Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Aeros blow it in the first period, lose 3-1

Woof. Playoffs are hard. It's been a few days since we're had a reminder of that and that definitely showed in the first period.

Two quick goals in the middle of the first and, BAM, you're in a hole that's tough to get out of against this Admirals team. (Goalie Jeremy Smith was great to spectacular the whole game. Unless Hackett steps it up to a new level, I may be eating my words that goaltending is a draw in this match-up.) It took into the third period (never mind that Ads goal 32 seconds into the period) for the Aeros to look like the Aeros.

But I was happy to see them at all and now that they've spent a while in the groove, here's to staying there for the rest of the series.

Clearly, though, the Aeros are going to have to shake the Ads' suffocating defense in order to get space they need to Do Work down low. But I'm not worried about them figuring this out.

John expressed in his last post some concern about the line-up changes Yeo had planned. Well, now we know what they were: Bulmer in for Kassian on the wing and Scandella in for Penner at defense.

The defensive swap seems like a fairly even exchange. But the Bulmer insertion bothered me at first. Really though, Milwaukee isn't a team you worry about going all goony on you, so maybe Kassian's intimidating presence was less valuable than giving Bulmer some experience. And maybe there's some pressure from Minnesota to play the young prospect if it makes sense, though that's just conjecture on my part.

It looks like the guys got through the game relatively in one piece. Spurgeon took a puck in the ear in the 2nd period, but it sounds like he's okay and it's just a cut.  He did miss the rest of the game though, so I'm not sure I'm 100% believing that.

Will have pics from Chris later, link to game stories later, and maybe someone will pipe in with some statistics or something. Can't wait for these games to return home! AHL Live is brutal!


Anonymous said...

Playing Bulmer and sitting Kassian? In playoffs? Are you kidding me? Since when do you sit a vet who has played at the NHL level for a kid who has never played at the AHL level? That's just CRAZY!!!!

John Royal said...

Yes I was worried about this. Not so much Scandella for Penner, but about the fourth line. And from what I've read tonight, that may stay this way. I don't care if we don't have to worry about the goon factor from Milwaukee. I just don't like tearing up a tested line so a young untested kid can get some experience. Not in the playoffs, not when there's no injury problems.

It's too much like Wade Phillips benching Doug Flutie in the playoffs, the QB who started for the Bills all year and led them to the playoffs, in favor of his backup Rob Johnson because, though Johnson barely played during the season, he was able to throw a deeper pass.

And if the team wins game two you can just forget everything that I just wrote.

Forecheck said...

Not only Hack, but they all need to step it up a bit. Maybe more than a bit. You can't write this one off as Milwaukee winning because they were at home.

Sunday isn't a must win, but it's about as close as you can get without being so.

What it is though - a must play better.

artandhockey said...

Bulmer, Bulmer... what about this scratching experienced players in favor a maybe hotstuff from the minors?
Without injuries it becomes - to say the least - a scary move...nailbiting sure, but definitely scary!!
Although, Kuemper did work out well, but there WERE injured goalies galore then!

Chris Jerina said...

Never saw any blood from Spurgeon's puck to the head, for what that's worth.

Falk, IMO, had an awful game, and its frustrating to watch someone with that size frame refusing to hit someone 12" shorter.

The officiating was horrid all around, people being tackled away from the puck, POS running Smith right in front of the ref (who shrugged his shoulders)

Finally, it looks like we're back to the POS Show on the PP. Everyone else seemed to prefer standing around when he had the puck, ugh.

ICEVET said...

Some were a BIT surprised at your pre-series assessment: "goaltending is a draw".

Jeremy Smith (22), very athletic, is clearly a better netminder than Matt Hackett (20), with history, regular season stats, the recent Texas series and last night's performance to prove the point.

Smith was the co-winner of the 2010 ECHL Playoff MVP Award, leading the Cincinnati Cyclones to the Kelly Cup. Starting his career with Michal Neuwirth (later: Hersey Bears and Washington Capitals) at the OHL Whalers, Smith has shown steady improvement during his professional career. Forget that Smith and Hackett were once teammates at the Whalers and are well-acquainted (another story).

Smith won both regular season games (GAA-1.44...SV-94.5%) against the Aeros, while Hackett won only 1 of 3 games (GAA-2.96...SV-87.9%) against the Admirals, "blowing a tire" in the April Fool's game, where the Aeros failed on their final opportunity for No. 1 WEST seed.

That said, Hackett, the sometimes-wunderkind, has been given an opportunity (with the Khudobin trade) few athletes his age will ever have. Aeros fans wish him the best of success and trust that he can RISE to the challenge in the days ahead.

Go Aeros!!!

aero-smith said...

John, your Phillips/Flutie analogy is bang on. My worry is that there's no better way to demoralize a team then doing this to a tried and true vet... all the players feel it when a team mate is treated like this --So much for "Christmas"

Anonymous said...

I doubt playing Bulmer was the main reason for the loss, but I wish Coach Yeo wouldn't mess with what was working beautifully in the first round. I hope one of you (Ms C, John or Andrew) will ask him the reason for scratching Kassian in favor of Bulmer.

Hope the guys will regain their confidence and skills for game 2.

Unsportsmanlike said...

I can justify putting Bulmer in, if I try really hard.

I predicted we'd lose this one. Everyone I talked to predicted we'd lose this one. The best I heard was choosing to have faith the Aeros would "surprise us by winning" -- which is still essentially predicting a loss as the likelier outcome.

I see this game as essentially sacrificial. Anything we need to know about the new kid, or the guy coming back from an injury, was better learned in a game where we stood little to lose by losing -- it doesn't put us deep in a hole for the series, it wasn't a nasty surprise, it's not very demoralizing. It didn't even subject the fans to a loss at home.

If, as Ms. C. suggests, there was pressure from Minnesota to play Bulmer, this was a great game for his debut. Even if there wasn't, it got the uncertainty out of the way in a game that Bulmer himself couldn't singlehandedly cost us. If we end up facing a Game Seven with an injured Kassian (let's not think about injuries to Sully, Gillies, or Earl!), we'll be glad we already know how that substitution plays, and we may well be happy for whatever mental effect the experience has on Bulmer.

That said, I agree with Forecheck that Sunday's game is far more important. I hope the experimental phase is behind us for the series.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Unsportsmanlike, I guess I can make some sense out of your take on it.

Forecheck said...

New strategy for Yeosy - how about trying to score the first goal this time?

Unsportsmanlike said...

I dunno, Forecheck, that sounds way too risky. The Aeros are 4-1 when they don't score first in the playoffs this year, but we have no statistical data on what happens when they do score first. Maybe we should save that kind of far-out experimental stuff for the next "try anything" sacrificial game. So far our key to success has been getting down one or two goals as early as possible. Who knows what effect scoring first might have?

(tl;dr: "What he said.")

Unsportsmanlike said...

Hey, Forecheck -- got any more game-winning "experimental" ideas?

(Word verification is "jocksin". is that a major or minor penalty?)