by Meghan Rock
The All-Star break marks the unofficial halfway point of the AHL schedule. It’s no secret that the Admirals have had a successful start to their 50th season. The Ads are defending well and scoring goals down low, helping put them at the top of the Central Division with a 31-8-4-2 record.
Looking ahead, Head Coach Karl Taylor and his staff are anticipating the winning trend to continue, regardless of who is in the Admirals lineup. Let’s take a look at some of Karl’s Keys to Success to keep the team at the top of their game.
1. GOALS INSIDE THE HASH MARKS
Milwaukee has notched 151 goals in 45 games this season. A majority of the team’s success has come as a result of driving to the net. However, the players willingness to drive the net wasn’t always present.
“Early on in the season, the first four or five games, we weren’t as willing to go to that area as a group,” Taylor said. “We addressed it, we reinforced it, we taught it and we encouraged it.”
Following a few adjustments, the Admirals began to produce inside of the hash marks; 62 percent of their goals have been scored inside of the red parallel lines.
As a result, driving the net has become a staple in Milwaukee’s identity.
“We like going to the net. We go there aggressively,” Taylor said. “It’s just part of our culture and what we do here at Ads hockey.”
2. WATCH THE PENALTIES
In the Admirals fifth game this season against the Colorado Eagles, Milwaukee recorded 70 penalty minutes. A majority of the time spent in the box came as a result of fighting or game misconducts, which ultimately overshadowed the Admirals five minor penalties of tripping, hooking, slashing and boarding. Milwaukee sits third in the division with 656 minutes recorded.
However, Taylor said he would rather examine the type of penalty as opposed to total number of minutes.
“I’d like to see o-zone stick penalties eliminated,” Taylor said. “You’re always going to have some of those, but we want to make sure that we get those numbers down.”
During the second half of the season, Taylor wants to see his players move their legs and get inside and underneath of their opponent, rather than reaching for the puck and trying to extend plays. Nonetheless, Taylor and his staff are not going to change the aggressive part of the Admirals game.
“We’re going to continue to play hard. We’re going to continue to look for confrontations. We’re going to continue to go to the net and the hard areas.”
3. MUSIC CITY MOVEMENT
The recall from management in Nashville can come at any given moment, which plays a part in the Admirals lineup.
OVerall nine Admirals have received the call and spent time with the Predators. Surprisingly, this year’s movement between Milwaukee and Nashville hasn’t affected the Admirals roster as it had in years past.
“This year we have had better depth. We play four lines up front and basically six D,” Taylor said. “It’s not like we’re playing one line three minutes and then they have to step up when players get recalled. They’ve been used to playing lots.”
In conjunction with depth, the consistent messaging from Taylor and his staff, along with the effort from the players, the opportunity to perform and remain consistent is unified.
4. KEEP THE PEDAL TO THE METAL
With being first in the Central Division by 10 points and including a franchise record 13-game winning streak, it could be easy to get complacent and take your foot off the gas. However, Taylor isn’t worried about his team becoming satisfied.
The leadership of the older players, such as captain Jarred Tinordi and the maturity of the younger guys, like forward Eeli Tolvanen, has created a try and improve environment fortified with a definitive level of expectation.
“It’s less about who we are playing, how we’re playing, what our record is,” Taylor said. “We come to work every day with the expectation that we are going to try and get better, whether its practice or a game.”
Until a curveball is thrown Milwaukee’s way, Taylor expects his team to be ready to get after it and the same level of performance moving forward.
5. CRUNCH TIME
The Admirals are all too familiar with the second half of the season crunch. During the 2018-19 season, Milwaukee was tied for fifth in the Central Division with the Texas Stars and Manitoba late in the season, but fought hard to earn a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
“The games get really ramped up,” Taylor said. “It gets much harder to find wins.”
As teams throughout the division begin to dig in and rummage for points, Milwaukee is going to remain dialed in on one game at a time and continue playing, “Admirals hockey.”