By Michael Russo
After keeping one eye on the Caps-Pens Game 7, for the first time in the series, the game didn’t exactly live up to the hype. Boy, the Pens just kicked butt, eh? Can you say butt on a blog?
The reason why I only kept half an eye really on the NHL game is I attended the Houston Aeros’ Game 7, 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals. The Aeros became only the third club in AHL history — and second Aeros’ team — to win two Game 7′s on the road in the same postseason (Peoria last round).
Kevin Constantine — or KC, as I’ve learned he’s called — won three Game 7′s as an NHL head coach — all three on the road, meaning that’s 5-0 in the NHL and AHL. And he says it’s even better because he did the same thing a few times in junior.
“I have no idea why, either. I wish I did,” Constantine laughed.
By the way, and I’m sure it’s been written by Ms. Conduct & Gang on their great Aeros’ blog, but the playoff beards are out and Constantine’s got the chops going for sideburns. Great story on that I’ll probably throw into the paper tomorrow.
They’re the triangle sideburns all the way down his cheek. Very John Fogertyish. I’ll think of a better description and blog it during my drive home (I’ll pull over first, I promise). And if you don’t know what Constantine looks like, he’s got red hair, so it’s a great look. I nearly almost took a picture of Constantine just for the blog with my camera phone while I was interviewing him, but to be quite honest, Constantine scares me.
Oops, thought of one. It kinda looks like this — Hans Klopek from the Tom Hanks’ movie, the Burbs (as a kid, I toured the Universal lot when they were filming that movie) — only much more grown in and nothing on his chin.
After losing 7-0 in Game 6, the Aeros shockingly bounced back. Corey Locke and Krys Kolanos scored 49 ticks apart in the first, Milwaukee cut it to 2-1 and then there were several tense moments until the third as the unorthodox Anton Khudobin made some great saves and offered some heart attacks. He’s raw folks, very raw.
Clayton Stoner, who played a great game, scored a huge power-play goal, then former Admiral Tony “Circus” Hrkac set up former Admiral Bryan Lundbohm for the backbreaker on a beauty of a 2-on-1. Locke popped one in an empty net.
Justin Falk, I thought, was the best defenseman. Outstanding game, especially in the third. Robbie Earl can skate like one of those NHL ’95 games I used to play where you can press a couple buttons and the player goes into turbo boost speed. He’s one of the best skaters I’ve ever seen. Effortless, like the Niedermayers, but with more speed, believe it or not. Danny Irmen played a solid game as well. A couple other players didn’t play so well, but I won’t mention them and one particular because I’ll keep it positive for a change (give it a guess though).
I had other things I wrote down, and of course, I left the paper in my car (I didn’t blog last night because there was no wireless in the Bradley Center). I also watched the game from owner Craig Leipold’s suite along with Tom Lynn, Chris Snow and pro scout Todd Woodcroft — on condition the words “GM” and “search” never came out of my mouth
I appreciate the invite by Leipold. He’s a lot less stressed during non-Wild games, but still stressed enough. So it was interesting to get that up-close perspective. Next year I plan on watching every game from the owners’ suite at the X
Leipold had the Aeros over to his home earlier in the series, and he said it was a blast. So Leipold’s current farm team knocked off his old farm team — and actually the Wild eliminated Nashville twice if you consider the last home game of the NHL season. And continuing the theme I mentioned before the series, Tom Lynn beat Paul Fenton in the battle of the Wild GM candidates. Just a joke.
Funny moment during the game. They flashed the Marlins-Brewers score. I had no clue the Marlins were in town, and one of my best friends happens to be one of their announcers. I phoned (Canadian verb) him, happened to catch him between innings and we got to hang after the game for the first time since last hockey season when the Wild was in S. Fla. (he’s a Panthers’ announcer, too).
So that was cool and random. I know I had other things to mention, but I’m on little sleep and it’s on that sheet of paper that’s conveniently in the car. I’ll hop back on later.
So, after the game, the Aeros took a bus to Chicago to spend the night. They fly to Winnipeg today and open the conference finals against the Manitoba Moose on Friday-Saturday.
I have to hit the road for five-plus hours. It was a cool trip over to Milwaukee to see the Wild’s farm team in person for the first time.