Houston Hotdish: On the road, thankfully

Fare thee well, Dennis Endras. We hardly knew ye. Photo by Chris Jerina/AHLinPhotos.com

The Aeros headed north yesterday for a 3 game road swing in Cleveland, Rochester, and Toronto.

I don't know about you guys but I miss my team when they're on the road. However, when their road win record is significantly better than it is at home? Well, I miss them a little less.

And that is indeed the case for the Aeros. This was particularly highlighted in back-to-back weekends of home and home games against the Texas Stars.

The last two Friday nights in Houston, they were verging on lousy. Saturdays in Austin, they were playing good Aeros hockey. The joke lately is that they should play all their games at Cedar Park Center, the Stars' facility.

But for now, they'll settle for playing anywhere on the road as they are currently 4-7 at home and 7-2 in enemy territory.

When asked what could be done about this phenomenon, Coach John Torchetti said, if we figure it out, let him know. We'll get right on that. But he feels like they've done everything they can think of to get them focused for home games and it isn't working yet.

But maybe a nice road win streak will carry over at the Toyota Center upon their return. We'll have to see.

I only saw one game this week and couldn't listen to the game Saturday night, but as I mentioned, the Stars bested them in the game we saw. It was boring hockey until the final minutes, and then they lost. So I won't recount that. But they do keep getting points, as 5 of those 7 home losses were in overtime or shootouts.

The big news, of course, is the roster moves this week. Bryan has touched on those here already but I'll give you the Aeros perspective in easy-to-use bullet points:

  • Thank you for giving us Warren Peters and Nate Prosser back. Peters is a fair trade for David McIntyre, though McIntyre is speedier, Peters is grittier and an established leader on the team. Our depth on defense is sketchy right now and Prosser will be a huge boost... maybe.
  • The maybe comes because sometimes guys come back from NHL stints with their heads not on right. Kris Fredheim has been unfocused since he got back and that hasn't helped matters.
  • Please don't hurt Casey Wellman. PLEASE. He's adorable.
  • I actually really liked Dennis Endras. He's a very good goalie who could have very easily been our #1 and nobody would have batted an eye. Except Matt Hackett's also very good and he's a prospect, and in the AHL, prospects get the political advantage when it comes to ice time. Endras plays a very confident game with enough razzle-dazzle to keep me interested, and I'll miss his ninja skills out there. BUT...
  • I've loved Darcy Kuemper since he was drafted. Even though he was a fairly low pick, everything I saw and read told me his style was going to thrill me and he exceeded my expectations when I finally got to see him play with the Aeros a couple of seasons ago. And he's even better now. So, as sorry as I am for Endras that things didn't work out better for him in North America... well... YAAAAAAAYDARCYTIME!!!
  • *ahem* What that translates to in "serious hockey fan" speak is, Kuemper is an exciting prospect. What I like most about him is that he plays an ego-free game, which I think is a subtle characteristic in goalies that goes underrated. When you play an ego-free game, you're virtually unflappable. Your team sucking doesn't bother you, the other team being dicks doesn't bother you. Hell, goals against don't bother you. It's almost this neutral state, where your emotional involvement extends to your competitive nature and not beyond. Just stop the pucks. And stop them he does. So I'm really excited to have him in the fold long term.
  • That said, they're going to have to divvy up the starts better for him to get enough playing time. 60/40 would be a division of labor that makes sense to me with this Hackett/Kuemper tandem. But I do think they are at a similar level of experience and ability where they will push each other to excel.
  • Also, he's got these rosy cheeks and big smile... awww, he's such a cute kid.
  • Torchetti was also lamenting a lack of bodies competing for ice time down here. Friday night, they had one scratch (Carson McMillan) and he had an injury. No extra healthy bodies means everybody plays no matter what, which is no good for intra-team competition. Will be interested to see if anything is done about that.
  • (And indeed, Joe O'Donnell just tweeted that the Aeros have added right wing Harrison Reed to the roster. He's played 4 games for Lake Erie--tonight's opponent--and 11 for Toledo of the ECHL. Might just be for this trip, but injuries will have a say in that, I wager.)

The boys have 4 games between now and next Wednesday, and I hope to catch a couple of them so I have a feel for the quality of the play vs. just the stats. Sometimes these guys are good enough to win even when they play poorly, which is a nice problem to have, but still a problem.

Next home games are Dec 8 (kids day game, which is always sorta trippy) and Dec 9. Can't come soon enough for me.

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