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

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beat Drew MacIntyre ... and advance

See the title to this post?
In case you don't want to shift your eyes for a second, it says "Beat Drew MacIntyre ... and advance."

Even though Jeremy Smith was lights out during the West Division finals, the Aeros were probably pretty lucky that Mark Dekanich was out for the postseason. I can't imagine him playing any better than Smith did, but Dekanich is a better goalie overall. If the Admirals had just one or two more saves in Games 5 and 7, the Admirals would likely be playing the Hamilton Bulldogs tonight at Bradley Center.

But they didn't; the Aeros prevailed, and now they have a shot to play for the Calder Cup. And to do that, they are going to have to beat only the No. 1 goalie during the postseason - Drew MacIntyre (pictured here when he played for Chicago last year).

If the name sounds familiar, it should. The Aeros have faced him 22 times over the years and were the team that played MacIntyre in his first AHL game WAAAAAY back in 2004. He got called up to the Griffins that year, and the Aeros quickly introduced him with 49 shots en route to a 4-1 Aeros win at Van Andel Arena.

Over the years, the 27-year old goalie from Prince Edward Island has stayed in the Western Conference. After his stint with the Griffins/Red Wings, he jumped over to the Vancouver Canucks/Manitoba Moose. Then he went to the Milwaukee Admirals for a year before signing with the Atlanta Thrashers/Chicago Wolves. Then earlier this year, he was traded to Hamilton/Montreal and he and Nigel Dawes (another name Aeros fans should fear right now) to the West Division finals against the Aeros.

For those of you who participate in the "He shoots, he scores ...." chant, know this. In 22 games (21 starts) against the Aeros, MacIntyre has been amazingly consistent. He's saved more than 91 percent of the shots the Aeros have thrown his way, and his goals against average against the Aeros is a stout 2.24.

The Aeros have fared well, though, against MacIntyre, even though they don't seem to be able to blow him out. They have beaten him 13 times (against eight losses), but have never scored more than four goals against. Seven times, he's faced the Aeros in the postseason, all with Milwaukee two years ago in the second of three Kevin Constantine seasons. The Aeros won that series in seven games; MacIntyre let in four goals in Game 7, but anyone who saw/remembers that game will tell you that Milwaukee played a very poor *team* game that night. It was the complete opposite of Tuesday's Game 7 in the same building.

If the Aeros can keep the Nigel Dawes Aaaron Palushaj line from going absolutely nuts, they can probably beat the Bulldogs with three goals a game. History says getting three goals past MacIntyre will be more than enough to get to the win.

Prepare for another series where the opposing goaltender definitely has the edge over Aeros rookie Matt Hackett. MacIntyre was acquired when Curtis Sanford needed shoulder surgery and was lost for the season. MacIntyre's experience was needed to get the Bulldogs to where they are now. He, I feel, is the key to this series and the Aeros chances of playing for the Calder Cup trophy against the (team of destiny) Binghamton Senators.

1 comment:

ICEVET said...

Thank you for amplifying upon my earlier comment (re: MacIntyre) to your (5/10) Game 7 POST. I agree with your analysis and would, respectfully, add a few further thoughts regarding the DOGS:

. Very disciplined team, with sound defense (Calder PK: 91.8%) and a culture of shot-blocking which shields MacIntyre from many shots...also a short-handed goal against the Moose.

. Very well-coached by Randy Cunneyworth (ex-Senators Captain and veteran of over 800 NHL games) who puts a high value on forechecks, hits, and defense.

. Opportunistic with the man advantage (1/3 of their playoff goals) although average on accuracy (Calder PP: 17.6%).

. Aside from the triple OT Game 7 Win against the Moose, a spotty record in 1-goal games (losing 3 of 4 others).

. Lack the Aeros offensive firepower (both SOG and goals/g) but will counter this with strong defense, MacIntyre, and a team effort to exploit Hackett's weaknesses.

. Sparse crowds expected at the Copps Colesium games...in a city of nearly 800,000, where most are Maple Leafs (NHL) fans.

It should be a great series of hockey!

Go Aeros!!