Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Aeros face must-win situation tonight in Calder Cup Finals

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild off-season news Updated: June 7, 2011 - 9:08 AM

(updated)

The Calder Cup Finals continue tonight in Houston with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop between the Aeros and Binghamton Senators.

An Aeros' loss, and their tremendous run through the Calder Cup playoffs is over. An Aeros' win, and Game 7 is in Houston on Thursday.

The Aeros are dealing with two big injuries -- center Cody Almond and defenseman Jared Spurgeon. Almond was hurt Friday night, Spurgeon Saturday night. They've responded well to treatment and are questionable for tonight's game.

If you want to listen tonight for free, you can listen on aeros.com and XM92/Sirius 207. If you want to watch, go to ahllive.com or Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub.

Here's the preview from the Aeros:

HOUSTON AEROS (Western Conference Champions)
vs. BINGHAMTON SENATORS (Eastern Conference Champions)
BEST-OF-7 --- TOYOTA CENTER (7:05 p.m. CST)

OVERVIEW
The Houston Aeros and Binghamton Senators square off in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals at Toyota Center. The teams alternated wins after Houston won Game 1. Binghamton took a 3-2 series lead with a 4-2 victory in Game 5.
BNG leads 3-2

HOW THEY GOT HERE
HOUSTON
--- Swept the Peoria Rivermen 4-0 in the first round.
--- Defeated Milwaukee 4-3 in the second round.
--- Defeated Hamilton 4-3 in the Western Conference Finals

BINGHAMTON
--- 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.
--- Both Aeros championship runs (1999 Turner Cup, 2003 Calder Cup) required seven games to decide the winner.
--- Since 1965, only five Calder Cup Finals series have gone seven games. Houston’s 2003 victory is the most recent.
--- Only twice have the Aeros trailed a playoff series 3-2; the 2000 IHL Western Conference Finals (lost 4-2 to Chicago) and the 2009 AHL Western Conference Finals (lost 4-2 to Manitoba).

2011 AEROS PLAYOFF NOTABLES
--- During the regular season, when the Aeros lost two games outright, the team came back to win the next two game a total of three times (out of five instances). In the two other scenarios, Houston dropped the third game in a shootout and then won the following two contests.
--- In the playoffs, the Aeros lost three straight to HAM (Games 4-6) and then won Game 7.
--- The Aeros lost six straight from Oct. 16-29 and then won four in a row from Oct. 20-Nov. 6. The team dropped three straight (two in a shootout) from Nov. 8-14 and then won three straight from Nov. 14-19.
--- Houston is 9-3 in games decided by one goal. Six of those games have gone to overtime with the Aeros winning three times.
--- When registering 40 or more shots, the Aeros are 4-2.
--- The Aeros have allowed 35 or more shots only four times including Game 4 vs. Binghamton; the team is 1-3 in those contests.

AEROS PLAYER NOTABLES
--- Matt Hackett’s start in Game 5 tied Johan Holmqvist’s single-season Aeros playoff record for starts (23). Ondrej Pavelec (CHI, 2008) has the AHL record for games played by a goaltender (24) in one postseason.
--- Aeros players have a combined 30 multi-point games in the playoffs, led by Patrick O’Sullivan (5). Five players have three multi-point games.

NHL AFFILIATES
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 0 at Binghamton 3
Game 5 – Sat., June 4 – Houston 2 at Binghamton 4
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.

AEROS GOALIES
--- 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 6-6 with a 2.88 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
Zack Smith scored twice for the Senators and Robin Lehner turned aside 41 shots in goal as the Binghamton Senators edged the Houston Aeros 4-2 in Game 5 of the 2011 Calder Cup Finals before 4,727 fans at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena on Saturday night. The victory gave the Senators a 3-2 series lead as the series shifts back to Houston. JM Daoust scored twice for the Aeros and Matt Hackett made 23 stops in goal.

AEROS SPECIAL TEAMS
POWER PLAY --- Is 1/17 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 4/21 on the PP… HAM went 6/25 and 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.
 

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