So, I just wrote my PHN piece which I'll link up in the media round-up tomorrow, but I'm done talking about goals and assists and quotes from players and coaches, because that's not the stuff of hockey that fires me up.
It's stuff like Khudobin playing through some manner of injury in the third period and Schaefer coming in cold in the biggest period of hockey all season.
It's the Beaudoin story. A rookie who's gone from "who?" to earning an AHL contract to now being second in playoff scoring in the AHL. Guess who's gonna turn some heads this summer as a free agent if the Wild doesn't lock him down? And he's done all this with only 10 PIM in the playoffs. You listening, Locke, Pouliot, and Kolanos? Kid keeps a cool head, works his ass off, and never gives up on a puck. Plus he grows a damn fine playoff beard.
It's wondering what's next for this team. Amazement that they can really just look at this shift by shift, game by game, knowing in the back of their minds that they're looking at a pretty darn steep climb to get where they want to go. That every morning skate could be their last together.
Plus, I wonder how much those 5 goals rattled Schneider. I asked KC about it tonight and he gave the PC answer of No, he's pro, etc etc. But I can't help but think, after not letting in more than 3 goals in ANY AHL playoff game, including last season, 5 goals sticks in his craw a bit.
Does this motivate him? Does this motivate his defense?
I think it does. Unlike Milwaukee, who were balanced more like the Aeros in terms of personnel and level of experience, Manitoba has LOTS of guys who have won or played for championships at various levels and know what it takes to push through and bounce back against adversity. These guys aren't going to choke like Milwaukee did in Game 7. The Aeros will have to choke them all on their own.
I was all prepared to write my big "First Look at Next Year's Aeros" post tomorrow. I hope you don't mind waiting for it a few more days. :)