Brad Staubitz, the newest Houston Aero (Photo by Chris Jerina/AHLinPhotos.com)
We stood on the dock early last week and waved our tear-stained hankies at the Aeros as they took off for over a month of away games.
Since then, a lot has changed so let's start this one off after the jump by taking a look at the turmoil in the Aeros' roster lately:
In no particular order:
- Wellman was traded (Aeros get nothing in return)
Marco Scandella gets out of AHL jail and is called back up. Kris Foucault gets to tag along because of Clutterbuck's injury (but shows what we could have told you... he's not ready).
- Brad Staubitz clears waivers and becomes an Aero
Jed Ortmeyer is returned to the Aeros
- The PTO deck gets shuffled yet again, adding a handful of guys, releasing others. The latest additions are Devin DiDiomete, who apparently very nicely kept Zack Stortini in check last night in the loss to Milwaukee, and Rob Mignardi. Latest releases are Harrison Reed and, my personal favorite call-up this season, CJ Stretch.
- Fontaine suspended for 2 games
- And now, just as I'm about to publish this, we find out McMillan is on IR, Foucault is coming back to the Aeros, and Jeff Taffe and Cody Almond are headed back up.
All that in 2 weeks, which included a 3 game home stand before embarking on this 11 day road trip, which sees them flying to Vancouver today, then busing to Abbotsford for a couple of games.
So, yeah, that's just a little bit of roster chaos the Aeros have been facing. And yet they're playing okay... "hanging in there" like the cat on a limb in that poster... despite the 3-0 blanking they got in Milwaukee last night. Our mid-west correspondent, Chris Jerina, said the score didn't reflect the quality of the Aeros play. They just couldn't get the chances into the net (sound familiar?) and one of those goals against was an empty net.
So far, they're 2-2 on this road trip, with two close losses and two 5 goal games to win, so that's not a bad result despite the adversity.
The difference, in my mind, is that Matt Hackett has found his mojo again and is playing very well lately. I was pretty vocal in my criticism of Coach Torchetti's decision to play Hackett for 5 straight games, but maybe that's what Hackett needed to work out the kinks. I'll go eat some crow now.
Still, as much as I like having Darcy Kuemper with us because he's so easy to root for, this lack of playing time is not helping the kid at all. But I don't see a solution now that Endras is long gone, unless something wacky happens in a trade.
They should just sign me to a PTO and let me sit on the bench behind Hackett while Kuemper goes back to Ontario to actually play hockey. Just pray Hack doesn't get hurt.
Currently the Aeros are 7 points behind the first place OKC Barons and 6 points ahead of the suddenly-good San Antonio Rampage. They're spending the weekend with Abbotsford, who are in 4th, just one point behind San Antonio.
The Aeros are playing Abby IN Abby four times in the next few weeks, and the Heat are weakened by call-ups and injuries, so that's a real chance to make some hay in the division.
Still 3 more weeks and some change before we even see them again, and for that matter, we may not even recognize them when they get back.