Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Charitable opportunities

(Update with a little Aeros news first: Joe O just tweeted that the Aeros have added right wing Harrison Reed to the roster. Not sure how long the call up is for but given the thin troops, I'd guess he's along at least for the next three games.

This season, he played 4 games with the Monsters and had stints with them each of the last 3 seaons and 11 with Toledo (ECHL) with 10 points in those 11 games.)

The holidays are always full of worthwhile charity pleas, but when they're hockey related, they get my attention. Here are a couple that I thought were worth sharing with you guys. Feel free to skip this post if this sort of thing annoys you (it's okay, I'm easily annoyed, too).

The first is a charity a friend of mine in Kansas City started after losing his wife, Becky, to pancreatic cancer. Of all the cancers, pancreatic is one of the nastiest. Hard to catch early and, as a result, has extremely poor survival rates.

But Bob Klem is using his hockey prowess (he's a goalie, naturally) to raise funds for research by holding a couple of "Have a Skate with Bob" events each year (and fundraising literally year round).

The first event this year is actually being supported by the Rockford Ice Hogs. They're doing "The Skate" as it's called, before Saturday's Ice Hogs game, and then sticking around for the Hogs game after.

The event includes an auction with great prizes and just generally a big ol' celebration of how we can use something as fun and awesome as hockey to help find a cure for cancer. I'm not sure it gets any better than that. Hockey is fun, but hockey for a cause is fun AND gratifying (especially when you suck like I do).

Bob is tireless in his efforts to spread the word and champion the cause, and if you want to support him and The Skate, you can make a donation HERE. And if you're a reader in the Chicago area and want to attend, Bob's contact information is on that page as well. (It's also teddy bear toss night at the Hogs game. Always fun.)

You can also follow the Skate on Facebook by going here. It's pretty great of the Ice Hogs to support him like this and his next goal is to do the same event but with an NHL team. Wouldn't it be nice of the Wild to help out? *wink nudge hint hint*


Second, closer to home is a cool deal the Aeros are doing with rescue group Greyhound Pets of America. This combines two of my favorite things: Dogs and Hockey, so I'm all over it.

Bonus is that it means good prices on tickets for those of you who aren't STHs. Here's a PDF with all the details.

So if you're looking to make a difference for an animal-loving organization AND get a deal on some Aeros seats, it's worth looking into.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weekly Miscellany

Greetings to you today from downtown Washington, D.C. I am working here today and tomorrow, and tonight I am lucky enough to see the Capitals take on the Blues at the Verizon Center.

Last year I saw two NHL games; Dallas vs. Chicago and Los Angeles vs. Calgary. Those games were great, but tonight I am excited because I have never seen a game in this arena.

It's Dale Hunter's first game as head coach, and I am sure the home team will be fired up.

As for the Aeros, they are traveling to Cleveland today in advance of their three-game trek through the Northeast. It's Lake Erie first, followed by Rochester and then Toronto. Tonight, on paper at least, is probably the teams best chance at a W, but I think Lake Erie gets the payback and the Aeros will split the two games later this weekend.

Cedric Desjardins has allowed more than three goals just once in his last six starts, and the Monsters have points in six straight (5-0-0-1) following a losing streak. Basically the Monsters are hot with good goaltending and the Aeros, though still getting points, are alternating good games with bad ones. We'll see how things turn out this week.

And in closing, I want to share this link with you. It's so bad and good at the same time. It is hockey related, and I have never seen anything like it, so I will let you judge for yourself.

Have a great week!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A bushel full of roster moves

So, 4 things we know are official:

Warren Peters and Nate Prosser are headed back to the Aeros. In exchange, Casey Wellman and Dave McIntyre are headed up to the Wild. In fact, McIntyre is making his NHL debut tonight in Minnesota, so that's pretty exciting. And it's on Versus if you want to tune in.

It's a little bit of a blow offensively to lose both those guys and only get Peters back (nothing against Peters, of course, but that's 2 forwards who score a lot gone and one who scores a lot (at least lately) back). But it's fantastic to get Prosser back on the blue line.

What's unofficial at the moment, but the clues all seem to be there, is that Dennis Endras, Aeros #2 goalie, may be headed over to play in Finland, while Adorable Darcy Kuemper is headed to the Aeros. Allegedly.

You can click the links above and draw your own conclusions. The Wild/Aeros are expected to release something tomorrow.

That said, Kuemper's been tearing it up in the ECHL with a league-leading 1.74 GAA and 0.941 save percentage in 8 games. And he was just seconds away from his first pro shutout last night, but his team gave up a couple of penalties and the Condors put one past him.

So if this turns out to be true, the Aeros are getting a very good goalie in Kuemper. Even better than when he was here late in the season two years ago. And the organization appears committed to his development, so the legitimate competition between Kuemper and Hackett should drive them both pretty hard.

