The Buffalo Sabres just announced Lindy Ruff signed a multi-year contract, but the reality is that's been sitting in his desk drawer for weeks. The big coach free agent was never really a free agent. He adores owner Terry Pegula, and I've been told for awhile he just didn't want any announcements to create distractions as the Sabres tries to First) Get into the playoffs; Then) Compete in the playoffs.
So there goes that Wild fantasy. Onward.
The Houston Aeros open their second-round series against the Milwaukee Admirals, who won the West, tonight in Milwaukee. Here's a preview from the Aeros. Also, below that, are some cool first-round tidbits from the NHL.
HOUSTON AEROS (2nd seed, West Division)
at MILWAUKEE ADMIRALS (1st seed, West Division)
BRADLEY CENTER (7:00 p.m. CST)
The Houston Aeros and Milwaukee Admirals battle in a best-of-seven series in the second round of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs. The series is a 2-3-2 format. Houston swept its opening round series versus the Peoria Rivermen by a 4-0 count while the Admirals edged the Texas Stars in seven games.
AEROS REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS
The Aeros finished the regular season with a 46-28-1-5 (98 pts.) record for the No. 2 spot in the West Division. The Aeros had the most wins in both the division and the Western Conference. Only two other teams finished with more wins (WBS – 58, Portland -47). Milwaukee won the West Division title for the fourth time in eight years and topped 100 points for the fifth time since 2003-04. They finished with a 44-22-6-8 record.
Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild)
Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators)
SECOND ROUND PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
West Division Final – Series “L” (best-of-7)
W1-Milwaukee Admirals vs. W2-Houston Aeros
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 29 – Houston at Milwaukee, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., May 1 – Houston at Milwaukee, 5:00
Game 3 – Tue., May 3 – Milwaukee at Houston, 7:05
Game 4 – Thu., May 5 – Milwaukee at Houston, 7:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 6 – Milwaukee at Houston, 7:35
*Game 6 – Sun., May 8 – Houston at Milwaukee, 5:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 10 – Houston at Milwaukee, 7:00
REGULAR SEASON SERIES NOTES
--- The Aeros went 2-3-0-1 (2-1-0-0 at home, 0-2-0-1 on the road).
--- HOU went 5/30 on the PP while MIL went 7/26.
--- MIL won three games in regulation while wins for HOU came in extra time (one OT, one SO)
--- MIL scored five goals against the Aeros twice while HOU scored four goals once.
--- Five of the six games were decided by one goal, with the lone exception being a 5-2 win by MIL on April 1.
--- Patrick O’Sullivan led the Aeros (5-2-7) in scoring while Chris Mueller (3-4-7) led the Admirals.
--- MIL scored the first goal in four of the six games. HOU was 1-1-0-0 when scoring first.
--- The Aeros allowed the first goal in each of the first four games in the opening round of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs (versus PEO).
--- HOU outscored PEO 6-2 in the second period and 4-0 in the third.
--- Two of the four games in the first round were decided by one goal.
--- In AHL playoff action, Houston is 10-6 in Game 1 with a 3-5 record on the road.
--- Patrick O’Sullivan notched a point in each of the four games versus PEO (2-2-4).
--- Colton Gillies scored twice in Game 3 and became the 29th Aeros player to record two goals in a playoff game. No Aero has ever scored a hat trick in postseason play.
LAST GAME QUICK RECAP
Patrick O’Sullivan scored the game-winning goal and Matt Hackett made 23 saves in net as the Houston Aeros took a 2-1 victory in Game 4 and swept their best-of-seven series over the Peoria Rivermen in the American Hockey League’s West Division Semifinals at Carver Arena. O’Sullivan’s breakaway goal came just 2:42 after Houston’s Drew Bagnall knotted the game at 1-1 at the 8:22 mark of the middle period.
Follow the Aeros on News Talk 1070 KNTH and online at AEROS.COM with Joe O’Donnell providing the play-by-play call. Watch every game at www.ahllive.com.
--- Matt Hackett has a 4-0 playoff record with a 1.68 GAA and .932 SV%.
--- Hackett won a personal season-high four in a row from March 13-20.
--- Hackett went 1-1-1 against the Admirals (2-1 SOL, 3-2 OTW, 5-1 L
--- Josh Tordjman was 4-1-0 in six overall appearances during the regular season.
REGULAR SEASON OVERALL LEADERS
Jon DiSalvatore led Houston in scoring with 61 points (28-33-61) in 80 games. Matt Hackett posted team-bests in wins (23), goals against average (2.37) and save percentage (.916).
AEROS SPECIAL TEAMS
POWER PLAY --- Went 3/24 in the opening round… Ranked 6th (20.2%) in the regular season… Jon DiSalvatore led the team with 14 PPG… Finished the season with goals in six-straight to set a season-high streak (18/45)…Also had goals in six-straight from Feb. 22-Mar. 4… Had multiple PPG in 16 games and was 12-2-0-2 in those games.
