Afternoon from beautiful Toronto, where I'm about to motor to the airport for a flight. I've got a wedding in Upstate New York this weekend, a couple hours from Binghamton.
Trust me, I wish I could be two places at once so I could catch the Houston Aeros play back-to-back games tonight and Saturday in Games 4 and 5 of the Calder Cup Finals. The Aeros hold a 2-1 series advantage.
But I won't be able to pull it off.
Great three days here in Toronto gathering stuff for our NHL Draft coverage. The NHL was beyond accomodating setting up interviews with athletes and giving access to folks. And of course, the NHL's brass and agents are always accomodating.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, potentially the No. 1 pick in the June 24-25 Draft in St. Paul,. addressing the media after today's fitness testing.
I sat down with GM Chuck Fletcher for an interview on tons of stuff a few nights ago. The pressing stuff appeared in today's newspaper with a link here. Talks about upcoming contract talks with Brent Burns, other issues on the table, like the speculation throughout the NHL that Cam Barker is buyout bait, and the coaching search.
However, I've got one name to add to the coaching candidate list. It's taken a few days, but I finally feel I've ironed it down well enough to report.
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher has interviewed longtime, well-respected Nashville Predators assistant Peter Horachek, according to multiple sources. Horachek is also very much a candidate for the Dallas Stars. You can read about him at this link
So, the names I've confirmed interviews for as of now are former Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish, whom I believe is a leading contender still (also Ottawa), former Pittsburgh and Montreal coach Michel Therrien, former Dallas, Philly and Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock, Montreal Canadiens assistant Kirk Muller (candidate in Dallas and Ottawa who knows he may have to first become a head coach in the AHL) and Horachek.
As far as I know, Aeros coach Mike Yeo hasn't had his official interview yet, but as I wrote the other day, Fletcher's certainly spent enough time with him both during this Calder Cup playoff run and during Yeo's longtime stint as the Penguins' top assistant.
Couple other things:
I've gotten emails and tweets asking injury updates on Tyler Cuma and Brett Bulmer. From what I'm told, Cuma is progressing very well. He's working out with a personal trainer here in Toronto, came to Hamilton to watch "the boys" play in the Western Conference finals and may even attend games here in this championship round.
Bulmer has a minor knee injury...Bone, not ligament, I'm told, and if the playoffs continued rather than concluded in a matter of days, he'd be a couple weeks away.
That's it from me. Here's the Aeros' preview from the Aeros' PR, and remember, games can be listened to on aeros.com, watched on ahllive.com and down at Tom Reid's Pub:
HOUSTON AEROS (Western Conference Champions)
vs. BINGHAMTON SENATORS (Eastern Conference Champions)
BEST-OF-7 --- BROOME COUNTY ARENA (6:05 p.m. CST)
(HOU leads 2-1)
The Houston Aeros and Binghamton Senators square off in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals at Broome County Arena. The series is a best-of-seven with a 2-3-2 format. The Aeros have a 2-1 series lead after winning Games 1 and 3.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
--- Swept the Peoria Rivermen 4-0 in the first round.
--- Defeated Milwaukee in seven games in the second round.
--- Defeated Hamilton 4-3 in the Western Conference Finals
--- Defeated Manchester 4-3 in the first round.
--- Defeated Portland 4-2 in the second round.
--- Swept Charlotte 4-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
DID YOU KNOW?
--- The Aeros are the first AHL club ever to win a playoff series after relinquishing a 3-0 series lead (Conference Finals vs. HAM)
--- With wins over Milwaukee and Hamilton in the last two rounds, Houston improved to 6-0 all-time in AHL Game 7’s.
--- Houston and Binghamton both reached the 2011 Calder Cup Finals after missing the postseason entirely in 2010.
--- Binghamton is the eighth consecutive East Division team to represent the Eastern Conference in the Calder Cup Finals.
--- Houston’s hockey history actually pre-dates that of Binghamton. The Houston Skippers began play at the Sam Houston Coliseum in 1946, changed their name to the Huskies, and were coached by Toe Blake during the 1947-48 season. The team won the USHL crown that season. Binghamton’s first pro team was known as the Broome Dusters in the NAHL in 1973.