I'm just glad I never had to do a "Free Kuemps" stick figure drawing to actually get him to Houston. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On the road again ... and loving it.

I asked Aeros head coach John Torchetti why he thought the Aeros were so much better on the road than at home. I asked him that question after the Aeros stole a point from the Stars in Friday's 2-1 overtime loss.

As you read right here after that game, he said if we knew to let him know because he basically had no idea.

Well, the numbers don't lie, the Aeros are a much better team on the road than they are at home. Some may point to a softer away schedule, but it does look like there is no friendly ice advantage for the Aeros this season.

So what do they do one night after the OT loss at home? The Aeros go to Texas and win 4-2. They are 3-0 in Central Texas (4-0 if you count the win at San Antonio, too) and have outscored the Stars 17-5 on their own ice.

Now the Aeros have games on the road at Lake Erie, Rochester, Toronto and then back at San Antonio. While it would be nice to get three wins on this trip, they'll be lucky to get one of the next three and split the trip. Lake Erie is much better since the last time these two played, and Rochester is red-hot, having won seven of 10 entering play today. The Aeros never play good in Toronto, so we'll have to see how they'll handle playing improved competition.

Matt Hackett has been really good recently and the team does have points in six straight games. Even when they don't win, they still don't lose. They have the fewest regulation losses in the AHL, and something has to be said for that never-say-die mentality ... even when they play poorly and steal points (or, conversely, when they play good and don't get much at all...)

So the Aeros are 1-0 on the road trip so far. How many wins/points do you think they'll get?

Friday, November 25, 2011

It's a Dud! It's a Turkey! It's a Post-Holiday Aeros Game!

Photo by Chris Jerina/AHLinphotos.com

Maybe they should change the name of the Toyota Center to the Entenmann's Arena for all the turnovers we saw out there tonight.

The Stars first goal was clearly an issue of the Aeros defenseman needing to cut Jordie Benn's pass to Scott Glennie, who was waiting in the weeds and essentially had an open net as Hackett was having to respect Benn's threat.

I mean really, what are defensemen for if not to prevent cross ice passes 4 feet from the front of the crease? Young Cuma will get an earful on that in film review next week, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, the game winner was a turnover right next to the net, and again it was the Cuma/Penner defensive pairing. I didn't see who turned it over there in the corner, but it wasn't a good game for those guys. It wasn't a good game for lots of guys.

That's, frankly, my biggest concern about this team right now. Three quarters of the forwards seem to make smarter defensive plays than the actual defensemen. Prosser can't get back here fast enough.

Torchetti was pretty pointed in his comments to us after the game. He didn't specifically throw anyone under the bus, but he said he didn't have four lines tonight who were committed to playing the game right.

"It was almost the same game as last week. The bottom line is you can't play with three lines, we only played with three lines tonight. We had one line take the whole night off. We've got to get better effort from all 20, not just 15 skaters," Torchetti said.

He was happy with the comeback and the tenacity by the guys who were on board, however, but it came back to the need for every line to battle consistently, which would have allowed the Aeros to at least lose the game in the shootout (kidding, kidding... sorta).

"It's a good comeback! That's the best part. I loved our comeback. I loved our work ethic in the third. Maybe the second half of the second, saw changes in momentum with puck possession and shots on the net and changing our lines," Torchetti said. "Then to give up a goal on just a simple... we've got to be willing to sacrifice more ourselves in those areas and just hold on to the puck and let them battle for it instead of just giving it. It's just frustrating, giving up points."

Torch was in fine form tonight, so I'm just going to serve you the rest of his quotes neat:

"It's a situation where you've got to understand with certain people not in the lineup any more, your ice time improves incredibly. So your amount of touches improve by probably 10 more times. So, you've got to learn how to play tired in certain situations and just hold on to the puck, instead of just throwing the puck away because you're tired.

You have to think tired; that's the name of the game. So we've got a lot of guys still in positions that they're not used to playing as much. Where they were 5s and 6s here last year, now they're in the top 4. They have to understand, if they want to make the next jump, if they want to be an NHL player, you've got to be on the spot with your handles."

Do you feel like the points are coming?

"Yeah, I'm not going to argue with you about that, but I expect four lines after three days off. A little harder. I expect more from certain players because that's what's expected from our organization. We've got guys who want to go play in the NHL and you can't show up and play like that and expect to go play in the NHL tomorrow if they call you up. That's the bottom line for me."

Any chance of a line change-up?

"We pretty much had a wholesale change-up (in the third). Hack played great, and their goalie played great, but again we've gotta get traffic in there. He made a couple of nice toe saves there with, like, two minutes left to tie it up. We got a point. We're learning lessons as we get points.  When you're not getting points and not learning lessons, then you gotta start to worry."

Why is the home record so much worse than the road record?

"It's kinda like a shootout, if you guys know, let me know. We're certainly trying. We're trying everything. We're already ready. I mean, maybe we're thinking, alright, we practiced the shootout yesterday and we relax. But it's not a good play to give that play that low when we had the puck. When you have the puck, it's YOUR puck.

