tyrell, J.T. Wyman, and Brandon Segal, have all played in Norfolk this season, too.)
And when you take a look at how they've accomplished this, things get even more remarkable.
They've done it with players being called up to the Lightning. Whenever a Lightning player gets injured, the Admirals lose one of their better players. Trevor Smith--second on the Ads in points, and in Tampa since March 17. Dustin Tokarski--their number one goaltender. The players in Norfolk have been able to step up when called to. And that doesn't even consider the injuries they've suffered.
They've done it with very young players, many of them rookies. Cory Conacher and Tyler Johnson are currently first and sixth in the AHL in points (first and fourth among rookies). Johnson has the longest active point streak in the league, 22 points in 10 games. Cory Conacher, Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik, Ondrej Palat, Philip-Michael Devos, Jeff Dimmen, Alex Hutchings, and now Bryan Brutlag and Alex Killorn, making his professional debut tonight. Out of the twenty-two players currently on the Admirals roster, eight are rookies. Carter Ashton, who played in eight of these games before he was traded on Feb 27, makes nine.
They've done it almost completely in regulation. Only one of these victories came via a shootout, the Feb 18 game against the Syracuse Crunch. None of the others even went into overtime.
They've done it with secondary scoring. Fourteen different players have game-winning goals since the team last lost on Feb. 5. Five of those players have been rookies.
They've done it on the road. Ten of the eighteen victories have come in road games.
Any way you slice it, this has been a remarkable run, and it has set the team up for the playoffs quite nicely. Whatever happens from here on out, the Admirals are ten points up on their closest competitors.
You can catch Admirals games on 1021thegame.com (radio--no charge, but you have to have the right browser & add-ons) and AHL Live (online streaming) on a pay-per-view basis. Single games are $6.99 or you can buy 5-game ($6.49/game) and 10-game ($5.99/game) packages. On Twitter, follow:
or subscribe to the Lightning's player-prospect twitter list.
Meanwhile, check out Coach Jon Cooper's take on the team and the franchise right now.