The Aeros are getting very close to clinching a playoff spot. They helped themselves a great deal by playing a very good first 40 minutes against the Barons. Then, they let up and got outshot 15-2 in the third period.
The Barons were desperate for a win tonight, and Saturday night the Aeros better be ready for a team that has something to build on with the way they controlled the game in the third period.
But Matt Hackett was a cool cucumber and kept any more pucks from slipping past. He was really good when he was bored, and he was great when he had to be sharp in the last 20 minutes.
What they have to have in order to make a great postseason run is good special teams and even better goaltending. Tonight, they got both of those with three power play goals and a strong PK late in the second and into the third.
We're going to see Hackett one more time this weekend. If he plays like he did Friday, the Aeros are going to be in good shape to take two of three against the Barons.
It was good to see the Aeros score in the first period, something else they have failed to do in about seven games. But man, they are really battling hard, even after they give up the first goal of the game. Remember when they used to score first all the time? What a distant memory. Good teams battle back when they are down, but good teams also score first more than half the time. I'd really like to see them turn that around before the end of the regular season.
As for the rest of the playoff picture, we can send a big middle finger up toward Grand Rapids for blowing that 3-0 lead against the Stars. Of all the teams in our division, that is the one that I think can get the Aeros in the first round. I really hope the Aeros TC of B and get home ice, especially if they have to play the Stars in the opening round. Remember that comment about giving up the first goal? Well, do that to Texas in the playoffs, especially with the way Bachman has been playing, and it is going to be real tough to win.
Milwaukee won to stay a point ahead of the Aeros, but Peoria and Chicago lost and are getting further and further back all the time.
Here is a look at the updated playoff picture. The way the North is going and how the West just keeps beating each other up, I don't know that the crossover is going to apply this year. We'll see. Click on the image for a better/closer look.