PENALTY KILL --- PEO went 3/12 on the PP in the first round… Ranked 22nd (81.0%) in the regular season… Carson McMillan led the team with three SHG… Opponents were 16/46 on the PP in the final eight games of the season… Allowed at least a goal in a season-high seven straight (Mar. 22 – Apr. 2)… Held opponents to one or no PPG in 15 straight games until TOR went 2-for-5 on Jan. 23.
WILD COMEBACKS, OVERTIMES, GAME 7 DRAMA HIGHLIGHT
EXCITING AND UNPREDICTABLE OPENING ROUND
NEW YORK (April 28, 2011) -- Fifteen days, 14 overtimes and several
dramatic comebacks and nail-biting finishes later, the 16 teams that began
the post-season quest for the Stanley Cup have been narrowed to eight. Here
are some highlights from an exciting and unpredictable Conference
EXCITING AND UNPREDICTABLE
* The four Game 7s were the most in the first round of the Stanley Cup
Playoffs since 1995.
* Each of the final nine days of the first round featured an overtime game,
an unprecedented streak. There were 12 OTs in that span.
* The 14 total overtimes were the most since the record 15 in 2001.
* The 49 total games matched the most ever in the first round.
* There were two Game 7 overtimes, tying the pair in 1997 as the most ever
in the first round.
* Seven of the eight series had a game decided in overtime.
* Three of the eight series ended with an overtime goal.
* Road teams posted a winning record (26-23), one victory short of the most
ever in the first round.
* Following a 2010 first round in which each of the top three seeds in the
Eastern Conference were toppled, the top three seeds in both the East and
West survived the first round for the first time since 1996.
HISTORY WAS MADE
* The Boston Bruins came back from an 0-2 series deficit to win a
best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history. The Bruins
also became the first team in playoff history to win a seven-game series
without tallying a power-play goal (0/21).
* The Chicago Blackhawks forced a Game 7 after trailing the series 0-3 for
the first time in franchise history.
* The Detroit Red Wings reached the final eight for the 13th time in the
past 16 seasons.
* The Nashville Predators won the first playoff series in franchise
* The Philadelphia Flyers became the first team since 1988 to win a playoff
series with three starting goaltenders.
* The San Jose Sharks became the fourth team in NHL history to win a
playoff game they trailed by four goals (Apr. 19 at Los Angeles).
* The Tampa Bay Lightning came back from a 1-3 series deficit to win a
best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history.
* The Vancouver Canucks became the fourth team in NHL history and the first
since 1975 to win a playoff series after winning the first three games and
losing the next three.
* The Washington Capitals became the first team in nine years to win a
playoff game after trailing by three goals in the third period (Apr. 20 at
Not Too Small
The top three scorers in the first round were Michael Cammalleri of the
Montreal Canadiens (3-7--10 in seven games), Martin St. Louis of the Tampa
Bay Lightning (1-8--9 in seven games) and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia
Flyers (4-4--8 in seven games). The average height and weight of this trio
is 5-9, 177 lbs.
Michael Cammalleri (Montreal): 5-9, 182
Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay): 5-8, 176
Claude Giroux (Philadelphia): 5-11, 172
Not Too Old
41-year-old Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson backstopped the Lightning
to their series win over Pittsburgh by posting a 1.77 goals-against average
and .945 save percentage.
43-year-old Boston right wing Mark Recchi tallied four points, including a
crucial goal in Game 7, and a +4 rating in the Bruins' seven-game series
win over Montreal.
Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who is celebrating his 41st birthday
today, tallied a pair of assists and a +3 rating in the Red Wings'
four-game sweep over Phoenix. Lidstrom has appeared in 251 career Stanley
Cup Playoff games, second on the all-time list behind Chris Chelios (266).
Anaheim right wing Teemu Selanne, 40, shared the League goal-scoring lead
in the first round, tallying six in the Ducks' six-game series loss to
Not Too Inexperienced
Boston right wing Nathan Horton entered the Bruins' showdown against
Montreal with 502 career regular-season appearances, the most among all
players making their playoff debut. Horton became only the third player in
the past decade to score two overtime goals in the same series, winning
Games 5 and 7.
Rookie Washington goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who excelled in a pair of
deep playoff runs in the American Hockey League but had no previous NHL
playoff experience, led all goaltenders in goals-against average (1.38) and
ranked second in save percentage (.946) as the Capitals eliminated the New
York Rangers in five games.
Chicago rookie goaltender Corey Crawford, whose previous Stanley Cup
Playoff experience was in a brief mop-up role two years ago, sparkled for
the Blackhawks in their seven-game series loss to Vancouver, posting a 2.21
goals-against average and .927 save percentage.
Buffalo Sabres rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani, a late-season call-up
from the AHL, entered the playoffs with just 15 career NHL regular-season
appearances but led all defensemen in scoring during the first round with
seven points (one goal, six assists).