Tonight, the Aeros will open their fourth week of the 2010-11 season, and to no ones surprise they are having a little trouble putting the puck in the net.
Based on the hard schedule they were "blessed" with out of the gate, I had them with one more win than they do now, so I don't think this team has over or underachieved by any stretch.
At 4-5-1-0, they are still very much in the division race and just about every one of their games came against the top talented teams in the Western Conference (San Antonio, Peoria and Oklahoma City).
Mike Yeo (pictured left in 1995) I think is doing an admirable job so far at the helm of team that does not have any sure-fire AHL superstars at his disposal. The players listen to him, they respect what he brings to the game, and they are fighting for every point. They've only had one truly pathetic game, and that was the 8-2 drubbing against OKC. They just gave up after make it 3-2 at one point.
Carson McMillan, Cody Almond, Marco Scandella and even Joel Broda have been fun to watch. Anton Khudobin, I think, has been solid even in defeat. Hackett, I'm afraid, needs a dose of steady playing time in the ECHL before we see him to return to his week 1 and 2 form. He literally stole win No. 2 for the Aeros, and has been merely pedestrian since then.
If he plays poorly on this trip to OKC, ABB and PEO, look for the Wild/Aeros to make a move. Josh Tordjman has been great in the ECHL and would provide a nice backup for Anton, who quite frankly needs to be playing four out of every five games. That way, he will be sharp *when* Backstrom gets hurt in MSP.
And yes, there have been tremendous disappointments so far. Max Noreau is not Max Noreau, Jon DiSalvatore can't seem to find the right chemistry with his linemates and has been held to just two or three points. And until Warren Peters kind of broke out last Sunday against Texas, he was the biggest disappointment of all.
We talked to him after they lost to Lake Erie, and he IS putting in the effort. He said he and his 'mates have just struggled putting it all together (with it being the chemistry and systems that have to work together for a team to be successful).
If the Aeros can get Noreau, Sal and Peters going, this team could be fun to watch. With the exception of that Lake Erie game, they have played very, very well with the lead and when scoring first. Problem is, they have to GET the lead to hold on to one. Noreau, Sal and Peters can make that happen ... and I think they will.
Peoria, I think, is still the best team in the division, with San Antonio a very close second. (I wonder if Jim Mill wishes he had been able to sign Beaudoin before Matt signed that one-year deal with Dallas.)
Oklahoma City is very talented, too, but the rest of the division will be a dog fight, and I truly believe the West will send five teams to the post season.
The odds-makers in Europe have Toronto as slight favorites tonight. I like Anton tonight, though, and I think he gives Mike Yeo a tough decision going into that game against Oklahoma City. I don't know what Coach is thinking, but Matt has played VERY well in OKC so far. We shall see, eh?