This was the worst game I've seen them play at least since the new year. All that great puck possession, winning battles, compete-compete-compete.... none of those were there in any useful amount today. They looked like--god forbid--last season's Aeros. Apart from maybe 3 or 4 shifts where they looked like the Aeros you and I know, it was just sloppy hockey.
Nate Prosser talked to media after the game and said he didn't think it was nerves rattling the boys, but Yeo was pretty definitive in his opinion that it was. I tend to agree with Yeo, or I should say, both of them. Even if there weren't more conscious nerves than they usually get before games, they just seemed to be trying too hard to be pretty all game and losing battles all game long.
But I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were a bit worn out, both mentally and physically. I can imagine the attention and busy schedule for the guys when they're in Minny for such a short time is challenging, especially at the end of a road trip. And Prosser said he, Rau and Palmer, all Minnesota boys, were particularly innundated with interviews and, I'm sure family and whatnot. Lots to cram into 2 days.
I don't see this game as a big deal though. This team has proven what it can do over and over again at this point. They'll be fine when they get back in their regular routine. I think they know that, too. Prosser seemed very at ease and in good spirits after the game and knowing the character of the team, I'd guess that's the vibe in the rest of the room.
The only thing that should leave anybody with a lasting heavy heart is the awful-looking injury to defenseman Tyler Cuma. Russo is reporting tonight that he tore his ACL and will have to undergo reconstructive surgery. Out 6 months.
It was an awful looking thing, too. Here's a pic of him after taking a shoulder, going airborne, and then basically just falling in a heap to the ice. His upper body was moving so you knew it wasn't head or anything. But he was deliberately not moving his legs.
|Tyler Cuma takes a hit and ends his season. Photo by Chris Jerina|
I'm not a crier but I had to fight back tears. Not only because I feel all maternal about these young guys, but also because, as Yeo said, Cuma in particular has had so much adversity due to injuries in his short career, was coming along really well, and now this.
You just hate to see it. And it's not like he plays a recklessly physical style. He's just a good, solid, stay at home d-man. With terrible, terrible luck.
And while I'm on pictures, here's a shot of the lone Aeros goal scorer today, Cody Almond. Houston had 7 power play chances, including two 5-on-3 chances, and that was the only conversion.
|Cody Almond, goal scorer. Photo by Chris Jerina|
It wasn't any chippier than usual against Peoria, but there was a fight early on between Kassian and Peluso. They're so similarly sized, though, that neither could get much traction on the other. I'd say Kassian landed more clean blows, plus he's ours, so he earned the win.
|Big Matt Kassian lands a punch on big Anthony Peluso. Photo by Chris Jerina|
|People you may know riding a hollowed out Zamboni. Photo by Chris "Boom Boom" Jerina|