ALL-TIME AEROS PLAYOFF NOTABLES
--- The Aeros are 7-3 all-time in AHL Playoff series when they split the first two games.
--- In 2003, the Aeros split the first two games of each best-of-seven series on their way to the Calder Cup.
--- Houston is 10-6 all-time in AHL Game 4’s with a 5-2 record on the road.
--- The Aeros are 7-0 all-time in AHL best-of-seven series in which they have a 2-1 lead and are 5-2 in Game 4.
2011 AEROS PLAYOFF NOTABLES
--- Houston is 9-3 in games decided by one goal. All three losses have been in overtime.
--- When registering 40 or more shots, the Aeros are 4-1.
--- The Aeros are 7-2 when scoring first with a 3-0 road record.
--- Houston is 4-0 when leading after one period and 7-0 when leading after two periods.
--- Houston has outshot their opponents in 16 of 21 playoff games. They are 10-6 when doing so.
--- Opponents have scored first 12 times, but the Aeros have won seven of those games.
--- Houston’s 61 shots in Game 6 vs. HAM tied a team record for the second-most shots in one playoff game and were the most since Houston peppered Hamilton’s Ty Conklin with 84 shots in Game 2 of the 2003 Calder Cup Finals.
AEROS PLAYER NOTABLES
--- Jed Ortmeyer became the fifth Aeros player to score two goals in a game this playoff campaign when he notched a pair in Game 1 vs. BNG.
--- Aeros players have a combined 28 multi-point games in the playoffs, led by Patrick O’Sullivan (4), Jed Ortmeyer and Casey Wellman (3 each).
Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild)
Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators)
CALDER CUP FINALS SCHEDULE
2011 Calder Cup Finals (best-of-seven)
W2-Houston Aeros vs. E5-Binghamton Senators
Game 1 – Fri., May 27 – Binghamton 1 at Houston 3
Game 2 – Sat., May 28 – Binghamton 2 at Houston 1 OT
Game 3 – Wed., June 1 – Houston 2 at Binghamton 1
Game 4 – Fri., June 3 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05 EST
*Game 5 – Sat., June 4 – Houston at Binghamton, 7:05 EST
*Game 6 – Tue., June 7 – Binghamton at Houston, 7:05 CST
*Game 7 – Thu., June 9 – Binghamton at Houston, 7:05 CST
PLAYOFF HISTORY, CONNECTIONS
--- This is the first time the teams have met in the playoffs.
--- The Aeros have never faced a team from New York in the postseason.
--- Binghamton’s Corey Locke is the Aeros single season (2009) playoff leader in points (23), goals (12) and PPG (6). Goaltender Barry Brust was an Aero from 2007-10.
--- AT HOME, Matt Hackett is 8-3 with a 2.17 GAA and .911 SV%. He went 3-1 at home in the Conference Finals.
--- ON THE ROAD, Hackett is 6-4 with a 2.74 GAA and .893 SV%.
--- Matt Hackett’s uncle, Jeff, led the Springfield Indians to a Calder Cup win in 1990 and was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, annually given to the most valuable player of the playoffs. He went 10-5 that playoff campaign.
LAST GAME QUICK RECAP
Jon DiSalvatore had a goal and an assist and Nate Prosser scored the game-winner as the Houston Aeros defeated the Binghamton Senators 2-1 in Game 3 of the 2011 Calder Cup Finals before 4,710 fans at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena on Wednesday night. Patrick O’Sullivan assisted on both Houston goals while goaltender Matt Hackett made 28 saves in the victory, including 13 in the final 20 minutes.
AEROS SPECIAL TEAMS
POWER PLAY --- Is 1/9 vs. BNG… Went 6/30 vs. HAM… Went 6/32 vs. MIL in round 2… Went 3/24 vs. PEO 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 --- BNG is 2/11… HAM went 6/25and scored three SHG… MIL went 4/30 in round 2… The Ads scored a SHG in Game 5… 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.
AEROS BROADCAST INFO
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 online at www.ahllive.com.