For those of you who are interested -- and who claim we ignore most of the team (I disagree with Andrew on that point) -- I've got a post on Troy Ward up over at the mothership right now. So I strongly encourage you to go read it -- especially since the better the click to read numbers over there, the better the chances of continuing Aeros coverage over there (you should note that the Press is currently devoting way more coverage to the Cougars and Aeros than they are the Texans and the Rockets).
I just want to add a few comments. Troy and Kevin are very aware of all of the things you -- and we here at T3I -- bitch about all of the time. Troy takes the hit for the power play numbers, though the comparison to the 2007-08 Aeros is very valid in that that club had to be one of the worst power play clubs I've ever seen -- Andrew and I would often joke that year that the Aeros should just decline the penalty and send a man of their own off of the ice since the penalty kill was so much better. But Troy's also right in that you can't expect a power play like last year's in that there were some players who could take nights off and still score a goal by the flick of a wrist.
Some other things Troy said reminded me of that 2007-08 club. I remember Erik Reitz telling us early in the season that there were some guys who just couldn't make themselves climb aboard and play Kevin's system -- for some, there was a difficulty with grasping it, for others there was a "I don't like my role" in the system thing. Troy said that there are still some guys who are too willing to go outside of the system and do their own thing.
I also think that injuries -- in Houston and Minnesota have hurt the club. There are some guys, like Peter Zingoni, who got off to a really good start, but have been hurt for most of the season. Other's like Andy Hilbert and Cody Almond have missed time due to injuries.
If you noticed, Brandon Rogers played defense last night. That's not because of inadequacies on the part of Rogers, but it was because for the first time since the start of the season, the Aeros actually had a full squad of healthy forwards available to play. And I like to think that the return of Zingoni might help things further. And here's my thinking.
The line of Hilbert/Jean-Michel Daoust/Chad Rau has been on the ball the past ten games or so. I didn't realize, until I looked at the stats last night, that this line has quietly been on fire. They've had some problems defensively, which both Constantine and Hilbert mentioned last night, but if there's been any line forcing action on the offensive end recently, they've been it. And Constantine went out of his way to mention Hilbert's leadership abilities last night, and how he was trying to set the example on the ice for other players to follow -- I say this because my question had just been to Hilbert's efforts in scoring last night, Kevin took it from there and ran with it.
I would also note that one of the best lines at the start of the season was Zingoni/Almond/Carson McMillan. Almond broke his wrist early, and I think he's just now coming back to full strength. I think if Zingoni can come back, these guys can get reteamed, and they can take off again. That would give the team two decent lines. I could see a teaming of DiSalvatore/Milroy/Smith and Irmen/Kassian/Earl/Gillies.
Then again, there's no real telling as to when DiSalvatore, Earl, Smith, etc. will be recalled to Minnesota.
One further thing, for those who want to know why last night's non-goal wasn't mentioned, that's easy, I didn't feel like it. There's no replay review in the AHL, so the Toyota Center video's crew constant replaying of an inconclusive replay was useless and childish. And as Forecheck said in the comments, it appeared that the goal judge might have had his line of vision screened and couldn't see it. Unlike Max Noreau's non-goal in game seven against Peoria last season, the Aeros didn't really seem bothered by it after the game, so I saw no need to pursue it.
Congratulations to Max Noreau for making the Canadian squad for the AHL All-Star Game.
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