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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2/22/11 -- Aeros Sunk By Admirals, Lose 5-4

Milwaukee celebrates the first score of the game.

I'm not going to waste a lot of space on this game, a 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Admirals that came about after the Aeros had a 4-2 third period lead. Mike Yeo kept the team locked up in the locker room for a long time after the game -- he kept them locked up way longer than Kevin Constantine ever did after a loss, and Kevin had a bit of a reputation for ripping into players.

So here are a few brief observations...

1. Patrick O'Sullivan pulled off a Krys Kolanos tonight, and that's not meant as a compliment. He had two goals -- one on a beautiful breakaway off of a good defensive play by Justin Falk -- and he assisted on Warren Peter's goal in the third. However, O'Sullivan forget to put forth much, if any, effort on defense, and he drew several really stupid penalties in the third period as the team was melting down.

2. It's easy to look at the score and say that Anton Khudobin had a bad game. It's easy, but that's not totally accurate. Milwaukee's second goal came about after Jamie Fraser got his stick on a puck and deflected a shot past Khudobin. Milwaukee's third goal came from Falk screening Khudobin. The fourth goal came after Khudobin blocked a shot, only to have Kris Fredheim get in the way and have the puck bounce off of his chest and into the net. And Khudobin blocked the fifth goal, only to have it rebound past him and just kind of rest on the line while Aero after Aero flailed away hopelessly at the puck.

3. The Aeros really melted down in the third period and it sure looked like, from the press box, that they just lost their composure. If I had been the coach, I would have called a time out after that fourth goal, the one that bounced off of Fredheim, and tried to calm the team down. I thought of asking Yeo about this after the game, but, well, after the long wait, I just wanted to get some general comments so I could go up and get my story written for the mothership.

4. The lines have changed. Carson McMillan/Jed Ortmeyer/Colton Gillies were the starting line. Patrick O'Sullivan/Jon DiSalvatore/Warren Peters were the second. Robbie Earl/Chad Rau/Jarod Palmer were line three, and Matt Kassian/JM Daoust/Brandon Buck were the fourth.

5. The team was incredibly hot in January. It was inevitable they would cool down and lose a few games. So I wouldn't stress out, yet. This happens to all teams -- after all, the Aeros would have never risen up the standings, no matter how good they played, if the teams in front wouldn't have lost a few. That said, the Aeros can't afford to go into a prolonged slump.


Anonymous said...

what a frustrating loss! I have to say i am not in complete agreement with you on O'Sullivan. He played with a level of intensity, speed and skill that was a step above everyone else on the ice imo. He had so many chances offensively and he set up some good opportunities for other players. He was actively engaged tonight but had a few ugly moments as well.
The first two penalties were in the offensive zone, and although i thought the calls could have gone either way, you still can't take those. The third was on a very good defensive effort from him, so i am not really upset at all about that one.
There were some turnovers that were frustrating. He lost the puck on that second goal and didn't make any effort to retrieve it. The game winning goal, he and Jon needed to get that puck out of there. Sure Anton didn't control the puck but not a lot of conviction from those two to get it our there. Not sure if it was bouncing and they couldn't get a handle on it.

Forecheck said...

I'm not sure I agree about Sully either. I don't think he was brought here to be a defensive force. I think that was part of his NHL problem, as well as being "weak on the boards". Sully is here to provide much needed offense and stick skills.

Two of the penalties on Sully were really bad calls. It's amazing how in these two ref games the number of bad calls seems to , ah, double.

The third period melt-down was just inexcuseable. You can't just stop playing because you are two goals up or have a bad goal scored on you.

I'm just wondering how much of the guys' behinds are left intact this morning after Yeo got done with them after the game.

ICEVET said...

Serious Aeros fans know that Sully is the ONLY reason last night's final score was not 5-1. His dominant, aggressive and skillful play has inspired and set the Bar for the rest of the Team.

Along the way, Sully has attracted a LOT OF ATTENTION from opponents (who have increased the number and intensity of hits on him) and officials who are riveted on his dominant ice-presence (one reason for the number "bad" penalties called against him). AND this problem will only get worse until season end.

Andrew Ferraro has correctly identified the Admirals as the BEST team in the West (which organization brings a "rich" legacy of outstanding performance to the AHL, year-after-year.

That said, fans should focus on how well Milwaukee played and not on how poorly the Aeros might have played, last night. To be sure, a very good hockey team can often make an opponent (even a good one) look very bad on any given night.

Again (even if no one wants to hear it), the Admirals were very efficient on their special teams and PP opportunities (2/5...could have been 4/5, without some good saves by Anton Khudobin), while the Aeros wasted all but 1 (Sully's bullet shot) of their 7 opportunities, nearly coughing up another short-handed score, with a helter-skelter PK. Indeed, the Admirals put on a clinic for the Aeros with their PP movement, passing, positioning, zone entry, puck control, and careful shot selection.