And we talked about this behind closed doors, we've had the puck on probably 80% of the goals we've given up. I don't mind if a guy comes in and has an incredible forecheck and runs you over and beats you to the puck, and.... makes a great play. Other teams are going to make great plays, but we can't make the plays for them. That's what I'm disappointed in."

Now the boys hit the road, only returning to Toyota Center ice on Dec. 8 for the ear-splitting, always crazy kids day game.

It was largely a pretty boring game with not a lot of great chances on net, other than a few bursts of nearly playoff-like hockey that were pretty great. Props to Hackett for that sick glove save late in the third that he put a little something extra on. That woke me up a little, for sure, but I'm a ridiculous sucker for a flashy glove. More, please.

I'll try to keep you up somewhat on what's happening on these road games, maybe even in a timely manner!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

More With Jon DiSalvatore

As promised on Tuesday, I have some more stuff from my interview with Jon DiSalvatore which I didn't use. So, for Thanksgiving, I'm sharing here.

The hockey season is a long one. Games start at the first of October, and if you're in the playoffs, you can go into June. Then there are camps and practices starting in August and September. You're constantly having to train and workout, and at some point, you've got to find a way to mentally unwind from the season just past. Especially if that season ended in a Game Six loss of the Calder Cup Finals on your home ice.

And according to DiSalvatore, he's still feeling the bumps and bruises of last season, both physical and mental: "Even now though, we’re still feeling some of the aches and pains from playoffs. We’re trying to overcome some of that as we get going here. You never actually forget it because you’re body’s telling you that you were there just a few months ago. It’s definitely a feeling that I would love to repeat with this group of guys. It’s all here, but we have a ways to go yet."

As much as last year meant, DiSalvatore knows that it's not a thing that can be repeated because there's just no way to repeat the chemistry that team had. It was special. Not that this team doesn't have chemistry, or won't get the chemistry.

"Obviously we have a large core group of guys who have come back," he says. "There’s a tremendous amount of buy-in from a large number of guys we have back here already. The coaching staff is bringing the same feel, with some new energy. They’ve been great. They’re winners as well. They’ve been very successful as coaches before. They’re bringing the same kind of emotion and attitude towards what we’re trying to achieve. Now it’s just a matter of us all jelling. Again, it’s got to be a new foundation. We try to keep those same principles, we’re a hard-working, character team. We want to have teams in their own zone.

"We need to build that identity. Even though we have a lot of guys that still want to do it, when you have a few guys who have never played that way before, it takes some time for that all to jell. Yeah, we’re off to a good start, but there’s still a lot that our team needs to do to become that team that can go the distance in the playoffs."

There's also the matter of DiSalvatore being on his third coach in three years as an Aero. I specifically asked about the adjustment from Mike Yeo to John Torchetti, because being around the team last year, it was obvious how much Yeo fought for his guys and how much those guys for fought him.

"Of course they’re different," he told me. "They’re two different human beings. But they’re both great. There’s a really good feeling. Torch brings a really good attitude, really positive – not that Yeosie was ever negative, Yeosie was tremendously positive. They both have a really good – we call them player’s coaches. They both have a really good pulse on the team, they know how to relate to their players. They care about their players. And that’s what this coaching staff is bringing to this team, and that’s what the guys last year brought to the group we had last year. It’s the same, but it’s different in the sense that it’s good because they’re bringing the right kind of approach to the team that we need to be a winning team."

And here's the point that surprised me the most. The AHL made a big deal about reducing the season to 74 76 games from 80 games. It would cut travel costs. It would mean no more four games in five nights. It would be better for the players and mean much fewer midweek games. But so far, early in the season, DiSalvatore doesn't exactly like the new scheduling format. He thinks it might work, but right now, not so much.

"You can look at that schedule and see where it’s a little bit different," he says. "You get rid of the four-in-fives, but you have a lot of three-in-threes. You end up having to get on planes a little bit more actually because you can’t go up and bang out four teams up in the Chicago-area like maybe we did in the past. Maybe it’s a little more rest and practice – there’s going to be pros-and-cons to it, but we’ll just see how it plays out at the end.

"Houston always seems to start out with a lot of games early, and we’ve gone three-in-three, three-in-three, and that’s fine, so right now I can’t really tell you that there’s all that much difference."

That's it. Happy Thanksgiving everybody, and I hope to see you all the game versus the Texas Stars tomorrow night.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jon DiSalvatore: The Heart of the Aeros

The Aeros media gurus asked us at T3I to assist them this year with providing material to the AHL.com "On The Beat" feature. And I was tasked with the first story. So...here's the link to the just posted story on Jon DiSalvatore, the captain of the Aeros. I hope you'll go over and give it a read.

