The Aeros are in the same spot the Wild are right now. They know what they should be doing but it's not happening consistently. And I fear that for both teams, it's only going to get worse because Wild players keep getting themselves broken, and Aeros players keep leaving to fill those spots.
Here's to Lundin getting healthy by the next game, BTW. *clink* (Though I just saw they reassigned Wellman back to Houston, so that's good news for everybody. Hopefully he'll still be with us this weekend.)
After the jump, I'll give you a quick look at the Aeros 2 games since my last post and then, for a change of pace, give you a some quotes from coach John Torchetti and defenseman Drew Bagnall. They were great talking Sunday and sometimes the best way to get a feel for a team is to hear straight from the horse's mouth.
Thursday's game was brutal. They got their butts whooped by the Abbotsford Heat and former Aero/Wild Krys Kolanos. The K-Train got 2 goals and 3 points on the night and ultimately won 5-3, but it wasn't that close. The Heat had the Aeros on their heels from the puck drop.
To make matters worse, the Aeros got into penalty trouble, the worst of which was an unsportsmanlike conduct to Jeff Taffe for fussing at the ref for not calling a hit that gave call-up defenseman Elgin Reid a concussion (yeah, we have our own injury problems... Reid was still out Sunday.)
Then Torchetti got an unsportsmanlike conduct call himself, which he was pretty livid about, saying he's never seen two in a row like that in 27 years of being in the game. He added that there was no profanity, so he really didn't understand the call.
Sunday was another matter though. The Aeros came out strong in their last game of 4 on the season against the Charlotte Checkers. It was Yeo hockey all the way in the first, where they got a nice 2-0 lead. The second they weren't as happy about as you'll see in the quotes below, getting outshot 18-10 (Hackett was incredible) but they still scored twice. And an empty netter by Casey Wellman sealed the deal at the end.
Here we go with some Torchetti goodness:
Chronicle: That was a good result. Are you happy with it?
"Well, I mean, we probably deserved to win the last one if we don't take the penalties (ed. note: no they didn't). Tonight, they had some good quality chances even though (Charlotte) had 5 (shots) in the first period, they had 3, and then one with an open net that wasn't shot on net to get in the game.
But I don't know, we've got to get a little better defensively, because we're all thinking we need points to move up to the NHL, and that's not what gets you to the NHL. Team defense does.
I don't want to waste any thoughts on anything else, but I'm hoping it's this flu bug that's kind of taken us down here the past week, because this isn't the team that I'm used to working with every day."
Chronicle: So, some guys are playing sick?
"Yeah, well, I'm hoping that's it, but if not I've got to do some more homework, because I just don't like the way we're playing right now as a hockey team. I want to play team-first mentality and that's it. Yeah, we're winning, but we should be winning the right way every game."
Hockey Wilderness: So what are you seeing that they're not doing right?
"When you have a 4 to 1 lead, you keep playing your system and you make it 5-1, 6-1. We're trying to make plays that we're not supposed to. You have to play it like a playoff game every night. The simpler you keep it, the more you get the puck. That's a really good offensive team (Charlotte). They're really smart, they're really disciplined with the puck.
You know, Hack made some big saves for us tonight. In the end there, it might be 4-3 with 2 minutes left (without Hackett's good play). We're never going to be happy. Our goal is to go to the playoffs and try and win it all, but you're not going to win it all playing like this."
Then we got Drew Bagnall, who had a goal (#5 in his career) and an assist on the night, which counts as an offensive explosion for the steady, stay at home d-man:
Chronicle: Two points in one game for the first time in an Aeros uniform?
"Yeah, I think it was just, Macker (McMillan) tried to look me off there, so once I saw him look at me and not give me the puck, I decided I'd just go to the net and got lucky, it was sitting there."
Chronicle: A big win, the last two games were tough scoreboard-wise, you knew you could take advantage of them being a little tired and get the 2 points.
"Absolutely. I mean, they're a good team. They have a lot of offense, I think we played a good game and we got out to that early lead and we took advantage of them maybe being tired or playing in a hot rink like this, whatever it may be.
But once we have that lead, we still have to find that focus to not give them opportunities on the power play. Later in the season when you get teams like that and they come back, that's huge. Moving forward into the playoffs, where we want to be at the end of the year when we're looking back, we've got to make sure we don't give teams like that chances."
Chronicle: You've played 15 games and are getting close to the quarter point. If you look at the team, is it just tightening up defense. Is that the main focus at this point?
"Yeah, I think that it's just understanding that no matter what the score in the game, we have a certain system that we have to play and sometimes when you get up early, it's easy to get away from it, thinking, 'Okay, it's point night.' But we can't be having that because later, down the road, teams will take advantage of it and it doesn't take too long for it to catch up with you.
So, it's just tightening things up and making sure that we're disciplined. Penalties will kill you, and we just have to make sure that we play for one another and it's not all about points."
Coming up: Home and home vs. the Texas Stars Friday and Saturday and I'll be at both games with our photographer in tow, so maybe some fun pictures to share next week. Then a rematch with the pesky Heat on Sunday here in Houston. Should be a fun weekend of hockey.