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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Aeros turn things up a notch...

Monday was for intros and more players started trickling in on Tuesday. But today, the Aeros got down to business with a nice practice, followed by a break and then a hard-fought green vs. red scrimmage.

Just two days before their first preseason game against the OKC Barons, the Aeros worked through a little bit of everything. 2-on-1s, faceoffs, breakouts - you name it, they did it. And right now is the time when everyone looks big, everyone looks fast and everyone knows what they are doing with the puck.

Former Aeros defenseman Steve Jacques attended, and those words came right out of his mouth. I talked to Aeros PR guy Rich Bocchini and play-by-pay man Joe O'Donnell. All looked to be in mid-season form, based on the number of ice cream sandwiches missing from the inventory.

(I tried to get a picture of that, but I don't want to give away TOO many team secrets. Instead, I hope you like my arsty iPhone picture of the stick rack .... )

But on a serious note, Torch was raring to go and had the boys at a pleasing pace well before the first player left the ice.

"That was a really good pace we had out there today," said Torchetti. "We have to keep the guys sharp. I was really happy with them today. Right not is is about getting the systems down and seeing what the players can do."

Two guys that stood out to be were forward/defenseman Mike Hoffman and Mike Kramer. Both goaltenders looked good during the scrimmage, and unless I missed anything, Kuemper didn't let anything by for the green, including a great stop on Jon DiSalvatore.

Speaking of Sal, I talked to him before the scrimmage, and he said expectations are way up top for the team that includes a key group of returning players.

"All of the pieces are there, and then you add another year of maturity to our defensive core and our second and third-year guys," said DiSalvatore. "We’re all really excited about the personnel and the foundation."

The team will practice tomorrow, bus to OKC and spend the night. I assume they'll skate there Friday morning in advance of the first preseason game Friday night. I did not get a great look at the lineup, but it looks like the main veterans will be hanging back for this one.

A lot of the fringe guys, especially those on tryout, will get a chance to shot what they've got against the Barons.

A few assigned players had not yet made it done. Missing Wednesday were veteran Jeff Taffe and rookie Kris Foucault. Both are expected soon, and Foucault should be ready in time to catch the bus to OKC.

That is all for now; I look forward to hearing your thoughts and expectations for the 2011-12 team.


artandhockey said...

arsty pictures are all the rage these days! Good write up, new papa Andrew!

Forecheck said...

I'm not entirely sure what to think.

Screwy division - - none of the parent teams made the playoffs last season. Will the teams be good because of the chance to get the call, or decimated because of call ups, or both during the same season?

In the one Wild preseason game I saw they were awful. Of course they didn't have Heatly or Settiwhatshisname, but that didn't explain giving up four PPG on 12 shots. Or necessarily explain having trouble gaining the attack zone on a 5-on-3 power play (sound familiar? Seen it before somewhere?).

The Aeros lost a lot of offense in Sully (even though he misteriously vanished during the playoffs), Gilies, Robbie, JM, Max, et. al. We will probably lose Wellman and Almond part time, too.

The Aeros should be the same or better on defense and in net, though we will lose guys to Minny here too.

It looks like most of the young talent they were so hot to trot in front of the cameras during "Becoming Wild" won't be here for another year or even two. Don't count on Granlund being in an Aeros uniform at all (OK, at most 3-4 weeks). And that's assuming he even comes back from whatever KHL gig he reportedly signed up for.

Big question, can Torch teach this group to be honey badgers as well as Yeosy did? I assume that is the system Yeo wants run here.

So, without a real clear picture of what's going on elsewhere, I'll stick my finger hestantly into the wind and say around 5th or 6th in the conference....