And that's what's different about this year's Aeros: I like them. I look forward to games. I feel like there's always a chance. I feel like these guys like each other and play for each other. They have a pulse.
And regardless of how similar this year's stats are to last year's at this time, I never felt that way last year. I didn't like the team, I didn't like watching them play, I felt like they were all a bunch of islands adrift on the ice. They meant well individually, but they never were a unit. No pulse, no spark, no passion.
Little things keep happening to endear me to this team, to give me a sense of its pulse. Hackett insisting on the start last Sunday. Earl, as I wrote a few days ago, getting so little recognition but still being a stud on a nightly basis. Guys stepping up for each other. Scoring (or at least scoring threats) coming from every line. Guys come up, come down, are in and out of the line-up, and it doesn't seem to rattle them or mess with the chemistry.
This is not a season of biding time. This is a meaningful season. This is a team I'd want to be on. That's about as big a compliment as I can give them. I hope my gut feelings about them are accurate, because if they are, I think regardless of what happens in the post-season, we'll all be left with good feelings about this squad.
On that note, let's look at some pictures:
|While I'm making my Sunshine Club speech, this pic from warmups seems to fit. DiSalvatore and McMillan all smiles and possibly doing a Vaudeville routine.|
|This situation usually doesn't end well for the goalie.|
|And in fact it did not end well for Mannino. Buck, who got the primary assist on DiSalvatore's goal, celebrates.|
|Tordjman has talents beyond goaltending. That's a quality spit stream, bud.|
|This was an unbelievable save by Mannino, sliding across to shut down this backdoor shot. Robbery!|
|God, I love this shot. Chad Rau ties it, bitches!|
|The band of brothers returns to work after celebrating the game tying goal.|