Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1/21/11 -- Aeros v. Stars -- Say Hello To Second Place Edition

Okay, technically, the Aeros are in fourth place, not second place, as we head into Saturday's game with Lake Erie. But screw the technicalities because the Aeros, with 54 points, have the same number of points as Oklahoma City. And both Houston and Oklahoma are one point behind Peoria and Milwaukee who are tied for first with 55 points.

Alas, if you break down by percentages and games won, the Aeros are in fourth behind Peoria, Milwaukee, and Oklahoma City, in that order. But damn, in mid-December, who would have thought the Aeros would be in this position?

Anybody? Anybody?

So the Aeros got the 3-1 win over the Texas Stars tonight as they continued on an incredible hot streak that has seen the team earn a point in six straight games while winning five of the last six. Now lets look at a few items, in numerical fashion, shall we?

1. The Aeros didn't get off to the best of starts. And they were only in the game because of the play of Matt Hackett which, itself, has just seemed to elevate lately. He stopped 30 of 31 shots in the game, and he nearly stopped the one shot he let in.

2. I was down in Hackett's corner with the camera when that goal from Michael Neal snuck in at 9:41 of the first. I'll try to post some photos later -- they're only so-so for what it's worth -- and I thought he was sitting on the puck and couldn't understand why the light went on. The Aeros seemed a bit perplexed, too. But in one of the one photos, the puck, which I thought he had stopped, is sitting in the back of the net.

3. That Texas goal, however, seemed to light a fire under the Aeros, and it's probably safe to say they dominated the game after that.

4. "I didn’t think that our start was very good," Mike Yeo told us after the game. "I don’t think, whether it was the layoff or how this week went, I don’t think we approached the game as well [as we should have]…and I think [Hackett] did a great of keeping us in it.

"Obviously, I think the turning point was Hack, but also the shift that DiSalvatore, Wellman, and O’Sullivan had," he continued. "Talking about, we want to get to the offensive zone and play our game, and those guys did that. And not only did they do that, but they scored a goal."

5. I asked Yeo about Patrick O'Sullivan's play since joining the Aeros after his demotion. The team's play has been improved since he joined the team, and Jon DiSalvatore has clearly benefited from having a guy like O'Sullivan to pair up with.

To me, the thing about guys like O'Sullivan is that you're never sure of what you're going to get. He's been in the NHL for awhile, and you don't know what his attitude is going to be like. Is he going to pout? Is he going to try and prove a point? How does he rub off on his teammates? I think we've been seeing the answer.

6. "I’ve been very impressed with his commitment to how we want to play the game," Yeo said of O'Sullivan. "There’s five instances tonight where he came back in our d-zone and tracked and broke up plays that might have been…for anyone who wants to say he’s not a good defensive player, he made several good defensive plays for us tonight."

7. That first goal was scored by Casey Wellman who had an impressive night, with the goal and a second period assist -- he lacked only the first to earn the Gordie Howe hat trick on the night when Gordie Howe was in the arena.

8. The second Aeros goal on the night was scored by Robbie Earl at 5:05 of the second period. Up at the press table, it appeared that Max Noreau took one of his standard 100-mph shots from the blue line that rebounded off of Texas goalie Richard Bachman staight to Earl who did not miss the open net. However, the scoring gave the first assist to Casey Wellman, and the second assist to Noreau, so maybe Wellman tipped the puck somewhere along the line.

9. Speaking of Robbie Earl, tonight was another impressive night from him. It's my thinking that while he's been having an all-around good season, he's really elevated his game the past month or so. So I asked Yeo about this, and Yeo said there had been a definite change since the Christmas break.

10. "I think he was getting a little bit worn down, not that he wasn’t good, but I wouldn’t say that he was as good," Yeo said. "I think his game has gone to another level. Coming out of Christmas he was focused. He came into the office and said what do I need to do, what do I need to do to take another step and be a leader on this team? He’s done it. He’s been a great leader for us going out and his work ethic has been phenomenal, first and foremost. And when the work ethic is there, the skill is going to follow."

11. Now for some bad news. The team's next three games are on the road. And Mr. Ferraro, down below, predicted that the Aeros would win two of the three, specifically, the games in Cleveland and Syracuse. That's a bad omen as, has been pointed out to me by a few people with the Aeros, whenever Andrew picks the team to win, they lose. So let's hope that Andrew's streak is broke and the team really does as he predicts.

12. I guess the Aeros have a new policy toward replays. Once again they didn't replay the video of a visiting team goal. This might not matter so much to those of you in the stands, but it is rather irritating to those of on press row as we want to see what happens on a goal. (Yes, I was down in the corner, but I didn't see a replay).

13. Okay, this is going to sound nuts, but...late in the third period, there was a play down by the Texas goal. I just happened to look up at the video board as action the turned back toward the Aeros goal at the other end. And I could swear that, for a brief second, I saw what appeared to be a still photo of cleavage, rather, cleavage covered by a black "Hooters" tank top. And by cleavage, I mean just the cleavage, no face, etc. Having worked in TV, I think I know what happened, the director hit the wrong button when switching between cameras and went to a still they had keyed up somewhere.

That said, I didn't get a photo of it, and neither Heather nor Andrew saw it, so I can't help but think that I imagined the whole thing. For the sake of my sanity, did anybody see anything like this on the video boards late in the game?

1 comment:

Forecheck said...

1) For the first 15 minutes or so, the thought going through my mind was "You guys did practice this week, right?".

2) Sully is every bit as important to this team as Kolanos was a few years back, so watch him get called up right at the playoff roster deadline.

3) DiSalvator is going to owe Sully a few dinners by the end of the season.

4) OK - big question of the night - why did Vinnerborg not allow Texas to take time out at face-off in their end right before the end of the game?