With Mike Brodeur (31 saves) leading the way, the Aeros staved off elimination last night, earning a 1-0 victory in Game 3 to prolong this series until at least Tuesday night.
I meant to blog prior to Game 3, but it slipped my mind (even though I wrote myself a note to share some thoughts prior to the crucial match-up). One of the things I was going to mention (I swear) was that the only chance the Aeros had at winning Game 3 and ultimately winning this series was if Mike Brodeur resembled soon-to-be Hall Of Famer, Martin Brodeur (no relation). Well, Mike wasn’t quite the 1995 version of Martin, but he was freaking spectacular, even if it took a few of his best friends (the goal posts) to preserve his first Calder Cup Playoff win and shutout.
The bottom line is this – the Aeros need him and he needs the Aeros. After playing in Binghamton for much of last season, Brodeur injured himself and eventually had hip labrum surgery in May, which helped pave the way for some 19-year-old named Robin Lehner to hoist the Calder Cup and playoff MVP award. After months of rehab, the Wild contacted Brodeur, who Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr knew a lot about given his ties to the Senators organization. The Aeros brought Brodeur in for a day or two, essentially sent him to Las Vegas of the ECHL for some conditioning and game action, and then brought him back up as their goaltending carousel continued (Joe Fallon, Matt Keetley, Scott Grenham). With Brodeur on the mend and unemployed, the Aeros / Wild opportunity was the break he was looking for. Now, after a few weeks of practicing with the team, he’s got his chance. Game 4 will be another opportunity to show that last night wasn’t a fluke and that he’s ready for full-time AHL or even NHL action now.
But I digress…back to Game 3 for a moment…
The Aeros penalty kill had ice water in its collective veins last night, going 7-for-7, including a two-minute, five-on-three man disadvantage. The sacrifice was there last night, not only on the PK, but in all situations. Last night’s game finally had a playoff feel after the Barons largely dominated Games 1 & 2 from Toyota Center. Sure the Aeros got some breaks, but they also had a few scoring chances narrowly miss themselves, or they might have extended their lead. At the end of the day, it all evened out and now the team has a chance to even the series on Tuesday.
As for Game 4, it will not get any easier. If you thought the Barons made a proverbial “push” late in Game 3, just imagine how hard they’ll come if pressed into desperation mode late in Tuesday’s affair. The Aeros are going to have to find a way to score more goals – honestly, if they even get two past Yann Danis, it would be huge.
Today was a day off (from skating) for everyone except the handful of healthy scratches from last night’s win. The entire team stretched and got the blood flowing, before sitting in for a few meetings, and then bolting to enjoy the beautiful weather in OK City. Hopefully everyone gets the rest they need and can refocus for Game 4…
Here’s what I’m looking for tomorrow night:
- The Power Play: At 0-for-9 in the series, it’s time the Aeros to pot one on the PP. They need more shots from the point and someone driving the net. Plain and simple.
- “Kamps & Pross”: I thought the D pairing of Nate Prosser and Steven Kampfer were great last night. For that matter, all the D appeared to keep it more simple – getting pucks out to center and “living to fight another day”. The club certainly needs another strong performance from their top pairing on Tuesday night.
- Another Line Please: The Cody Almond, Brett Bulmer, Nick Palmeri line has been the team’s best line through the first 3 games. And it’s not even close, which is a problem. The Aeros need a contribution or two on the score sheet from another line in Game 4.
Don’t forget about the watch party at The Maple Leaf Pub tomorrow night…enjoy Game 4!
– Aero Joe