Houston played 4 of the last 5 nights.
And tonight, the last game for both teams for several days (thankfully, for them and for those who have to watch them), displayed every bit of the fatigue you'd expect from teams at this point in their schedules.
Physically, they looked a tired and mentally, they looked downright exhausted.
The injury list is as long as I've seen it, not only this year but in recent years. The Wild are banged up, so Wellman and Peters are there and not coming back any time soon (#reversejinx). Add that to the Aeros injury woes (Cuma, Kassian, Almond, Fraser, Penner, Gillies, Bagnall) and basically you've got essentially only 3 lines of forwards to roll.
"I'm not gonna say that we couldn't have done something better. I'm not going to just completely make an excuse here," said Yeo. "But the biggest thing that I've seen this year is that these games, these third games in three nights, these fourth game in five nights, it's not even the energy level as much as it is the brain."
He acknowledged that essentially some of the mistakes that led to goals aren't "something we do" and attributed those instances to fatigue.
I kind of appreciate that he's not throwing the "we don't make excuses" line at us. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that clearly the effort was there but humans do succumb to the physical and mental rigors at some point.
You could argue Abbotsford isn't as good a team as Houston, and you'd be right, but as I mentioned, missing 1/3rd of the regular team means this Houston team just isn't as good as we're used to. It's like cutting a guy's arm off and telling him to do all the stuff he used to just as capably.
You're also missing a lot of toughness with Kassian and Bagnall out, but I have to commend 5'10" call-up Pascal Morency for his temerity in fighting 6'7" defenseman Chris Breen, who had 30 pounds on the scrappy winger. Breen's not a fighter and Morency was crafty and kept it even just through experience and determination.
That said, Morency, Lawrence (who was called up yesterday from Stockton), and Joel Broda had a whopping 11:31 of ice time combined. And missing that 4th line that can play 6 or 7 minutes is wearing out the regulars.
So this will be an important week of rest and recuperation. Yeo said he hopes to have Bagnall, Almond, and Gillies (upper body) back by Friday. Anyone of them would be a significant add. All three would be heaven sent.
Yeo said that he expects, after getting some rest and getting some practice time, "these games that are 50-50 right now or 60/40, we'll flip it more to 75/25 in our favor and that's when you more."
"It's how you respond. You can win a game like this and feel really good about yourself, and then have a crappy week of practice and stink it up next weekend. So hopefully we use this as motivation to make sure we bounce back."
The boys are off until Friday when they have a weekend series against Manitoba, who are tied for first in the North Division.
Couple of other notes:
- That nice buffer between Houston and Texas is gone now. A win tomorrow against Syracuse puts them in a tie for second with Houston. We're all up against each other again, but not in a fun way.
- With his two goals tonight, Jon DiSalvatore became only the third active player in the AHL to have 8 seasons of 20+ goals. Other two are Denis Hamel (who has 9 seasons at 20+) and Alexandre Giroux.