Just a quick update here before Game One against the Admirals…
Boy, oh boy, is the first 10 minutes and really, the first period going to be crucial tonight. The Aeros haven’t played in 9 days and they will be rusty – or at least that’s my assumption. Thus, they need to “weather the storm” and find a way to come out even or better on the scoreboard as they head into the first intermission.
At today’s morning skate both teams stressed a “good start” (no surprise there), but with both these teams priding themselves on stingy defensive play and with both admitting that they each employ similar tactics, you have to think that the first goal in each game will be HUGE. The Admirals rarely lose when scoring first and so it behooves the Aeros to “get to their game” quickly.
The Admirals were the only West Division team that the Aeros didn’t beat in regulation this season, that tells me something, but honestly I’m not sure what. Is it a match-up problem? Or are these teams totally different now than they were during their six regular season meetings?
Here are my keys for Game One:
1. Score First – see above
2. Score on the PP – the Admirals took some undisciplined penalties (from what I heard) against the Stars in their first round series and the Aeros will need to capitalize on that if it continues to occur.
3. Matt Hackett’s composure – the Admirals rattled him in the final regular season meeting between the two sides, and that can’t happen in April & May. Plus, Hackett is facing his former junior teammate in Jeremy Smith, so he’ll have to keep his emotions in check.
Here’s my colleague Aaron Sims’ take on a few questions I posed to him prior to tonight’s Game One:
Q:Who was the Admirals’ difference-maker in Round 1?
A: No doubt Jeremy Smith. The once backup goalie has carried the load in absence of all-star Mark Dekanich. He kicks out a few rebounds, but is incredibly athletic.
Q: What’s the team’s biggest strength entering this series?
A: Coach Lane Lambert and assistant Ian Herbers have game-planned so well that the roster, which is full of newer faces, knocked off Texas even though Stars were 5-1 against the Admirals in the regular season.
Q: Any question marks for the Admirals entering this series?
A: Penalty kill needs to be better. Just 78.1% in playoffs. 7 of Texas’ 13 goals were scored on PP.
Q: What’s the most important thing for the Admirals to have success in the West Division Finals?
A: Special Teams. Also, the team jumbled lines in game 4 and spread the scoring around. It was just the Thang-Bourque-Mueller line that scored the first few games. It’s more balanced now. Lane Lambert likes to play matchups. It’ll be interesting to see if Coach Yeo will match Warren Peters’ line with Chris Mueller’s line.
That’s all for now…don’t forget to check out Game Day Audio on aeros.com.
– Aero Joe