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

Friday, November 9, 2012

Aeros lose in epic fashion, 6-4 to the Marlies

You know how to know I love you? It's 11:30 p.m. and I'm dog tired and I still have 2 episodes of 30 Rock to watch before I sleep.

But this game, a 6-4 win for Toronto, was such a clusterfrank, I couldn't NOT write about it.

I'll say this: The only good thing about it after the 2nd period is that only about 3000 tickets to the game were distributed, and there weren't that many seats filled. If the boys had to pick a night to absolutely go to hell at the end, good job that it was on a night where there were more people working that game than attending it.

If you weren't there, count your blessings while I'll sum it up for you:

Toronto started out guns ablazing, and the Aeros looked like they'd been off for 2 weeks. Toronto scored early, the Aeros found their game legs, and Fontaine scored 6 minutes later to tie it.

Aeros played well in the second. Really well. Goals from Rau, Zucker, and Coyle were answered by only one goal from the Marlies in the period.

And I don't want to gloss over how nice the goals were, because sometimes you have to enjoy the bright spots regardless of the outcome. Fontaine's, in the first, was just his line creating a scramble in front of the crease. Scrivens just couldn't keep up with all the quick little passes and Fontaine backhanded it over the dizzy goalie.

Rau's was a point shot from Corbin Baldwin that tipped in off of him. Zucker's was just one of those power to the net, shoot the puck, beat the goalie deals, unassisted deals that makes goalies hate you.

And Coyle's was my favorite. He and Phillips were streaking up ice, Coyle looks back and points with the blade of his stick to where he wants Phillips to pass it. Phillips puts it right there, Coyle gathers the puck and fights off two defenders to get an off-speed shot on net. Scrivens just doesn't seal the ice, doesn't read the speed of the shot right, etc. and it trickles through him.

Painful goal to let in from a tendy's perspective, but just smooth brilliance from Coyle, who now leads goal scoring among AHL rookies.

Then the horrendous 3rd period with 4 unanswered goals. Someone commented to me on Twitter that the one through traffic was a garbage goal (it was deflected, so no it wasn't), but really, Hackett played well the whole game and got no help. He saw a ton of really tough shots that if Hack weren't more skilled at sending rebounds to safe places, would have ended up in the net. 

Torchetti was even keeled after the game, as he tends to be after losses. This is a development league and here's a teaching moment: You don't take advantage of the opportunities presented to you, you get the snot beat of you. Details, details, details.

He said he's glad they're coming back tomorrow with a chance to make it right, but also said that he feels like some guys aren't putting 100% into their ice time and if that doesn't improve, some ECHL guys may get a stab at it while the offending parties watch from the stands.

So, we'll see where that leads.

The good thing is, Zucker didn't hurt himself when he threw himself violently into the boards celebrating his goal. If he hadn't just gotten back from injury, maybe it wouldn't have made me cringe like it did. I'm guessing Chuck Fletcher and Jim Mill were thisclose to needing fresh undies watching that. Toting Granlund and Brodin around to to doctors in Minnesota is probably more than enough for them in one month.

Back at it tomorrow, gang. Maybe it will be more fun with a bigger crowd. Lake Erie is actually quite good this season, especially on the road, so the Aeros are going to have to bounce back quickly.


artandhockey said...

Hmmm... Torchettis' remarks saound remarkably like his comments last season... you know that "not there 100%"!

Forecheck said...

What else can I say? So-so first period, great second, disastrous third.

I was hoping Torch would have been angrier after the game and maybe he was in the room. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall there - - except you might have been squashed by a flying object. Certainly the fans were angry. A lot of fans in my section spent the last half of the third either booing or mocking the Aeros’ ineptitude (often by name).

Torch owes us, the fans who have had to endure the last two home games, an explanation of just WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED. I mean, they collapsed, but WHY? Was he out-coached? Did his team quit when they went up by two (same thing, sorta)? Was the moon out of alignment with Jupiter? JUST WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED, COACH? (From the fans’ perspective, “teraching moment” just doesn’t cut it.)

I thought Hackett was struggling all night – almost as badly as Koharski struggled with officiating. If it wasn’t for a few lucky breaks, Hackett could have easily given up EIGHT instead of five. It seems like apart from Sunday Hackett hasn’t been himself lately, I would not be surprised to see Kuemps as the #1 for a while. Maybe that needs to be.

