AHL Game Night: 2-12-10 Devils at Admirals
Jaroslav Janus stopped all 24 shots he faced tonight for his first shutout as a professional. He didn't have to face a ton of quality chances, but he got himself in front of the ones Lowell did have. His athleticism is outstanding, and if his positioning ever catches up, he'll be an NHLer.
NOR Parrish, (13) (Fornataro, Fadden), 11:58
NOR Simek, (14) (Keller, Mihalik), 17:40 (PP)
NOR Tyrell, (3) (Tarkir), 17:37 (SH)
Janus, Dana Tyrell, and Mark Parrish were the game's three stars. It was a big night for the Presov Mafia all around between Janus' shutout, Juraj Simek having a power play goal, and big Vladimir Mihalik getting his 10th point of the season. All three players were born in Presov, Slovakia, and all three played well tonight.
For my money, Tyrell was the best player on the ice tonight, though. He's starting to exhibit a level of hockey sense in how to use his speed that I've never seen in his career, and it's got to have the Lightning salivating. He's so quick and his acceleration is so outstanding, defensemen are terrified of him. He's starting to use that to his advantage and curling when he gets into the zone to buy an extra 2-3 feet of ice, or slowing up a step to also buy him some space, and it gives him the chance to make the pass or shoot. It's a lot like how Martin St. Louis uses his speed, and Tyrell's shorthanded goal was a prime example of it. He barrelled into the zone on a 2-on-2, started to slow up as an Admirals trailer was jumping into the zone, and just allowed the traffic to flow by the net before blistering a top corner shot for the goal. Buy stock in Tyrell now while it's still undervalued. You'll make your money back five fold. On a related note, Mitch Fadden is an absolute magician with the puck when he has time and space. He's fun to watch when he's running the power play from the right wing half board.
Norfolk outshot Lowell 41-24 in the game, and it seemed like they played 3/4 of the night in the Devils' zone. In fairness, Lowell only dressed 4 natural defensemen tonight due to injuries and call ups. Norfolk gets Lowell again tomorrow night, and considering the way the blueliners on Lowell's tongues were wagging from fatigue, it's a prime chance for Norfolk to get back-to-back wins in two nights against the same opponent, which is difficult to do.
From a standings standpoint, it was a nearly perfect night for the Admirals. In the East Division, 2nd place Albany fell to Hershey, so the Admirals now close to within 4 points of second place with the River Rats having 1 game in hand. 3rd place Norfolk extended its lead over 4th place Adirondack, which was idle, to 4 points with the Phantoms holding 3 games in hand. They also extended their lead over 5th place Syracuse to 6 points after Syracuse was defeated by Portland. Syracuse holds 2 games in hand over Norfolk, and fell into a tie at 50 points with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which defeated Binghamton tonight in a shootout. The Pens hold two games in hand on the Admirals. The Admirals extended their lead over 7th place Binghamton to 9 points in the process, but the Sens hold 5 games in hand.
In the crossover, Providence blew out the Atlantic Division's 5th place team, Hartford, pulling the Admirals to within 1 point of the Wolf Pack with Hartford holding 1 game in hand. As readers of this blog are probably sick of hearing at this point, if the 5th place team in the Atlantic Division finishes ahead of the 4th place team in the East Division, they will still go to the playoffs, so it's important for the Admirals to not only take care of business in their division. They also need to try to make sure they outpace 5th place in the Atlantic to maximize their playoff chances. Bridgeport and Providence are tied for 6th in the Atlantic with 55 points, 1 point behind Norfolk with the Bruins having 1 game in hand on the Ads.
Norfolk has 15 home games remaining on the schedule and 11 on the road. They've pulled to 2 games under .500 at The Scope and they're 4 games over .500 away from home. Point being: if the Admirals can keep improving on their Division-worst home mark, they'll be in fantastic shape.
Jim Johnson is 9-1-1-1 in his first dozen games as Head Coach. Instant gratification.
Box score from TheAHL.com.