AHL Morning Skate: Moose look to ground Aeros

Every game day from now until the end of the Calder Cup Playoffs, the AHL Morning Skate takes a spin around the AHL ice with recaps and previews, news and notes, facts and figures, and the top headlines from around the American Hockey League.


No games scheduled

Manitoba 4, HOUSTON 3 (MTB leads series, 3-0)

1. Michael Grabner scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, as Manitoba escaped with a 4-3 win over Houston in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

2. Jason Jaffray picked up two assists as the Moose took a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

3. Marco Rosa posted a pair of helpers for the Aeros in the losing effort.

Game 4 – Manitoba at Houston, 8:05 (MTB leads series, 3-0)

CC09rd3_160x600.jpg2009 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS:
Complete Results || Scoring Leaders || Goaltending Leaders

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A2-Providence Bruins
Game 1 – Sat., May 16 – Providence 3, HERSHEY 2
Game 2 – Sun., May 17 – HERSHEY 2, Providence 1
Game 3 – Fri., May 22 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
Game 4 – Sun., May 24 – Hershey at Providence, 7:05
Game 5 – Mon., May 25 – Hershey at Providence, 4:05
*Game 6 – Wed., May 27 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., May 28 – Providence at Hershey, 7:00

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. W3-Houston Aeros

Game 1 – Fri., May 15 – MANITOBA 2, Houston 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 16 – MANITOBA 5, Houston 2
Game 3 – Mon., May 18 – Manitoba 4, HOUSTON 3
Game 4 – Wed., May 20 – Manitoba at Houston, 8:05
*Game 5 – Fri., May 22 – Manitoba at Houston, 8:35
*Game 6 – Mon., May 25 – Houston at Manitoba, 8:30
*Game 7 – Wed., May 27 – Houston at Manitoba, 8:30

*if necessary… All times Eastern

GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 4 – Manitoba at Houston, 8:05 (MTB leads series, 3-0)
Manitoba can secure its first conference championship and advance to the 2009 Calder Cup Finals with another victory over Houston tonight in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals… The Moose have won all seven meetings with the Aeros this season and are riding a 10-game winning streak overall, two shy of the AHL record for a single postseason (Hershey, 1988)… Michael Grabner, who had one goal in his first nine postseason games, now has back-to-back two-goal efforts after helping the Moose to a 4-3 win in Game 3 on Monday, scoring the winning goal with 3:49 to play in regulation… Grabner (4-0-4) is the only Manitoba player with more than one goal in the series; seven others have once apiece… Captain Mike Keane also lit the lamp on Monday, and Alexandre Bolduc added his second shorthanded goal of the playoffs… Jason Jaffray chipped in a pair of assists and has now put together five multiple-point efforts in the playoffs… Manitoba goaltender Cory Schneider (11-2, 1.76, .935) allowed three goals for the first time since the Moose’s playoff opener on Apr. 15, but the Baz Bastien Award winner still secured his second double-digit winning streak of the season (Schneider won 13 straight decisions from Oct. 17 to Jan. 20)… Since taking a 3-1 series lead in the last round, Houston has lost five of its last six contests, winning only Game 7 in Milwaukee last Wednesday… Marco Rosa posted two assists in Monday’s loss and leads the Aeros with four points (1-3-4) against Manitoba… Matt Beaudoin, Corey Locke and Danny Irmen all netted goals for Houston in Game 3… Locke continues to lead all AHL playoff scorers with 10 goals and 17 points in 17 games, and Beaudoin ranks second among league rookies with 12 points (5-7-12)… Nolan Schaefer earned his first start of the playoffs in Game 3 and took the loss with 15 saves… Schaefer is now 1-7 with two no-decisions in his last 10 Calder Cup Playoff appearances… Manitoba had allowed four third-period goals all postseason before Houston scored twice to erase a 3-1 deficit in the final frame on Monday… The Aeros are 6-5 all-time when facing playoff elimination; the Moose are 9-5 with a chance to knock off an opponent… Houston is facing elimination on home ice for the first time this year… Tonight’s game is airing live on Sirius XM Radio and XM Canada (XM 204, Sirius 208).


Tim Campbell, Winnipeg Free Press
Just before Monday night’s AHL playoff game started at Toyota Center, public address announcer Steve Vidal ran down the list of scratches for the Manitoba Moose and Houston Aeros. On his list was Moose winger Michael Grabner. The Aeros should have been so lucky. It was just a paperwork error and Grabner, the Vancouver Canucks first-round draft pick of 2006, made no such mistakes with two goals including the winner with just 3:49 to play in Manitoba’s 4-3 victory. It was the most tense finish of the series after the Aeros rallied on home ice from a 3-1 deficit to start the third period, tying it in the first seven minutes.

Kirk Penton, Winnipeg Sun
A 10-game winning streak in the regular season is one thing. A 10-game winning streak in the playoffs is quite another. And even though Manitoba’s post-season winning streak hit double digits with Monday’s 4-3 win over the Houston Aeros, Moose head coach Scott Arniel wouldn’t say yesterday that his team is playing its best hockey of the year right now. “We’ve played this well in the past. We’ve had these runs,” Arniel said yesterday from Houston. “I look at the road trip out east (in February), when we went out and played Providence, Hartford and Manchester. That was some of the best hockey that we played all year long.” The aspect that sets apart a 10-game winning streak in the post-season is that you’re facing the same team night after night.

