I spoke with Casey Wellman and Jon DiSalvatore this morning and they both used the word “details” about 700 times each. So that’s the word of the day as far as I’m concerned heading into tonight’s pivotal Game 4 against the Admirals.
Following their 5-3 setback on Tuesday night in Game 3, the Aeros talked about giving the Admirals a ton of scoring chances because of their sloppy, and quite frankly, uncharacteristic neutral zone play. The Aeros felt like they turned over too many pucks and gave a good counter-attacking team exactly what they wanted: a chance to drive the net with speed and put pucks there. There were way too many uncontested, second opportunities for the visiting Admirals on Tuesday night, thus the Aeros must get stronger in front of their net and do a better job of clearing out rebounds.
The Aeros were torched for five even-strength goals on Tuesday after allowing only seven in their first six playoff games. That stat alone had to be extremely disappointing for the home side, especially after they hardly gave the Admirals a sniff in the final 35 or so minutes in their Game 2 victory. So, look for the Aeros to focus on the little things tonight, the “details” as I was told, which should help them get back on track this evening.
I know this game isn’t do-or-die in the “standings” and it technically isn’t a must-win, but boy oh boy, the Aeros better win tonight. I just don’t like their chances having to win three in a row in this series (two of which would be in Milwaukee) given that the Admirals lost three in a row (in regulation) just twice through their first 89 games entering tonight.
So, what should a “must-win” game look like for the Aeros in my humble opinion?
- Desperation and Focus – the Aeros need the same approach every shift regardless of the outcome and they can’t relax for one second in this game. They must bring passion and emotion and physical play for as long as it takes to get a win tonight
- Offensive Zone Time – play a 70/30 game as Aeros’ head coach Mike Yeo often says – get the puck deep in the Admirals’ zone and stay there!
- Discipline – less than four minor penalties tonight
- Special Teams Execution – must be a +1 or better with the special teams
- Adjustments – be ready for anything the Admirals try tonight that they haven’t done yet, and be ready to make small, in-game adjustments based on how the game / score is unfolding
- “The Stars” – the Aeros top players must be exactly that tonight…DiSalvatore, O’Sullivan, etc. must find the score sheet and Matt Hackett has to make the “big save” – especially early in tonight’s game
Here’s some numbers-karma for the Aeros:
- The Aeros have only won two series when trailing a best-of-seven, 2-1…both came in 2003, their Calder Cup championship season. In both instances, they won Game 4 and both wins were by the score of 3-2.
- In the opening round of the 2011 Calder Cup playoffs, all four teams that won Game 3 to break a 1-1 series tie eventually went on to lose the series
Enjoy tonight’s game!
– Aero Joe