Jon DiSalvatore works the crease in the 2012 AHL All Star Game in Atlantic City, NJ. Photo by M. Richter.
I'm not gonna lie. I'm still kind of in vapor lock over last night's... whatever that was. But I'll try and choke a few sentences out here, despite the fact that the Aeros weekend will offer zero improvement on our collective moods.
Let's start with not one but TWO 5-2 losses on Friday and Saturday before the AHL All Star break to bring their losing streak to 6 games.
The worst part is how optimistic I was feeling: The boys were all going gangbusters on the Twitter during the flight up to OKC Thursday. Some funny chirping and some good "money on the board" type of plans in action.
Several of us had not-insignificant money going to captain Jon DiSalvatore's favorite charity in exchange for a win against the Barons, and even more coming if they swept the weekend with a victory over San Antonio Saturday night.
The momentum was palpable. It was like... I dunno, a 4-1 lead or something! But it wasn't enough, even with most of the band back together after the Wild sent a handful of guys back down for the NHL All Star break.
Part of me, however, wasn't surprised. I think I've written here before that guys, other than Wellman, have just been "off" upon their return to the AHL. So I knew, either they were going to be phenomenal or they were going to exhibit the ugly kind of chemistry that happens when you mix bleach and ammonia.
Anyway, some guys went home for the break, some stayed in Houston, and Jon DiSalvatore and Matt Hackett went to Atlantic City for the AHL All Star game. Both guys did Houston proud and played well, if you sorta ignore the 6 goals against for Hackett in the first period of the game.
He's a better man than me if he wasn't wishing the clock would tick a little faster to finish that period. No way was that fun.
However, the next two Western goalies (Ben Bishop and Yann Danis) held the fort and the Western conference swept the weekend, winning the Skills Competition and the All Star Game. (Bishop, I should note, had a rock star weekend, winning best goalie in the skills comp and MVP of the game).
Headed into the final stretch here, the Aeros are NINE points behind Oklahoma City. Gross. And only one point ahead of Abbotsford. OKC just has depth out the wazoo and is getting stellar goaltending every night. They are headed for orbit and that's terrifying.
Up next: The Aeros have 3 games at home this weekend and then they embark on the longest road stand in the history of road stands. 11 games total and they don't play in Houston again until March 10th (naturally, my wedding anniversary, so we'll see how that gets negotiated -- wish me luck).
Fortunately, there's a stretch at the end where they are actually home, for all in intents and purposes, playing Texas back to back one weekend and then San Antonio a week later. So maybe your intrepid Aeros writer will find the energy for a couple of road trips.
Whatever the case, the grind is on full blast now. Winning the division may actually be out of reach at this point, but everyone behind the Aeros in the division standings is within watermelon seed spittin' distance.
Finally, for a great look at the AHL Western Conference on the whole, T3I's Andrew Ferraro put together a great Power Rankings post. You really have to know your AHL to do this and I certainly couldn't have put this together, so check it out if you're interested.
BTW, I'll miss the Aeros game on Saturday because I'll be in Dallas for the Wild game. Who drives 8 hours to see her team lose? That's right, *I DO!* Because I'm an idiot. But if you're one of those coming down on the team trip for the game and you see a curly redhead bopping around in a Clutterbuck jersey, say Hey.