Ahhh.... everything is better in life when your team plays well and gets a decisive victory over a rival like the Stars. Your problems are a little smaller, your hair looks a little better, you feel a little smarter. It's been a tough week at Casa Conduct, so I appreciated this game tonight more than I expected to.
Mainly because I really thought the Aeros were in trouble this weekend. Luckily, they benefited from a week of practice time together and a little bit of rest and healing up and they were more cohesive than I can remember them being in a while. It helped that the Stars played into their hands and let the Aeros dictate the pace (except for those 12 minutes in the second that Andrew mentioned where the Aeros DIDN'T dictate the pace).
And how nice to see Ortmeyer back. Can we sign him to a "until you retire" deal? I think Torchetti would agree; as Andrew mentioned, he said a lot of really nice things about Orts and DiSalvatore after the game that I'll share a little later.
And Hackett... boy was he a confident one tonight. Entertaining to watch him be so loose. Reminds me of the couple of games after Khudobin was traded. Just had this extra kick in his game that's both sexy and terrifying. Shades of Brusty. That's pure compliment.
Didn't love Medvec's misplaced, post-whistle chippiness as he played forward, but thankfully the ref was calling almost nothing tonight (bless you!), so it didn't come back to bite him. Careful...
How freaking sick was that Rau goal?! Nasty nasty nasty. He deked 3 defenders and the goalie practically to Pasadena on that thing. It was a master class in absolutely taking over a moment in a game and just shoving it right up their noses.
And then Kassian with a laser right over Besko's blocker side. Nice shot, and no reaction from Besko to stick an elbow up or something. Guess he though Kass couldn't aim. Wrong-orowany, big guy.
Finally, yay for all the teddy bear tossing fans. Damn, that's so much fun. I pleaded with the ice crew to just leave the bears and let them pile up for a bit so we could enjoy the spectacle but I didn't win that argument. I guess the game has to go on. Fiiiine.
Before I forget, Wednesday's game is the Bikini/Miss Aeros/Whatever game, so if you're into that sort of thing, come see the tall blonde one win, like the tall blonde one always does. My favorite part is the always insightful interview portion of the evening.
"What do you like best about Houston Aeros hockey?"
"ALL THESE AWESOME FANS!!!! WOOO!!!!"
Anyway, here are those quotes I promised from the always wonderful Coach Torchetti.
On Matt Kassian's goal streak:
"He's got to understand that he's got to be able to play. I mean, tough guys have to play in the NHL; they just can't play 3 minutes or 2 minutes. They have to be effective on the walls, they have to forecheck, they have to chip pucks deep, and that's what we're trying to get him to understand now. It's time for him to really be a 2-way player and be a tough guy, too... He's playing a lot of minutes, and he deserves it because he's working his butt off."
On Jed Ortmeyer:
"He's everything that a Houston Aero is. Character, he's a leader, he's physical. He does every little job possible and never says a word. Low maintenance, high character and just a great player to teach. And that's what he brings every night and that's what all these young guys should learn to be like, just like him."
On Jon DiSalvatore and his lack of scoring, but still playing as well as ever (after trying to figure out who "Jon" was that Andrew was asking about. "I don't know him as Jon, I know him as Sal"):
"Sal is what Orts is but he's got a C on his shirt. He's not worried about points. He knows that we need him to be a real strong defensive player, and he plays the system to a T, and that's all you can ask of your captain.
I know I probably take away points because I want him to play more defensively and, he doesn't have to worry about points. We know what he does on and off the ice. He's unbelievable in the locker room, and he keeps that locker room real straight.
And he keeps everybody understanding that, you know what, it's a privilege to play here. You don't just show up and win a hockey game. You have to play hard every night. We're trying to build our team towards the playoffs. So we want to play that type of hockey every night. That's the commitment that we get and you can tell it's because of our leaders."
That's it folks. The boys are leaving bright and early for OKC tomorrow, then back to Houston for Sunday afternoon's game vs. Rochester. Haven't seen those guys much, so it will be fun to get a gander at the Amerks.