Houston Hotdish: Beyond crunch time...

Cody Almond and Carson McMillan discuss strategy or possibly dinner plans during a recent game. Photo by Chris Jerina/AHLinPhotos.com

Remember when the Aeros were a bright spot in a dreary system? Yeah... those were good days.

Now forget about them, because they're gone. The Aeros have lost 6 straight, have dropped from 4th to 7th in the standings (which, as usual, is just 1 point from being out of the playoffs completely and 3 points from having home ice advantage). Granted, they've gotten 3 OT points out of those 6, which is the only thing saving them, but it hasn't been good.

Every year, this conference is just crazy tight and may really take until late in the evening on April 15th to even know if the Aeros are in the playoffs.

The team is at home the rest of the way, except for one game in OKC next week. So that's helpful, but Saturday's loss to Hamilton was a tough one in a lot of ways.

It was one of those where it felt like the team had kind of hit a point of no return. You all know that feeling. Like, they looked like they were working hard, but the result just wasn't there. Of course, some officiating gaffes didn't help, but in the end, it was Coach Torchetti in the locker room bellowing at them, and apparently throwing things.

File that under: Yikes.

So, this weekend's 3-in-3 is going to be The Season, basically.

The team does get Brett Bulmer and Josh Caron in to help out, though it remains to be seen how much playing time they get. I could see Bulmer getting time before Caron.

The real bonus will be when Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, and Steve Kampfer (if he's healthy) come back. Defensively, the Aeros just aren't getting it done and that's been Torchetti's beef a lot this season: The boys playing lousy, unintelligent defense.

Apart from that, roster-wise, it looks like Mike Brodeur (no relation) is the Aeros back-up for the long haul, unless Joe Fallon makes a surprise return from his high ankle sprain.

More details as soon as the Aeros clinch, or the season ends. In the meantime, we're all in "hold your breath and pray" mode down here. Would seriously suck to have both teams out this year.

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