It also seems that apart from MiG, Coyle, and maybe a couple of other guys that this team is pretty weak on stick skills. I’m thinking that given the awful passing and feeble clearing/break-out attempts we have endured recently – not once or twice but time after time after time. Not that we have ever seen that before in teams the Wild has sent us. Even the 2010-2011 team was not strong in this area.

Given the two recent third period collapses, I’m also getting concerned about their conditioning. Speaking of that, 20 minutes of Herbies after the game Thursday in front of the fans might have been a good idea (or maybe just a welcome sight to the disgruntled fans…).

The good thing is that at most maybe only 2000 people saw this mess, and it wasn’t on the radio.

P.S. – Saw Jim Mill at the game with his head glued to his cell phone (as it usually is). Makes me wonder if somebody isn’t getting brought up…. or traded.

Joe said...

I sent to my family via IM last night after the first "1-1 after 1. Don't know how. We are getting schooled by the Marlies."

Second period looked much better still not the snappy pass, pass, pass, shoot that did them so well in previously, but much improved over the first.

Then the third period. Sheesh. I must have went through a time warp and stepped back to last year's season.

* Holding and playing with the puck too damn long
* Passing the puck directly to the opposing team
* Shots that missed the goal by ten feet
* No effort in trying to clear out the puck
* Horrible power plays
* Going into power play mode when at full strength
* Overplaying the puck leaving half of the Marlies team wide open
* And the worst part, that drives me crazy, is instead of constantly moving the puck forward, they keep moving it backwards. Like they're scared!

Yep, third period was definitely a reemergence of last year's team.

Agree with Forecheck. Was Torch out coached? Or did the team quit on him? In an age of being politically correct, we will never get a straight answer. Just the typical rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

Like Joe pointed out was Torch out coached?
At 11:21 of the 3rd period Palmeri is serving an Aero penalty. At 11:57 the Marlies tie the game on a PP goal with Larsson on the ice as one on the penalty killers.
Right after this goal Torch puts the Larsson line back out.
(Why I ask after Larsson is probably spent after a 36 second PK shift) Marlies then score the go ahead goal at 12:26 on the Larsson line. That's just poor bench management!
Tired of seeing it ....Let's bring Yeo back for some "bench management " tutoring!

Emilie said...

All I can say about last night is yikes. 1st period they looked a bit tired, 2nd period looked pretty great. We were winning, people were playing well and everyone was having a good time. 3rd period...it looked like they got too comfortable. By the time they realized it, the game was pretty much over.

I'm going to be upfront and say there are guys on the team that I don't think belong there. But the vast majority of these guys are really good hockey players. They didn't even really get out-played, watching the Marlies with the puck was almost as entertaining as watching paint dry for most of the night. But some of the guys just didn't do their job last night. Genoway was in on almost every play on his shift, and there were a few guys that I wouldn't even have known were playing last night if I hadn't been watching the game.

It's a tough lesson that they should know by now. Your head has to be in the game, for the whole game. This should have been a pretty easy game for them to win.

Anonymous said...

Last night was painful, to say the least. I'm not a hockey expert, so someone who is, please explain why Hackett continues to get accolades when, from where I sit at center ice, it looks as if much of the time he isn't moving quickly and doesn't know where the puck is. Is this the fault of his teammates? And was his little temper tantrum, breaking his stick, acceptable hockey behavior? Just wondering.

Ms. Conduct said...

I would agree Hack hasn't looked as good lately as we're used to, but as I said, I thought he played well last night but got hung out to dry more often than not. Torchetti said he felt Hackett kept them in the game, but did admit that the stick breaking and "showing your frustration" is something that shouldn't happen.

It's a pretty helpless and frustrating feeling when you're busting your balls and pucks keep going in. It's really really tough not to blow your top for a few seconds at some point. I've done it many many times and always feel badly afterward because I know how childish it looks to my teammates. I've rolled my eyes at many a defenseman who skates away cussing up a storm after being party to a goal against and it's like, "Dude, chill. You're harshing my mellow." But when it's YOUR emotion breaking through your stony exterior, it's really really tough to swallow and reactions are almost involuntary sometimes.

Nothing like getting lit up because your team is playing badly to bring on a case of sailor mouth or stick abuse.

