Raise your hand if you watched the first 58 minutes of tonight's game and thought, "Ugh. No way we get outta here with a win."
My hand is up. It was a tough game to watch most of the way. Kludgey first goal from Anton, who woke up and was very good the rest of the way. Texas' goalie, Beskorowany, was making his AHL debut and looked nervous at times, but at 6'5" is simply so big, it was just difficult to score on him.
Credit to Andrew, he called the game winner by Jarod Palmer with a minute and a half to spare. Palmer found a little open space just outside the mass of bodies in front of the crease, Spurgeon got it on his stick and boom. Bob's your uncle. That sucker was rattling the water bottle.
With John out of town, you're not getting a big mess of quotes, but I'll give you the gist of Yeo's post-game chat with us. He was really pleased with how the team responded to adversity. Tough travel schedule with 3 games in 48 hours is a grind of the highest order.
You don't want to make excuses about that kind of thing, but they're humans and it does have an effect. After a long stretch of Texas hammering away in the Aeros, maybe you noticed Khudobin just stay on one knee for as long as the play was safely away from him.
I was worried he was hurt at first and then I put on my goalie brain and realized, the dude is bound to have some seriously tired legs and even without tired legs, that was a tough stretch. Okay kid, catch your breath.
Yeo gave Anton a lot of credit tonight for standing on his head when the team wasn't up to the task. And that favor was paid back, in particular a great save by Spurgeon as the puck danced on the goal line behind Khudobin.
We talked to Palmer, too, who said the team is really playing for each other and helping each other out and everyone is taking their turns pulling the load. Said the attitude in the room is really positive and chemistry continues to build.
We're pretending I didn't ask him how surprised he is to be at the top of the scoring chart for the Aeros. But it suffices to say he's "very surprised" to be there but gave all the credit to his linemates who create great chances for him. I'm guessing most every guy in the top 10 scorers on the team would say the same and it wouldn't be the usual hockey player cliche speak. It really does seem to be a lot of teamwork that makes the goals happen.
And all superstitiousness aside, the pressure at the top isn't that heavy because the top scorers all only have a point or two between them. This team scores by committee and whether it's DiSalvatore or Noreau or Palmer or whoever at the top, it's not particularly relevant in the grand scheme of things. It will likely change in a game or two anyway.
But for a rookie from whom we didn't really know what to expect, what a nice surprise!
Speaking of nice surprises, Yeo said Kassian has been one for him. He said he didn't know much about him when the season started but he had nothing but good things to say tonight. He added that the fight fired the boys up as much as Anton's great play did, and that guys all feel a little bigger when he's in the line-up (which he always is, and that's not something most enforcers can say... I think he's a lot more than that to this team now).
I kinda feel bad that Warren Peters didn't get a star tonight, so I'm throwing him the honorary 4th star. He's really become the hub around which a lot of good things happen on the ice and probably doesn't get enough outright credit for it. But it's not going unnoticed.
There's probably more to say, but dude, I'm dog tired. :)