Finally, the empty house (<3,000) did nothing to support the (first place) Team. As a ardent Aeros fan, it is very disappointing to see the lack of interest (attendance, blog comments, etc) in this Team, which represents the fourth largest US City.

Go Aeros!!

John Royal said...

Excuse me for offending your delicate sensibilities. The entire team played like crap, and Icevet, Milwaukee did not play excellent hockey last night. If Milwaukee had played excellent hockey last night then the Aeros would not have been winning by two goals in the third goal.

And I disagree with all about O'Sullivan. I've written many nice things about him since he's been here. But when he has a bad game, I'm not going to let him off the hook.

Anonymous said...

The lack of attendance is sad for the guys, but it's well earned by a front office staff that ignores and abuses the season ticket holder. Fans that have gone to other arenas and seen how other hockey clubs treat their patrons know how poorly they are treated by the current clowns running the Aeros. Those that have been season ticket holders long enough don't even have to go somewhere else, they know the difference between being appreciated (something we had a long history of in Houston that is now gone completely) and how the Aeros front office chooses to treat those that pay their salary.

So the attendance will dwindle, until the next fad hits and they pull some stunt to get fannies in the seats. There are many REAL fans of the sport that are tired of being treated poorly and have decided that their money is better spent elsewhere.

I can't think of too many businesses that are successful treating their customers the way the Aeros treat their best customers. Eventually the Aeros will realize there are limits to what even hockey fans will tolerate.

So don't cry about low attendance, it's exactly what is deserved.

Unsportsmanlike said...

I don't see a conflict between saying O'Sullivan played "a step above everyone else on the ice" and saying he had a bad game. "Everyone else" (on the Aeros' side), with few exceptions, just played that poorly. I found myself admiring him for persevering in keeping his energy level up and his attitude aggressive; rather than being dragged down to the lethargy of his teammates, he seemed to occasionally succeed in reminding them there was still hockey to be played.

Earl sparked up once or twice, but couldn't seem to keep up his energy in the face of general team apathy the way O'Sullivan did. Noreau struggled, doing some things very right and failing sloppily at others, but at least seemed consistently sensible that he needed to step up. Khudobin started off badly, but dealt better with the poor play around him than I've come to expect.

The rest of them... what sucked the heart out of this team? I know they had a few stretches of good pressure around the Admirals' net but kept getting bad breaks, and that had to be discouraging, but that doesn't explain the way elderly pizza-parlor animatronics would have played livelier hockey opening the game.

Regarding Icevet's comments about attendance, I can point out that I see very little being done to promote the team outside its current fanbase or existing fans of the game itself, compared to advertisement of other sports. (I've always found it telling that every time I buy a large drink and bring a souvenir cup home from the hockey game, the cup advertises a basketball team.) Result? I have two tickets to several games this year and have been literally unable to give the second seat away. Many of the friends I invite respond, "We have a hockey team? Since when?"

Anonymous said...

How serious does one have to be to be considered a serious Aeros fan? Attendence does not necessarily reflect lack of interest. Difficult to attend a Tuesday game when we must leave after work, drive for an hour and a half plus, attend game, drive back home for an hour and a half plus, finally get home, grab a quick sleep, and then up at 4:30am to prepare for work. Maybe that is lack of support for the Aeros but unfortunately I must place a few of life's priorities in front of attending every Aeros home game. Now, get some ice girls out there and I'll consider reprioritizing.

John Royal said...

Regarding the attendance last night. It's nice to see all of you still bitching, as always, about the ticket office and marketing folks. However...

I was actually pleased with the attendance last night, especially with it being a midweek game. And this isn't just an Aeros problem. If you pay any attention to the AHL, you would want to know that the reason there teams throughout the league pushing for the 70/72 game schedule would be so as to do away with the midweek games because those games are attendance killers.

Re the use of Rockets cups at concessions. Once again, take your binder that keeps up your hatred of the Aeros business folks. In case you didn't know, the Aeros rent the facility from the Houston Rockets. The Rockets run the place. Every event you go to at Toyota Center will have drink cups with Rockets logos on it.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

Whoa people ... can't we all just get along?


Let us all be considerate of everyone's opinions and thoughts. This is for both commenters and writers, alike.

We all have different takes on the game, and that is the great thing about this blog ... we can all express those freely.

This is the end of the blog police for today ... ha.

Verification word is elitcuss.


B2 said...

I'm one of those who has been around long enough to see a dramatic change in how the STH has been treated over the last several years. This year has not been the exception.

The boys let down in the third. It's over and nothign is going to give them a "W". It's history and let's move on.

Anonymous said...

@B2 - I'm betting it's not as obvious to those that have never paid for a ticket. I can bet Royal would complain loud and long if he were paying for tickets - he complains about enough other stuff.