And just a note, I got a lot of material from DiSalvatore that I didn't use in the story (and they didn't use my favorite photo) including his thoughts on the new scheduling, so I'll try to throw those up on your favorite website on Thursday as kind of a Thanksgiving stuffer.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Aeros Lose 1-0 To Heat In The Shootout

Both Houston and Abbotsford were playing the third game of a three-in-three weekend tonight. It didn't show early on though late in the game it really looked as if some f the Aeros were really dragging on the ice.

But neither team could score as both goalies, Matt Hackett for Houston and Leland Irving for Abbotsford pitched shutouts through 65 minutes. Hackett was able to stop three of the four shootout shots he saw, but the fourth one, from Dustin Sylvester got past him, and none of the Aeros could get any of their shots -- some of them being really weak attempts -- could get past Irving.

"Shootouts, right now they're affecting us a little bit," head coach John Torchetti said after the game. "We're not productive on it. We'll address and keep working on it. We can't hide it down in the basement because it's costing us points right now. We have to understand that and keep working on it."

They constantly had what appeared to be some excellent scoring chances on Irving throughout the night, but they just couldn't shove the puck past him. Torchetti wasn't as thrilled with that part of their game, saying that though there were some good shots, they didn't do a good enough of job of creating good rebound opportunities.

Torchetti also wasn't pleased with the power play's work tonight, but then again, this is the Aeros, and problems with the power play seem to be part of the Aeros DNA.

The Aeros were able to get four of a possible six points this weekend, getting points in each game. But it seems kind of hollow in that the Aeros could've won all three games, or so it seems.

And is it just me, or is there a bit of deja vu with these shootout/overtime problems. It seems like the Aeros suffer through this every season.

After tonight, the Aeros are tied points-wise with Oklahoma City for second place in the AHL West Division, and they have the third most points of any team in the AHL, with a record of 10-3-1-4 (25 points). They're off until Friday when they host the Texas Stars at Toyota Center at 7:35.


Krys Kolanos did not play for the Heat tonight, though he was in the building. We're not sure if there's an injury issue, but I do remember hearing earlier this season that the Heat were trying to be careful with how they use him because he's been recovering from an injury that nearly kept him out for two seasons.

Pictures from the weekend

Pictures! Courtesy of Chris "Midwest" Jerina. Ahhhh, so nice to have photos again! You can see his favorite shots from around the AHL at http://ahlinphotos.com.

DiSalvatore/Penner/Bachman/whoever score on a rebound off the boards behind the net.

Helluva shot of Hackett making that sick save Friday night. Wow.

Kassian wails on Godard

Rau rips a beauty past Bachman

Kass and Wathier jaw at each other on the bench. Funny.

Taffe puts one through Bachman Friday night

Stars get their shorthanded goal and the teddy bears rain down.

Wellman picks a corner over Bachman's blocker side

Thanks again, Chris! Was fun having you here this weekend! (Donkey!)

Roadtrip Recap: A nifty win at the CPC

I don't do a lot of road trips with the Aeros, but boy did I choose a good one. With Chris Jerina in town, we made the trek to Cedar Park and even though I have bags you could run away from home with under my eyes today, it was well worth it.

The early goal by McMillan was a little fluky and when the Stars answered with that shorthanded goal and the Aeros started to look a little rattled, I thought, "Uh oh."

But just a few nice plays by your teammates can calm a team down and boost the confidence, and the Aeros got that from Jed Ortmeyer and Dennis Endras. Ortmeyer set up some beautiful chances on goal and was just completely clutch. And Endras made huge save after save at really critical times that could have put the Stars up 2-1 very easily.

But by the end of the period, the Aeros had settled into a nice rhythm. The Stars led for shots, but the Aeros led for goals and from there, it was the kind of hockey we all saw in through the playoffs last year. Just wave after wave of badassery.

And by the third period, Stars goalie Bachman was on the bench and Beskorowany was in, but never looked comfortable. Understandably so, too.

I like how this team looks going into today's game, and even as ugly as that last game against Abbotsford was, Coach Torchetti feels the same. Even though I felt the Aeros were on their heels from the word go in that game, he felt like without the penalties, that game would have looked very different.

And while there were a couple of penalties he didn't like last night in Texas, he felt better about the team's discipline.

"Everything we discussed last night, we did a lot better tonight," Torchetti said. "We wanted to be hard to play against and I think we did that tonight."

I thought it was interesting that he had Endras play the middle game of the 3 in 3 rather than sticking him with the stinky third game like the back-up usually gets saddled with.

Whether it was to yank Hackett's chain a little after Friday's Jeckyll and Hyde performance or to reward Endras for his good play that's so far gone unrewarded by the Aeros playing poorly in front of him, I couldn't get Torchetti to say. But he did have high praise for his tenders.

"You know what, our goaltending, they're both hardworking guys. Endras has worked hard in practice... for someone to sit there for almost a week and not play, that's a great performance by him. He's a really hard worker, and his teammates know that and they want to play hard for him."

