Photo credit to the Rochester Amerks
This week, it's all about goal tending
This week's update on the Aeros is brought to you by Andrew, and I've picked the player of the week at the end.
The grueling part of the Aeros schedule is over (17 games in 35 days), and with 55 games under their belts, the rest of the Western Conference will start to catch up a bit in the coming weeks.
After winning five games on their season-high eight-game roadie, the Aeros came home and beat the OKC Barons (Edmonton) 2-1 in front of more than 12,000 fans at Toyota Center. By all accounts, Matt Hackett (more on him later) stole the show and gave the Aeros another one-goal win in regulation.
After the one home game, the Aeros will play their next four games on the road, with a pair of weekend trips to Abbotsford (Calgary) and Charlotte (Carolina).
The Aeros currently hold down the No. 5 spot in the west, but have played four more games than two of the teams behind them. If the Aeros continue at their current winning percentage, they should finish with enough points to qualify for the playoffs for the 16th time in 19th years.
Bright spots for the Aeros are plentiful at the moment, especially on the "other" side of the puck. Since Jan. 23, the Aeros have allowed more than two goals just three times, and Hackett and Darcy Kuemper, now the Wild’s backup, are a big reason for that.
Since Kuemper’s recall, Hackett has started six straight games, won four of them, and has kept the team within striking distance in both losses.
By all accounts, it looks like Kuemper will be with the Wild a lot longer than maybe some in Houston originally thought. But the Aeros schedule is much more manageable, and the team probably won’t have to use their backup until March 21-23, the next time they play three games in three nights.
After the four road games, the Aeros will then play 12 of its next 14 on the road before closing the season with a three-game trip to Texas, San Antonio and OKC.
Houston Aero of the Week- Matt Hackett
Hackett has really come back into his form after the departure of Darcy Kuemper to Minnesota. Honestly he was never really out of form, but getting less playing time due to Kuempers hot-streak will always make people question if he is as good of a goalie as originally thought. He’s back to an even 18-18-3, which is pretty good considering that for most of January (6 game losing streak) he had little to no help when it came to defense. He’s currently 4-2 since taking over net-minding duties full time, and has stopped a ton of shots. Between Friday and Saturdays series against the Barons, Hackett stopped 62 of 67 shots. In the last six games, Hackett has been facing an average of 32 shots a game, and only allowing in an average of 1.67 goals a game.