As Hackett heads back to Houston, the national spotlight is off, but the playoff-are-starting and the-guy-replacing-you-was-awesome pressure is on.
Here's what normally happens when I write anything with a shred of definitive excitement about the Aeros: They go out and do the exact opposite and make me look like a huge dope.
So last week, when I gave you a big ol' bullet list of guys who are playing out of their minds along with a few, "still not sure about this thing" (i.e. goaltending), you should not be surprised that the Aeros once again flipped the script on me.
But at least it was flipped in a way I personally enjoy and still resulted in 4 straight wins. Make like Kris Kross and take the Jump...
Actually, I wrote about Justin Fontaine being a monster and he stayed one, scoring another 2 goals in Friday's 4-3 win over Rockford and getting an assist Sunday.
David McIntyre also seems to have found some of the scoring touch he'd shown earlier in the season, getting the lone goal of the entire game Saturday night in a 1-0 shootout win over Abbotsford. He also scored the lone regulation goal in Sunday's 2-1 shootout win over Oklahoma City.
But you hear all those "lone goals" I just mentioned? That's because the Aeros couldn't score to save their lives most of the weekend. They were outshot 22-32 on Saturday and 23-37 on Sunday. Yowza. Generally, as you know, that's a grim kiss of death.
But not when Joe Fallon is your goalie (and my apologies to someone last week who asked if he was from Bemidji... I was thinking State, what with the college tourney going on, not the city, but he is indeed a Minnesota kid).
After a sketchy start to his time with the Aeros, Fallon not only settled in and got good, he flat out stole 4 points for the Aeros over the weekend (and earned AHL Player of the Week in the process). And I may also have a crush on him now. Just a little one. Don't be scared, Joey.
He'll get a little crystal plaque from the league for the honor of Player of the Week, but I'm afraid his days as #1 for Houston may have come to an end this week when Matt Hackett was sent back down.
The good news is that he'll stick around for the long haul, most likely, because Darcy Kuemper apparently is having surgery today on that upper body injury that the Wild doctors told him he didn't need surgery on. *tisk face!*
Anyway, I'll spend all day getting worked up about goalies, so I'll stop there and we'll see how it plays out as the team hits the road for 4 games in Rockford, Chicago, and Milwaukee.
I don't know if he'll play, but Sean Lorenz should be with the team by the weekend according to Russo. The Aeros defensive pairings are pretty okay, so we'll see how much ice time he actually gets while games still matter for Houston.
Also, with Nick Palmieri being sent down last week, it was Kris Foucault who got healthy scratched to make room for him. Read into that what you will. Palmieri wasn't anything to write home about in his first game Sunday, but Torchetti said he's not worried about it. Watch some film, get some practices in, and they'll get him going, Torch told us.
Aeros are alone in 4th in the conference, which, if they can hold on to it, means they get a bit of home ice advantage. However, the first round on the AHL playoffs is best of 5 and if the teams are more than 500 miles apart, it's a 2-3, away-home scheme, which is a DOG, as you can imagine. I'm not sure how much home ice benefits you in that case.
Regardless, the wins this weekend were critical, but also a bit lucky thanks to stellar goaltending. The Aeros are going to have to get more productive in the offensive end if they want to "keep the train rolling" as Fallon often says.
Catch you next week.