By now you've heard the big news for today. And as Luke Strand told me, it's that Matt Climie is starting in goal tonight. I spoke to Kevin Constantine during the skate, and the decision had not yet been made -- he and the staff wanted to wait until after Nolan Schaefer and Climie skated to make a decision.
As for Anton Khudobin, Constantine said that he's got a lower body injury. He got the injury during the third period on Wednesday night. During a time out of the third, Khudobin informed the trainers that he was hurt, then he skated back out to the net. The trainers checked him out at the end of the third period, and told Constantine that he could not play. "So we had no choice but to play Schaefer," Constantine said.
I don't really have much else for you. There was some off-the-record talk about players' beards. I did overhear Constantine talking to Manitoba's radio guy for an interview to be played during the game, and Constantine basically said he's not sure of what to expect from Climie.
The obvious scratches for tonight are Dane Crowley, Barry Brust, and Anton Khudobin. Paul Albers, Jesse Schultz, Marco Scandella, Jason Ryznar, and Carson McMillan all skated with the rest of the guys in the skate. Krys Kolanos did not skate, but I've rarely seen him out on the ice at the morning skate, so that doesn't mean anything.
A quick inside the numbers give us some basics. Only two teams in AHL history have ever come from 0-3 to win a series: Rochester in 1960 and Adirondack in 1989. But the Aeros are 3-0 this post-season when facing elimination. All-time, the Aeros are 7-5 in Calder Cup play when facing elimination. And in Game Fives, Houston is 7-10 all-time and 4-5 in Calder Cup action.
Corey Locke leagues the AHL is Calder Cup scoring with 20 points (11-9). Matt Beaudoin is second with 16 points (7-9=16).
The Moose/Cory Schneider have allowed just eight third period goals in 14 games, but the Aeros are responsible for five of the eight. The Aeros have 23 third period goals in the playoffs, compared to just 24 goals combined in all of the first, second, and overtime periods. The Aeros are outscoring their opponents 23-14 in the third period.
The big key again will be the first goal. The Aeros are 8-2 when scoring first, and they are 6-0 when leading after the first.
So what happens tonight? That's a damn good question. I think if the Aeros can get the first goal and if they can give Matt Climie some time to settle in after that first goal, then they might be okay, and they might be able to get back to Winnipeg for a Game Six. But frankly, the odds aren't in the favor of the Aeros. But if there's one thing we've learned this season, it's to never count out the Aeros (still, you have to wonder about just how many goalie injuries this team can take).
My bold prediction: the first team to score wins.