The Aeros are several men down because of a rash of injuries to defenseman, but that did not keep them from picking up three points and moving up from 10th to 9th in the overall standings.
|Hackett with a great stop - Morris Molina, Houston Aeros|
Early on (already) health is going to dictate their fate far more than any other factor in the short-term. The team is loaded and they really look like they love playing and going to battle together. I'd love to see this group play for two straight months at 95 percent healthy.
There is some definite leadership and a fighter's mentality. That will go a long way down the stretch when they are playing all those road games in late winter.
Get ready for a lot of close games and a weaker power play until Granlund returns.
Big-picture wise, the Aeros have 10 more games this month, and six of those games are against San Antonio, Rockford and Oklahoma City. Only one of those teams (Lake Erie) has scored more goals than the Aeros, but four of those teams have allowed fewer goals.
Lake Erie and Abbotsford are ahead of the Aeros in the standings, but every other team on the schedule is within a game of .500 - translation? Get ready for a lot of close games.
Right now the Aeros are on pace for 91 points. Last year, that is good enough for a three or four seed in the Western Conference. What I want to see - to call the Aeos an elite AHL team like I believe their coaches think they are - is for the Aeros to start playing better at home.
They have already lost three of five at home this year, and last year, they were 17-21. I realize they get points for getting to the fourth period, but OT and SO losses are losses.
All three games are at home this week, and the Aeros need to win two of them to stay in the upper half of the league standings. I think they can do just that if Hackett plays like he did the last two games, and the Aeros keep plugging away with their no-quit style of hockey.