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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Aeros Embarrassed by Chicago, Lose 5-3

Okay, I know what the AHL website says, but seriously, I just watched the Aeros play tonight, and they did not look like a playoff team to me. They looked like a team that's been eliminated from the chase and just doesn't give a damn.

The Chicago Wolves took the 5-3 win tonight in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. They kicked the collective asses of the Aeros in every way imaginable. Matt Hackett was run midway through the second period -- not all entirely Hackett's fault as his defense and the penalty kill were non-existent, but he did lose his composure and Max Noreau and Warren Peters were not able to calm him down though they tried at various points during the game.

Mike Yeo was not very happy after the game. Yeo's usually mild and somewhat measured with his words after games (at least compared to Kevin Constantine), but despite his best efforts, his anger and disappointment with his team were evident.

So I figured, instead of me sitting here and describing what happened, why not just let Yeo do it. So...

ON THE TEAM'S HORRENDOUS EFFORT

"We had a handful of guys that were ready to battle the right way, but we had way too many that weren’t. I don’t think we put three good plays in a row together because of that. If one guy goes out and he’s working hard, and they’ve got five guys on the ice every time, you’re not going to be too successful. I just chalk that one up to not being ready to battle, not being ready to play with the type of urgency you need in a hockey game, especially against a team that’s playing for their playoff lives right now, and they showed it tonight."

HANGOVER FROM HAVING CLINCHED A PLAYOFF SPOT

"We were afraid of it, and we talked about it, but I said in the coach’s room before the game, I’m anxious to see how we come out tonight because your fear is we’re going to do exactly as we did. Having said that, we have to understand that we have things to play for. Just because there’s an “x” besides our name doesn’t mean all is good and right.

"It would have been nice to win this game and to go into Milwaukee and have the chance to play for first place. We’ve got to make sure we win hockey games to give ourselves a chance at home ice advantage. For me, again, the biggest thing is, I don’t want to keep playing hockey games like this and then try to flip a switch once the playoffs come. And that’s something the players have to understand. I’ve got to keep saying it, but at some point they’re going to have to believe me and start taking action or else we’re going to have to put it to test in the playoffs."


CONTINUED AWFUL PLAY OF DEFENSE AND PENALTY KILL

"Brutal. First of all, we’re taking way too many penalties. We talk about it before the game then we go out and take three straight penalties to start the game against a team, you give them power plays, they get into the game, they feel good about themselves, and I think we’re taking bad penalties, too. We’re taking lazy penalties. We’re not moving our feet. We’re hooking guys. We’re holding guys. We’re not going back for pucks. We’re slow on pucks. We’re just taking undisciplined penalties. That’s got to stop.

"Defensively it’s not even good enough. It’s not even close to being good enough right now. We’re giving up – what, have we given up 14 goals in the last three games, for a team that usually – pretty seldom gives up two in a game. It’s just a matter of commitment, of urgency, of battle level. Obviously the penalty killing is going to have to pick it up big time."


IS THIS A WAKE UP CALL

"It’s going to be interesting. We’ve been able to push that button a lot this year, but again, if it doesn’t come from within, if the players don’t see it as – if they don’t see a reason for us to start playing hard before the playoffs come, then it’s going to be more of this. More of this. And maybe we go hard tomorrow, and Saturday it’s the same thing. I really hope that that’s not the case.


"If we keep going like this, one good game, one bad game, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to lose in the first round of the playoffs, but it – you don’t set yourself up to give yourselves the best chance, which is what we want to do."


MISCELLANEOUS NOTES AND COMMENTS

1. The return of Matt Kassian to the lineup can't come soon enough. It's obvious that the rest of the division has figured out that the Aeros don't have an enforcer, and the play is getting really physical. Pascal Morency will fight, but he just doesn't have that physical ability to make a person hurt that Kassian does.

2. That said, Yeo told us that Kassian was being checked out by the doctors tonight, and if all goes well, he'll be playing with the team this weekend. He is definitely making the trip.

3. Nate Prosser lost some teeth when he got creamed in the first period, and he wore a cage over his face after he returned to action.

4. Forecheck, this is a note from me to you. I have tended to disagree with you about the officiating in the AHL. My thinking has been that you've got to expect some uneven officiating in a developmental league. But that said...my god, is there nobody in the AHL that knows how to officiate a game? I thought the crap I saw over the weekend was bad, but Jamie Koharski lost control of this game as soon as the puck was dropped to start the game, and he never made any attempt to regain control.

Yes, I like physical games, and yes, I like games that don't have a lot of penalties, but damn, this game tonight wasn't just physical, it was one team that was allowed to beat the crap out of another team without any fear of penalty.

5. Speaking of which, just what does it say about Jeff Penner's game tonight that he was called for three penalties in the first period? Do you know how hard it is to get Koharski to blow a whistle? But those penalties were so blatantly obvious that he had no choice but to send Penner to the box.

