Tonight’s Game 6 is one of the few times in sports where it’s a must-win game for one side. It doesn’t happen often and us in the media, are often asking guys during a Game 4 or a Game 5 when one team is trailing in a series the following:
“Well, is it a must-win tonight?”
And most times, you’ll get some cliche – because really as much as it might be a must-win amongst the general population, it’s not really a must win on “paper”.
Tonight though, is diffferent. The Aeros must play it like a Game 7 while not focusing on the actual possibility of a Game 7 on Thursday night. They must be “focused and poised” as Aeros’ winger Casey Wellman told me yesterday.
The Aeros are confident in their ability to win this game and the series – and that’s not being disrespectful to their opponent, the Binghamton Senators, the most talented team they’ve faced to this postseason. It’s just that this is how this Aeros team has operated all season long, they respond best when pushed first.
Well, they’ve been pushed – as they now trail in a series for the first time since a 2-1 hole against the Milwaukee Admirals in the West Division Finals. Having lost two straight games, the Aeros are now one loss away from having their dreams crushed and their collective summer’s begin.
There are two big questions for me:
1. What is left in the tank?
2. Can the Aeros “crack the code” of Senators’ goaltender Robin Lehner more than twice tonight?
The Aeros will play their 24th playoff game tonight, meaning it’s game # 104 overall this year, the most they’ve ever played since joining the AHL 10 seasons ago. In addition, they’ve suffered two big injuries lately – Cody Almond and Jared Spurgeon. I believe this group can dig deep and play their best game of the series and after talking to a few players, I know they believe that as well, thus it’s just matter of going out and executing “their game” while of course, dealing with whatever adversity the face.
Now, denting Robin Lehner multiple times may be more difficult. However, Aeros’ head coach Mike Yeo really believes that if they can get 40+ shots again and generate the traffic it did in Game 5, then they should find success. Honestly, the Aeros played a pretty damn good Game 5 and controlled a lot of the play. But, they didn’t win and now they are facing elimination tonight. Getting to Lehner early in tonight’s game may prove huge…
Please send along your best in whatever fashion you choose (thoughts, prayers, etc.) to Senators’ assistant coach Steve Stirling who underwent emergency quadruple bypass surgery on Sunday afternoon / evening. He obviously isn’t with the team, and it’s certainly a sad story. The good news is, he’s resting comfortably and doing a lot better. Get well soon, Coach Stirling!
With that in mind, will the Senators be extra galvanized to win it all for Coach Stirling? Who knows…? I doubt they’d need any extra motivation in the league finals, but regardless it’s an emotional situation for the visitors tonight, for sure.
Game Day Audio is up! Go check it out.
If you’re coming to the game tonight, be loud and supportive for 3+ hours…make it hard for the Senators to hear themselves think! Let’s show them why Houston has the best fans in the AHL!
That’s all for now…enjoy Game 6 and let’s hope for a shot at the title on Thursday night!
– Aero Joe