The Ontario Reign went into Game 3 with a “must-win” attitude and now the San Jose Barracuda literally must win tonight in order to stay alive in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Ontario (1P) took a 2-1 series lead over San Jose (4P) with a commanding 3-1 victory Thursday night.
Reign head coach Mike Stothers made significant lineup changes to all four lines for Game 3 and they paid dividends, as the Barracuda looked helpless against their dominant rival. Adrian Kempe, featured as our ‘Reign Player to Watch’, scored his first two goals of the playoffs, while Peter Budaj was rarely tested until the final five minutes of the game.
Aaron Dell, yet again, was forced to repeatedly stand on his head for the Barracuda until a “live to fight another day” move by head coach Roy Sommer relieved the Cuda starting netminder with backup Troy Grosenick with 6:50 left to play. Despite the shortened night, Dell still finished with 36 saves, including one on a Nic Dowd penalty shot. Even Grosenick, himself, stopped four shots in under four minutes of ice time. The Reign led in shots by a whopping 30-8 after 40 minutes and finished 43-17 for the game.
It would be safe to assume that Stothers will be sticking relatively close to his Game 3 lineup, while Sommer’s complete rearrangement of lines throughout the third period last night will likely carry over to tonight. Keep an eye out for possible supplemental discipline to Barracuda right wing Trevor Parkes throughout the day. He was ejected last night for boarding Ontario’s Sean Backman and though the call seemed to be controversial, Backman did receive a nice shiner from the hit. Sommer could toy around with the idea of trying out forwards Rourke Chartier and Kevin Labanc, who are now available to play after traveling in from Canada yesterday.
The Barracuda need to put this game out of their minds. It was very similar to the March 13 game between these two teams, where it was not so much about how the Barracuda played, as it was everything that the Reign did right. If San Jose chooses to maintain a similar lineup, they may need to increase the physicality and turn Game 4 into a dogfight. Unless Chartier and Labanc are thrust into the spotlight right away, the Cuda may not have enough skill to take down the mighty Reign defense in any other fashion. Finding a way for San Jose to get more puck control is absolutely vital if they wish to remain in the playoffs.
Players to watch tonight:
Aaron Dell, San Jose – Almost single-handedly keeping the Barracuda alive, facing 112 shots in less than three full games
Nic Dowd, Ontario – Still the best NHL prospect that nobody talks about, has a point in each game of the series
|San Jose Barracuda||Ontario Reign||Advantage|
|Div. Standing||1st, Pacific
|4-5-1||Last 10 Games||6-4-0||Reign|
|0/7 (0%)||Power Play||1/9 (11.1%)||Reign|
|8/9 (88.9%)||Penalty Kill||7/7 (100%)||Reign|
Barracuda Estimated Lineup
89 Goodrow – 40 Carpenter – 21 Morin
82 Goldobin – 77 Timmins – 86 Langlois
11 Lerg – 17 McCarthy – 84 Parkes
53 Jevpalovs – 49 Boudreau/60 Chartier – 62 Labanc
70 Young – 47 Ryan
51 McNally – 41 Mueller
3 Stollery – 63 Bergman
Reign Estimated Lineup
27 Mersch – 9 Kempe – 12 J. Brodzinski
7 Sutter – 26 Dowd – 16 Backman
18 Samuels-Thomas – 10 Amadio – 39 Auger
28 Lowry – 11 Newbury – 15 Bissonnette
20 MacDermid – 5 LoVerde
3 Forbort – 4 Gravel
55 Schultz – 23 Ebert/33 Raine