Well, if you remember back to my blog yesterday, I said the Aeros were playing great hockey and had all the momentum in the series. However I pointed out then, that momentum can be fleeting in the postseason and that things could turn around in a hurry, which it did with last night’s 3-0 shutout loss, the first time the Aeros have been held without a goal since late March.
So now it’s the Senators with the momentum, or at least it would appear that way. That means it’s up to the Aeros to make the necessary adjustments and come out with a tremendous effort. Can they do it? Do they have enough left in the tank to respond with a desperate performance as they try to put themselves just one win away from a championship?
We’ll find out in just a few hours…
The Senators were clearly the better team last night – but there were some things I liked despite the loss:
- Matt Hackett…he was solid early and gave the Aeros a chance to win
- The penalty kill…only allowed a five-on-three goal, and they came up with some big kills to keep the game manageable
Now for some areas that must improve quickly:
- The power play…it’s been poor the last handful of playoff games – I’d like to see more of a shooters’ mentality. Get the puck to Max Noreau / Jared Spurgeon and let it fly!
- The “skill” guys…Patrick O’Sullivan and Casey Wellman have two of the best offensive skill sets on the Aeros’ roster – they must find a way to carry this team to a victory before this series is over.
I spoke with Aeros’ captain Jon DiSalvatore this morning and needless to say, he wasn’t happy about the team’s effort last night. However he thinks they can “flip the switch” (my term, not his) and get back to a game that’s more acceptable to their standard. He said that the team has trained and worked so hard to reach this point and part of the reason that you go through all the hard work is so that when you get to this point your team structure and identity just take over during the intense environment of a playoff game…he said “you almost turn your brain off” and that allows you to just go out and perform.
We’ve been over this before – the Aeros are a resilient group – they’ve been challenged in the past and they’ve rarely not responded. Tonight, however, may be their biggest test yet. The series is tied 2-2…this isn’t like playing the Bulldogs, where after a “flat” performance, they still had a series lead. It’s down to a best-of-three with the freakin’ Calder Cup at stake!
The Aeros are saying that if offered this opportunity prior to the start of the season, or even just a few weeks ago, they would have graciously accepted this scenario. Well, it’s here now and the remaining game(s) after tonight are at home, which should help. But the team’s focus should be on tonight and only tonight and I think that will be their approach. Take it one game at a time and play each game with the utmost desperation and urgency. Do that, and they’ve got a great chance to hoist the Calder Cup!
Game Day Audio is up.
– Aero Joe