6. Mr. Hackett. I understand your displeasure with your defense, and with the officiating -- both have been sorely lacking recently. May I suggest you contact a family law attorney and see if there is someway you can sue for spousal support because they sure appear to have abandoned you.

7. If Robbie Earl, Chad Rau, and Jarrod Palmer don't show up tonight, just how bad is the final score?

8. If this is the first Aeros game you've attended this year, are you asking yourself how it was that the Aeros were able to win 44 games this season?

6 comments:

Forecheck said...

Dear Houston Aeros –

Congratulations for making the playoffs for the eigth time in ten AHL seasons! You guys have come a long way since the beginning of this season thanks to your hard work, some great coaching , and some timely moves by the front office. Now, the individual awards are starting to come in, too.

After watching your play Thursday, I have to wonder if your success will continue or if you will decide to let it simply slip away into late-April tee times. I didn’t see much playoff fire in your bellies and even less after the opening goal. You might say, “Well, we were playing a desperate team”, and in this you are correct – but rest assured everybody but Milwaukee and Rockford are desperate now. Furthermore, this is the kind of desperation/intensity you will see from everybody, every night, in the playoffs. You had better find yours and bring it EVERY NIGHT.

Please don’t make the mistake of thinking your recent success is a guarantee of future succcess. It isn’t. Also don’t think you can win on talent alone, for as the Herb Brooks character said in “Miracle”, “you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone”. That’s not an insult, it is generally a fact of life in hockey, and even more so this time of the season.

In case you didn’t do the math, their 18 first period shots is at the rate of 54 per game, your four shots is at the rate of twelve. Who can win a game outshot 54 to 12?

Also, you need to fix your pathetic PK and fast. Special teams are even more important in the playoffs and right now your PK is an express ticket to an early exit. You can kill penalties – remember back early in the season you were actually quite good at this. But lately it’s like you take some “weak pills” before leaving the bench. That’s what many of the clearing attemps are lately – simply physically weak. I think part of the problem is simply intensity or the lack of it. The PK is not entirely an intellectual exercise or executing a plan. It takes a dogged sense of determination, too.

Hack broke his stick in frustration tonight. You guys are lucky he didn’t break it over one of you. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he did.

I hate to be negative near the end of a much better season, but I simply have not liked a lot of what I have seen from you in the last five games or so. Even the wins against the Barons some great play was marred by taking your foot off their throat and letting them get back into games.

Hopefully you guys will get back on track and finish with a good weekend by beating Milwaukee and Chicago, then have a good week of practice resulting in your going into the final game and playoffs both well-rested and well-honed.

But I am also concerned about you.

Chris Jerina said...

Why is it that the Wolves seem to be able to outplay the Aeros every game this year?

The Aeros are 2-3 against Chicago, and one of those wins (the SO win in Chicago) should have been a Wolves win if they had instant replay.

Had a chance to watch the game on TV thanks to the Wolves televising all home & road games... ugly game, just ugly. Seemed like Robbie Earl was the only player trying, not just because he scored, but no one else seemed to be able to even possess the puck without losing it.

artandhockey said...

And then there was Penner as in
PEN(alty box)!
That's when the slide started IMO.
Much too early.
And yes, some officiation was not quite kosher.
Or were the Wolve Pack simply 'lucky' in inciting some re-action by Aeros. And Aeros 'unlucky' to be caught when reacting and so, on to the box?

B2 said...

Hack must have thought he was getting an early "April Fools" joke played on him. Shame on the Aeros!! Two referees were on the ice but only one blew the whistle so why have two? Brutally bad game.....

Forecheck said...

A few comments not directed at the team follow.
 
1)      This game supports my contention that two-referee games aren’t necessarily better officiated than single ref games. It certainly doesn’t improve things if both refs are incompetents. Do you really want Jamie/Terry Koharski teaming up with Jean Hebert to ref your game?
 
We’ve been having a really rough stretch of officiating lately, even by the rather  low  officiating standards of the AHL. Hopefully this is just dumb luck, but it certainly isn’t helping.
 
2)      At the risk of being deleted by John, in “The Aeros are a minor league outfit” department, why do you have a song contest going on with loud music and a loud and annoying PA announcer when one of your guys is down and possibly suffering from a serious injury? Have some class, people!
 
Also, when you run a text trivia game, make sure you know the right answer before putting the contest up on the screen with none of the answers being correct. Shades of “Roudiest Fan of the Game”
 
 

Chris Jerina said...

Forecheck... don't worry, its not just Houston being inept for song choice when there's injuries. In Chicago, there was a collision between a Wolves player and a ref that had both down for a couple minutes and they played Taylor Swift's "Love Story" the entire time... ouch.