Add to this that Hack probably isn't super happy with his stats right now, Kuemper's playing like a rock star, and there's definitely cause for pressure to build up.

And guys, I know this was a mind blowingly awful game (though honestly, imagine it without the Aeros 4 goals... THAT'S what last year's team would have looked like), but this was game #11 of a 76 game season. They're missing some key pieces and they're still learning.... and part of that learning is learning to be professionals who play a full 60. Keep in mind, the AHL darling Barons blew a 3 goal lead to the Aeros not too long ago. It happens to the best of them. I think they'll respond with a better game tonight if they can push last night's debacle aside fast enough.

Anonymous said...

Points to ponder...
1. Does Jim Mill notice we are being outcoached?
2. During his time with the Aeros...Does Rau not deserve more PP time?
3. Who coaches the specialty teams?
4. Are Rau and McMillan not our top experienced PK guys?
5. Does McIntyre not deserve some PK time over the rookies?
6. Does development of players supersede experience of veterans?
7. Does development of players supersede winning?
8. Is Kuemper getting his fair shot in net?
9. Does Broda get a chance on the PP ever over Foucalt or others?
10. Is Joe O'Donnell not realize he is the only announcer that misses calling the game over his unnecessary "stat" information rant?
Your opinion/answers regarding these questions would be much appreciated.

artandhockey said...

@anon... Does development of players supercede winning? Well, not exactly, but one must keep in mind that having only wins does not a player make! It's like the 'every one is a winner' attitude that is being used in schools etc. No, not everyone is a winner. There have to loosers in order to have winners!
That's called (oldfashioned I know)character building! One has to learn to loose and still be determined to learn from it and go on to win next time!

Ms. Conduct said...

I can't answer all of these, and honestly don't have an opinion about the coaching. And really, you can't ask a GM 11 games into the season if he sees his team being outcoached and get an answer you believe is honest.

I can say that on 6 and 7, yes. Development is the #1 priority, but part of development is creating a winning culture, so there's a natural balance check. And I think that answers 4 and 5, too. They play people where they think they'll best meet the goal of balancing development with winning.

8. The organization wants Hackett playing a lot. But that want could certainly change if he's not meeting expectations. Kuemper's in the catbird seat here. This is a big year for both goalies and it's just going to have to shake itself out.

9. I don't always note who is on special teams, but I'll watch for that.

10. No clue. I've never noticed that on away game broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

Ms C...thanks for your comments regarding goalie performance. I feel better knowing someone else sees what I see, but appreciate your putting it in perspective. It's good to hear the coach thinks the stick breaking is out of line. It doesn't look good for Hackett when he throws a tantrum like a little boy. And I'm sure the opposing team loves to know they can irritate him into such behavior. Tonight will be better!!

ICEVET said...

Aeros fans should consider the Toronto game "an outlier" and look forward to some very exciting hockey ahead.

The absence of Scandella and Brodin were obvious in the THIRD, and together with the absence of Granlund on the Power Play "flops" over the past TWO games (including the 5/3 last night).

To be sure, there are FEW BETTER coaches (than Torchetti) that the WILD could have found to develop the talent on this AEROS roster. Yet, Torchetti must rely upon Messrs. Van Ryn and Laplante for one-one interface with the players and those "teaching moments", ..... and none of us can have any clue regarding how effective his subordinates have been.

Finally, it has been very painful to watch Matt Hackett (the Wunderkind of the 2010-11 Special Team) regress over the past two seasons. We all hope that he can turn it around and measure up to the WILD's expectations. No one can say that he has not been given the opportunity.

BTW, has anyone noticed that Barry Brust is now 2-0, with a shutout and sparkling stats (.979 SAV and 0.50 GA). Best of luck to our old friend.

Go Aeros!

Ms. Conduct said...

*Raises hand*


Andrew J. Ferraro said...

This may very well be the longest thread of comments we've ever had for a game story ... at least during the regular season.

I am sorry I had to miss the game last night, but a big thank you to Heather for filling in!

Also, I just can't get over how bad this group has been at home over the last two plus years.

That is my only slight complaint toward the staff. I really do think they do a better job of getting them better for road games.

Reeseman said...

As they say, and I concur, the most important skill for a goalie to have is a short memory.