I asked him if he thought Endras stole the game at times. If the Aeros hadn't been able to rack up 5 goals, Endras' performance was unquestionably star-worthy. In fact, the one goal against was on that breakaway and he had to sprawl so thoroughly to make that save, there was no way he could have gotten back for the rebound. His defense needed to be a little sharper there and clear that out or play a little goalie themselves.

"Again, that's his work ethic in practice. He's willing to take shots after, and... that's our goaltending! Our goaltending, it's frustrates our team because it's tough to score in practice. So, that's what makes you better. I've been on a lot of teams with some good goalies and it makes your players want to work harder to try and score goals."

That's all! I'll throw up some of Jerina's pics and then see you all this afternoon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aeros rip Stars, bus home to face Abbotsford Sunday

Dammit! I said the Aeros were going to win 5-3 tonight. Well, that certainly wasn't the case and Dennis Endras kept the Stars out of the net most of the night en route to a decisive Aeros win at Cedar Park Center.

While I did not see much of the game, it sounds like after than nasty shorthanded goal by Vincour, they really dominated the game.

A 5-1 win just one night after lollygagging through a 3-2 OT loss sure does make one at least a bit more hopeful against the red-hot Heat. They, by the way, destroyed OKC Saturday night.

Mike Lundin did not make the trip, but I guess could play Sunday against the Heat. So that makes he and Matt Hackett really rested for the big game today. Both teams will be playing its third game in three days, and this is the biggest game of the season so far for both teams.

Wellman, Penner and Rau each with a goal and an assist, and DiSalvatore just chipped in with two more points against the Stars. He just murders that team ... I know there is a note out there about how many points he has against the Stars, but I just can't think of it right now.

(Really, REALLY long day so far)

The Aeros were only shorthanded four times, and did not allow a power play goal against the league's top PP. They did, however, give up another shorthander. That, to me, is the only bad blemish on what otherwise was a real solid night.

Oh and can you really believe that the Wild, at this very moment, are the top team in the NHL? Guess what? I can ... I believe in Mike Yeo and what he is doing. I am sure they won't be the No. 1 seed come April, but he is going to get every last ounce out of the players he has.

We've all seen that first hand, huh?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Aeros Lose to Stars 3-2 in OT

So that was disappointing. Not just the Aeros losing 3-2 to the Stars in OT, but the way the Aeros played the game. It was like, at times, they were skating in mud, playing sluggish and just a bit slow and out of synch.

The only reason the Aeros weren't blown out tonight was the play of Matt Hackett who stopped 32 of 35 shots, including one incredible stop late in the second period that had the crowd on their feet shouting "Hackett, Hackett, Hackett!"

The Aeros tied the game at :50 into the second on a pretty shot by Chad Rau, and Jeff Taffe gave them the lead at :34 into the third period. But that was about it on the offensive zone.

The thing that killed the Aeros the most tonight was the same thing that's been killing them all season. Stupid play. Stupid penalties. Stupidity. Head coach John Torchetti is getting tired of it, and he's searching for solutions to the problem.

"I don’t know how to spell discipline anymore," he said after the game. "You try to explain it so many times with this team. But we don’t want to listen to it. I don’t know anything except we’re averaging six penalties a night still.

"I’ve tried everything. I’m going to have to start sitting guys out for the first penalty they take. Discipline. They’re taking penalties that aren’t even near the net. Taking penalties two hundred feet from the net. You’re not going to win hockey games. You won’t last in the playoffs." (emphasis mine)

Still the Aeros are 9-3-1-3 on the season, so that's a plus. Jon DiSalvatore was able to play, and Casey Wellman made it back from Minnesota to get in the lineup, too.

The Aeros play the Stars again tomorrow night before facing Troy Ward, Luke Strand, Krys Kolanos, and the Abbotsford Heat at the Toyota Center on Sunday at 5:00.

Game Day Update

The Texas Stars will get on the bus bound for Toyota Center here shortly...In the meantime, there is some Aeros news to report. The Wild did assign Casey Wellman back to the Aeros. Not sure if this is a virtual assignment or a real one, but I am guessing it's the latter since they had to do that in order to get Mike Lundin off injured reserve.

Speaking of which, Russo's blog in MSP reported that Lundin has accepted a rehab assignment and will play for the Aeros this weekend. He'll probably play both home games ... no chance he'll do the three in three this weekend. The revolving hospital door up north keeps on spinning though. Just to make Aeros fans nervous, Jared Spurgeon and Dany Heatley did not practice for the Wild today. Both could be injured, just taking a day off or sick. Who knows at this point?

Also, if I were a bettin' man, I'd lay down a few bones that Jon DiSalvatore will be good enough to go tonight against Texas. The Aeros need him right now, especially against a Stars team that allows a ton of goals per game.

