Houston Aeros Weekly Update - Nov. 16, 2012

The Aeros were just mediocre last week (again), netting three points in four games. They went 1-2-0-1 and started the week with a 6-4 loss at home to Toronto last Thursday night. Friday, the Aeros were edged 5-4 in a shootout loss at Toyota Center to Lake Erie. The Texas Stars handed Houston a 4-2 loss at home on Sunday. Tuesday morning, the Aeros outlasted the Rampage 7-5 in San Antonio.

I don't have quite as much substance this week as I was not able to attend any games in person last week. Work, kids schedule and just life in general kept me away from the rink.

The prevailing question right now as the team enters the weekend against the Rockford IceHogs (including Sunday's match at the X) is "What is wrong with the defense?" Several of my colleagues and I have discussed this as it seems to be a team-wide issue (and not just the blueliners.) The Aeros have shown they can come back from any deficit, and it is clear that they play much better when down two goals than they do when they have the lead.

Where is the desperation? Where is the will to stay ahead and be a dominant team with all the talent they have?

The current slide (and really it hasn't been all THAT bad results wise) started with the injuries to Granlund and Brodin a couple of weeks ago. When you lose that kind of talent, the team starts to press a little on offense, and maybe they get away from the system that John Torchetti always preaches about.

Another theory - and this one involves injuries too - is the NHL lockout talk and some key players not really knowing what is next for them. There are a few players on the team that will be called up the second the labor situation is fixed. Some of those players, including Marco Scandella, just don't look like they are putting everything into it. Now, to be fair, we have not had the chance to ask him "what's wrong?" but something just isn't right with his game. He's not fully engaged and several of us wonder if maybe he got spooked by the injuries (he even suffered a wrist problem recently) and took things down a notch to avoid that happening again.

Consider some of these recent quotes from Torchetti:

  • "Until we understand that we have to come out and play consistently our roles, and do what we're asked to do and play our system, we're going to be playing like this (bad, inconsistent) for a long time."
  • "We've got to play defense, bottom line."
  • "We've got one line tonight that wanted to cheat all over the ice and gave up two goals and they didn't want to commit to playing defense, and until they do, we're not going to be a winning hockey club."
  • We have to be more focused. Our young guys have to understand that we have to be ready for a 60 minute hockey game."
  • "We don't even have one nick on our faces. We've played four hockey games; I don't think anyone's paid a price yet."
  • "We made them feel comfortable. I don't see the desperation that we need to see."
These quotes are just from last weekend. Tuesday morning, the Aeros rebounded with a seven-goal performance against the San Antonio Rampage. But, they were still awful defensively, allowing five goals, including two shorties.

It is still quite early in the season, and maybe the last two weeks really did take away from their chemistry because of the injuries. But everyone needs to work better at keeping the puck out of the net, including the goalies. While not solely to blame, Darcy Kuemper and Matt Hackett have had their lapses and have not been able to "steal" a win for the team.

I hope many of you up in and near the Twin Cities get a chance to see the Aeros play this weekend. They are a fun team to watch with all the scoring, but they do need to tune things up on the other end if they want to be a force in AAA hockey.
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