Kirk Penton, Winnipeg Sun
It’s late May, and Jason Krog is still playing hockey. This should come as a surprise to no one. The Manitoba Moose center is one win from advancing to a final for the ninth time in the last 15 years. All the Moose have to do is win one of the next four games against the Houston Aeros to clinch a Calder Cup berth. “I’ve got quite a bit of playoff experience, and I enjoy it, and I’ve been fortunate to play on some good teams,” Krog said. If the Moose can shoot down the Aeros tonight, it would mark Krog’s second straight trip to the Calder Cup (he guided the Chicago Wolves to a title last spring) and third overall.

Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun
The Vancouver Canucks aren’t deep in blue-chip prospects but their top three are now housed under one roof and thriving in the American Hockey League playoffs with the Manitoba Moose. Goalie Cory Schneider, left winger Michael Grabner and center Cody Hodgson, the latter a recent addition after his junior season concluded, have all been part of the Moose’s superb post-season run. The Moose are on a 10-game playoff win streak and tonight can dispatch the Houston Aeros to reach the AHL championship series. “We were the first overall team in the league and a lot of those good habits we had over the course of 80 games have been taken to the next step at playoff time,” coach Scott Arniel explained Tuesday. “The guys have continued to play very well at a very high level.”

Andrew J. Ferraro, Houston Chronicle
Luckily the Aeros didn’t get a whole lot of time to think about what slipped away Monday night at Toyota Center. They lost the first two games of the Western Conference Finals and had a chance to get back in the series with a Game 3 win on home ice. They fell behind early, tied the game in the opening minutes of the third period on goals by Corey Locke and Danny Irmen and then watched the Moose take a commanding 3-0 series lead on a late goal by Michael Grabner. Tonight, the Aeros get a chance to save face with a win. A victory earns the team at least a third game at Toyota Center Friday. Lose, however, and the Aeros’ most successful season in six years is over.

Tim Leone, Harrisburg Patriot-News
Providence Bruins head coach Rob Murray played for the Springfield Falcons in the 1996-97 Southern Conference finals against the Hershey Bears. After losing the first two games at home, coach Bob Hartley’s Bears recovered to win a classic and controversial series in seven games. A parallel can be drawn between those Bears, who won the Calder Cup, and Murray’s P-Bruins. Like Hartley, Murray is giving heavy ice time to his top two lines and top four defensemen. Unlike Hartley, who was a master at delaying tactics that could buy his high-use players an extra 30 seconds of recovery time, Murray faces a more difficult rules environment. There was no hurry-up faceoff rule then.

Providence Journal
After the Boston Bruins were eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes last Thursday, Byron Bitz thought he was headed to Saskatchewan to help an uncle plant wheat, barley and canola on his farm. Peter Chiarelli had other ideas. On Monday, the Boston general manager talked to Bitz about finishing the season in Providence, where the Bruins are playing Hershey in the Calder Cup semifinals. “He said he thought it would be good for me to come down here,” Bitz said. That was fine with Bitz. “I’d rather be playing,” he said. “I’m excited to get back into it.”

The American Hockey League announced yesterday that several games from the Calder Cup Playoff conference finals will be airing live on the NHL Home Ice channel on Sirius XM Radio and XM Canada.

Providence Bruins forward Brad Marchand steps into the AHL Chat Room to answer fans’ questions this Thursday, May 21… Visit theahl.com to submit questions for Brad, and check back Thursday to see his responses.

Former AHL All-Stars Valtteri Filppula (2006) and Jiri Hudler (2004, 2006) set up one-time AHL 30-goal scorer Mikael Samuelsson for the game-winning score 5:14 into overtime as Detroit grabbed a 2-0 series lead in the NHL’s Western Conference Finals with a 3-2 win over Chicago last night.

– Including Manitoba this year, teams who have held a 3-0 lead in a conference final series since 1999… Among the previous nine, all five who completed the sweep (Hershey 2007, Milwaukee 2006, Chicago 2005, W-B/Scranton 2001, Rochester 2000) went on to lose in the Calder Cup Finals, while all four who lost Game 4 (Chicago 2008, Hamilton 2007, Saint John 2001, Providence 1999) eventually won the Calder Cup.

6.7% – Amount of time (39:57 out of 600 minutes) that the Manitoba Moose have trailed during their current 10-game winning streak… In the last six games alone, Manitoba has had to play from behind for a grand total of 75 seconds.

May 20, 2006 – Portland scores twice in the final 5:22 of regulation and Shane O’Brien strikes 7:31 into the second overtime as the Pirates end Hershey’s 10-game winning streak with a 6-5 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 20, 2005Freddy Meyer’s hat trick lifts Philadelphia to a 4-2 win over Providence in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference final series.

May 20, 2002 – Louie DeBrusk scores 9:10 into overtime as Hamilton staves off elimination with a 3-2 win at Bridgeport in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

May 20, 1981 – The Adirondack Red Wings win their first Calder Cup, defeating Maine in Game 6, 5-2.

Don’t miss a step on the road to the 2009 Calder Cup championship. AHL Live continues to bring AHL action to your computer all postseason long with live video webcasts and highlights of every AHL game, as well as behind-the-scenes features and interviews in the Video On Demand section… Visit theahl.com or ahllive.com for details.