Oh, and one housekeeping note here. We love all your comments, and we don't like to censor. We love compliments and criticism both equally. How can you get better if no one disagrees with you and dialogue dries up? But ... we are not going to publish comments when we are called names. If you call us a name and tell us WHY you are calling us a name. Well, we'd be more than happy to print that. But if you just call us a name, that is not going to fly.

Our readers want entertainment, and insults without explanation are not entertaining.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home and Home with Texas weekend

One of the reasons we started and maintain this excellent blog is to inform, opine and manage your expectations. We want you to know what your team is doing, how we feel they're going about it and what you can expect week in and week out.

So, with that, pretty much the best you can hope for this weekend is probably three of a possible six points against the Texas Stars and Abbotsford Heat.

The Aeros are going to play first a team with arguably the worst defense/goaltending in the league followed by the team with the best goalie (Leland Irving) and hottest player in the league right now (Krys Kolanos). A three-point weekend without Warren Peters, Nate Prosser, Kris Fredheim and Casey Wellman, in my opinion, would be just gravy. And there is a fair chance that Jon DiSalvatore won't play with a lower body injury. He is a game-time decision for Friday, and I doubt, either way, he makes the trip to Cedar Park on Saturday.

Two weeks ago, the Aeros were the best (statistically) team in the AHL. They fell back a bit after two bad, bad home losses to Toronto and Abbotsford. Maybe they should outlaw the singing of "Oh, Canada" before the games, but health certainly would help at this time.

Proposed new logo for Minnesota Wild
The Wild keep getting concussed and some of their key players are being outplayed by Aeros call-ups. I am not overly confident that the Aeros will get back the roster they had when they were off to that great start. We'll have to see how things shake out.

If there is any good news out there, it's the schedule. There are six games left this month and five of them are against two defensively-challenged teams. In the one "tough" game against Abbotsford, the Aeros have home ice and have a better 3-in-3 schedule to deal with (less travel).

Torchetti sounded like he was ready to go off on a few guys after the game last week. And that was BEFORE he lost Wellman and Fredheim. He basically said selfish play and the lack of team defense was starting to be an issue. I think the goaltending has lacked as well, but they are certainly not the reason for all the turnovers and odd-mans coming AT them.

Players are human, though. They see the revolving hospital doors just outside the Xcel Energy Center and opportunities present themselves. Now, with four key players on recall to the NHL and several other players in still in Houston who did not get the call, it will be more interesting to see how the team responds.

First, your coach says you're not playing good defense.
Then two other players get called up ahead of you...
How do you respond to that ego check?

I guess we'll see Friday night at Toyota Center.

WARNING! Meaningless predictions to follow

Friday - @Aeros 1, Stars 4
Saturday - Aeros 5, @Stars 3
Sunday - Heat 3, @Aeros 2 (OT)
Three of a possible six points

Wellman Back To Wild

That was quick...Casey Wellman re-recalled to the Minnesota Wild where he joins Warren Peters, Nate Prosser, and Kris Fredheim. And with the way the Wild players are getting injured, I think we should send some bubble wrap to Minnesota on the plane with Wellman to give the players more protection.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fredheim signed, called up

Well, all you folks (like me) who expected the Wild to call up Cuma or Bagnall to replace yet another concussed defenseman in Marek Zidlicky would be wrong.

Instead of taking the obvious route, they decided to do what they should have done in the offseason and sign Kris Fredheim to a 2-way NHL contract. And then they immediately called him up, and he is likely to make his NHL debut tomorrow night in Minnesota.

It's an interesting choice by the Wild, but it was nice to see a tweet from his d-partner, Cuma, sincerely congratulating him. No doubt the decision stings a little for Cuma.

It's in the comments as well, but Wellman was returned to Houston, so the Wild still have Prosser, Peters, and now Fredheim. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

View from the PressBox - Aeros 5, Charlotte 2

The score should actually read, AHL Schedule 1, Charlotte 0. As for the scoresheet, go ahead and give the goal to Jon DiSalvatore, who scored twice while playing for AHL Schedule. As for the first assist, well give that to Mother Nature, who surely hates us all for the 81-degree temperature and 150-percent humidity.

As for the second assist, just give it to Tim Tebow, who for some unexplained reason keeps leading the Denver Broncos to wins. All I can say is man, there are a LOT of bad teams in the AFC this year ... but I digress.

Torchetti wasn't exactly thrilled with the game Sunday. He basically said that he hopes that there is a nasty bug going around to make the team play selfishly and not on point. (Jeff Taffe did miss the game due to illness, by the way.) His best quote was, "Points don't get you to the NHL, team defense does."

Here we are 15 games into the season, and most people have to be thrilled with the balanced offensive attack. But what is lacking is any sort of consistent discipline and the kind of defense that will make a team one to be feared in the playoffs.

Look, the Wild are banged up right now, and the Aeros are missing a few guys due to recall and injury and illness. Something tells me the Aeros need to get things right before the weekend, because a home and home series against Texas will start on Friday.

