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?