The quotes that stood out to me after Sunday's 2-1 OT loss came from Kevin Constantine and Wade Dubielewicz. KC was asked about the injuries and he said it was the team's "low point of the year" in that regard. Lots of regulars out of the lineup, and it could be that way for the forseeable future.
The other great quote was from Doobie (has anyone else pointed out that the Aeros goalie's nicknames are Doobie and Dobby?) He said that Mike Brennan's OT goal was a one-in-300 proposition. From where I was sitting, that sucker was going three feet wide. But when you have a major problem playing 4-on-4 hockey, those kinds of things are going to happen to you.
Right now the Aeros are a bad 4-on-4 team. That needs to be fixed and fast, because playing with six regulars out of the lineup this week could produce more OT games, especially on the road.
Another troubling trend is the Aeros' home record to this point. They are 11-9-3-0 at Toyota Center. Technically, that puts them over .500 at home, but really, they are 11-12. When someone asks you who won the game, you can't say, "The Aeros did."
The West Division is a grind right now, and Milwaukee is now the overall points leader in the division. In less than three months, they have erased a 15 point deficit to rise to the top. And there are a lot of team right behind them because the Texas Stars have only played well against the Aeros since about Dec. 9 (2-1 against the Aeros, 1-8 against the field).
The Aeros start a stretch Wednesday that will have them on the road for seven of eight.
When they get back from Peoria on Jan. 30, they'll have played one more road game than at home. There will be 31 games left on the slate to close out there, and if they survive the next three weeks, they'll be in a good spot to get into the playoffs.
Milwaukee has the best schedule the rest of the way and should be able to lock up one of the four spots. Texas, I have to believe, will right the ship soon, and will be the other team to get it. As for the other two spots, who knows? The West is very tight from top to bottom and even San Antonio, a team that lost 11 in a row (and 16 of 19!!) at one point, is still very, very much a part of the playoff picture.
The team will be in survival mode this week, the last three games before the All-Star break. Then, just maybe, they'll get a few guys back when the team makes their cross-continent trek over to Abbotsford.
If the Aeros can steal three points against the IceHogs and Marlies this week, a moral victory will be acceptable. After that, though, the clock will be ticking.