The Stars are winless in three straight and will be working their asses off all week with just about one goal in mind.

And the Aeros, depleted or not, better be ready for that no matter who is in or out of the lineup. Like Torch said, a sound defensive game gets you to the NHL ... not whatever it was the Aeros were trying to do for the second half of Sunday's game.

To be fair, it is nice that the team can play like that, make a the coach a bit uneasy and still find a way to win 5-2. The Aeros are a good team, and just a few tune-ups are needed to make this team an AHL powerhouse.

But, just as easily, things could go the other way if a selfish mentality continues to penetrate a sound, defensively structure.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled Sunday evening.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Matt Kassian, Twitter Super Star

I've got a piece in the mothership today on Matt Kassian in which we discuss his funny and fantastic twitter feed. So go read it.

But I spoke with him last Sunday about a some other things, primarily his return to Houston after starting the season with the Wild, and I thought I would use this post to share those thoughts.

"The message [from Mike Yeo] is to keep working," Kassian said. "It’s kind of a difficult situation for me. It’s obviously disappointing, and you want to be there, but at the same time, I’m coming down here with a group of guys who have already done a fantastic job this season. And the coaching staff has done a fantastic job this season. You know you’re going down. You can look at it two ways. You can either be frustrated and angry and disappointed, or you can try to make the best of it. I’m back down here now, and it’s not where I want to be. But it’s not like I was out in the first two days of training camp. It’s another step forward for me. I was there for a reason, and I stayed around for a reason. It wasn’t like they didn’t like me and weren’t happy with what I was doing. So it’s just about working hard and getting back here. I’m excited to be here. It’s been my home for a few years, and I have a lot of friends and some family down here."

So there you go. Read the post in the Press if you get the chance. And if you're not already, give Kassian a follow on Twitter. It's well worth the time.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So, About That Game With The Heat

The Aeros got the loss tonight, their second in a row, losing 5-3 to the Abbotsford Heat led by head coach Troy Ward, assistant coach Luke Strand, and forward Krys Kolanos -- notice the Aeros connection.

The Aeros actually played a good first period of hockey, and they had some quality shot attempts, but they just couldn't get the puck in the net. But they also suffered the loss of defenseman Elgin Reid on a boarding call early in the first period. And since it was his head that went off the wall, one would expect to see a five minute penalty. And one would expect wrong as the offending Heat player got only two minutes.

Jeff Taffe and John Torchetti were quick to remind the officials #42 Danny Burchell and #42 Jarrod Ragusin of that in the second period when some calls were missed, but the result was back-to-back unsportsmanlike penalties. Penalties which surprised Torchetti because he's never seen unsportsmanlike penalties given out for asking questions, especially when there is no profanity involved. But this is the AHL, and the AHL isn't exactly known for good officiating.

The penalties led to two goals for the Heat which put the game out of reach, despite a furious comeback in the final minutes which found the Aeros get to 4-3 with :57 remaining the in game. But sometimes deficits are just too hard to make up, and Abbotsford got the empty netter just before the horn to make it 5-3.

Torchetti took the blame for this loss, noting that he was the one who got the second unsportsmanlike penalty.

There was no word, after the game, on the status of Reid, but he did not return to the game after being knocked out of the game early in the first period.

The Aeros are off until Sunday afternoon when they host the Charlotte Checkers at 5:05 (and I the only one getting tired of the constant Sunday home games).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Peters to The Wild

Guess what, kids. The injury bug appears to be alive and well with the Wild yet again. As a result, Warren Peters is on his way to join the Wild.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

View from the Press Box; Aeros killed Sunday

View from the Press Box is the same view everyone else had. First 5-6 minutes were good, and the rest of the game was crap.

It was turnover city, and the Marlies capitalized time and time again in a 6-2 drubbing of the home team.

While it's easy to say now, it just looked like the Aeros thought they could just dipsy doodle past a Toronto team that has been struggling lately. After they scored their first power play goal in the first period, the Aeros clicked on the cruise control and paid dearly.

How to fix this?

Well, for starters, it will be nice to have Jed Ortmeyer back on Thursday. Also, I did not see Hackett on the bench tonight, so I can only assume that he was sick and unavailable to backup.

Torchetti said the Aeros went from their best hockey game to their worst in a matter of two days. Don't turn the puck over, don't be lazy, work hard, and things will be fine.

Abbottsford is a good hockey team with a great goaltender.

The Aeros have three days to get ready for their first "biggest division matchup" of the season.

Ortmeyer Suspended

The AHL has just announced that Jed Ortmeyer has been suspended for one game because of an illegal check to the head on Friday night in Hamilton. He will miss this afternoon's game against Toronto.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Recapping Lake Erie and Hamilton away WINS

So, y'all... the Aeros are pretty good.

Scary good.

Scary in the sense that it all seems too easy right now and teams that cruise from the start rarely seem to be cruising by the end. Maybe Hershey a couple of seasons ago. I dunno. Just sorta makes me nervous.

Now, if you follow us on Twitter, maybe you caught my live tweeting of the game in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters Thursday night.

It was the last game of a 9 day trip where I went to a hockey game on 8 of those 9 days, and this game was the only bad one. Mainly because Lake Erie is just a really bad team and it hurts to watch them. And I say that with 2 live games at Quicken Loans Arena under my belt on this trip. I won't go into the gritty details because it'll just come across as mean, but take my word for it.

When I saw them play Syracuse the week before, they got lit up 7-0, with goalie Trevor Cann getting run after 6 goals. It was like watching an ECHL team play an AHL team.

It was so bad, I was actually disappointed the Aeros got scored on much at all when they played them last night. But Mr. C summed it up best: The Aeros got up 2 goals early and cruised the rest of the way.

There was urgency and beautiful hockey for stretches, but also occasional periods of lackadaisical play that burned them pretty much every time. Even with some really big saves by Hackett (The Kid just gets better and better), Lake Erie put 3 on the board.

DiSalvatore scored just seconds into the opening frame, then Ortmeyer got a nice one midway through the first. It was strong period, top to bottom, but they came out for the second with their B-game and the Monsters capitalized early to get within 1.

Warren Peters scored on the power play late in the 2nd to get some insurance and then the Aeros went up 4-1 early in the third with a goal from McIntyre, his 6th of the season.

From there, Lake Erie scored a couple of goals, but not without Taffe putting his mark on the game (for the second time, really, as he assisted on Peters' goal) with his 4th of the season to make the final 5-3.

The Aeros are just so easy, breezy with this system after playing it all last season and then really putting it through the ringer in the playoffs, I still just find it odd to watch an Aeros team succeed like this and make it look relatively easy. I mean, don't change a thing, boys, but still. It's an odd phenomenon this early in the season.

Tonight, I didn't watch so I can't speak to the effort level it took to beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2, but knowing the Bulldogs, it wasn't the cake walk Lake Erie appeared to be.

Still, it was a strong first period, putting up 11 shots to the Bulldogs' 4. But no goals in the frame.

The Dogs scored first, early in the second, with the Aeros answering just a few minutes later on a power play goal from DiSalvatore.

From there, the Aeros scored 2 more unanswered goals (Fontaine from Bagnall and Reid; Peters from Taffe and Wellman [PP]) and the Bulldogs, in spite of an additional power play goal with a 2-man advantage late in the third, couldn't close the gap.

Palmer got his first of the year with an empty netter from Cody Almond, who made his season debut tonight after recovering from a back injury. The final was 4-2 for Houston.

Day off tomorrow as the boys head back to Houston. Then they're back at it Sunday against the Marlies, who are off to a hot start this season, leading the North Division. Now, I can't say whether that's because they're that good or because they've been playing Lake Erie so much.... but either way, it's a good litmus test for the Aeros.

Meanwhile, the boys in the bomber sweaters have 19 points, which leads the division, the conference and the league in points, and have a league leading 8-1-0-3 record. Darn those shootouts!

(Oh, and to recap a little news that may or may not have been posted here yet, Matt Kassian cleared waivers and is being assigned to Houston. Hide your rooster figurines.)

See you Sunday, gang.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Quick Roster Notes

Per Wild beat writer Michael Russo, the Wild have placed Matt Kassian on waivers with the intent of returning him to the Aeros. Also per Russo, Marco Scandella and Justin Falk were told they could move out of the team hotel and find some more permanent housing in the Twin Cities area, so it looks doubtful that we'll be seeing them with the Aeros this season.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jordan Hendry blows town for la Suisse

As Chris Jerina first reported on a comment to this blog, Aeros defenseman Jordan Hendry is now a former Aeros defenseman. Hendry, who signed a one-way deal with the Aeros before the regular season, will play in the Swiss A league for HC Lugano. I don't recognize too many names on his new team, with the exception of former Aero and Calder Cup champion Hnat Domenichelli and Rob Niedermayer.

Swiss A is a place where all good AAA hockey player's dreams can come true. Candy grows on trees, most of the pretty women there shave, and the teams ride mounted unicorns to their games.

Ten games into his Aeros career, Hendry had but two helpers, but his +/- was an impressive plus 8.

That kind of experience will be hard to replace, so we'll have to see what Torchetti does with the lineup. The natural fit might be F/D Mike Hoffman. And it might be some other dman in the ECHL, and it might be no one.

In other news, expect Cody Almond to join the Aeros soon. He is healthy enough to play and will be, what Aeros fans hope, is a good addition to the roster. Also, Brett Bulmer was sent back to his junior team, and as far as I know, no Aeros player has been recalled to take his place just yet.

Not sure they need to at this point, but we'll try to keep you posted.