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

Friday, January 6, 2012

View from the Pressbox - Aeros lose to AHL's worst

First, let's get one thing straight. I am not a hockey expert. I could write a book on the history of the Aeros, and I can tell you one hell of a game story. But outside of stats and stories, I'd be fairly worthless as a scout or a coach.

But I can tell when I am watching a team that has a few broken parts, and right now, the Aeros are a bit tattered and bruised. And my God, their record really masks the big picture.

This team, in its current state, is not capable of making a long run this Spring. Their special teams are weak, and they can't win at home. Last two games at Toyota Center? They have been outscored 10-1 in front of more than 17,000 fans.

That does not bring people back to the games.

The Aeros were outworked last Sunday. Simple as that. Friday night, they were outworked and they played dumb hockey. Torchetti first complimented the IceHogs on a very good game. And he was right, the last-place IceHogs - the worst team in the AHL - played a wonderful hockey game. Then he got down to business.


"We've got to get tougher mentally ... We're not mentally tough yet. "When you are asked to push, you have to find another level to your game. We're not finding it, and all the other teams are passing us right now."

Teams are passing them in in stats, they are passing them in how they've progressed since Day 1, and they are passing them on the ice and in the standings.

I know, I know ... they are still third in the division and it looks like they won't lose any ground in the division tonight. But they are not as good as their record right now, and anyone that really follows the team knows this.

Part of that is because of all of the call-ups, yes. But at least four times since Thanksgiving, Torchetti has called out the team for not being tough, and he did it again Friday. He even called out his veterans. He didn't say names, but Taffe, DiSalvatore, Ortmeyer were all below average Friday.

Here is some more from Torchetti.

"Right now, we are making mistakes when we don't need to ... our veterans have got to play better.

"And you are not going to win many games when you go six periods, and you've only got one goal. Sooner or later, our team is going to have to understand that we are not a goal-scoring team.

"You have to work harder, and you are going to have to get some more nicks and cuts and take a look in the mirror. That is the bottom line; we're just not working."

Torchetti said that kind of passiveness led to the IceHogs first goal. I didn't see who did it, and he didn't say, but instead of taking a hit and getting the puck out, a player took the easy way out and dumped it in. Moments later, the IceHogs had their first goal after Hackett allowed one of two softies Friday.

The Aeros had a closed-door meeting after the game tonight to care care of what Torchetti called a "film session." I can't go into particulars, but if you want to see if it made a difference, be sure to make your way over to San Antonio Sunday. That game will be telling either way.

The Aeros are a good team with a well-above average record, and there is still plenty of time to turn things around at home. Let's hope they grow a little more in the next six weeks or so.


artandhockey said...

we ARE expecting a win at a
NOT-at-Home game :-).
photos and brief post will appear on Monday, after our return!

Forecheck said...

Thanks, Aeros, for making the worst team in the AHL look like one of the Red Army teams of old!

As a season ticket holder who is paying well over $1000 this season to watch this garbage, I think I have some sort of justification in sounding off regarding how UNACCEPTABLE the home game situation is now and has been most of this season.

What the fans are being treated to almost nightly is :

1 – A team that sleep walks through at least half its home games. Or at least the first 55 minutes of the game. Yes, they do sometimes wake up after the game is already all but lost.

2 – A team that on most home nights generates zero offensive pressure on their “power” play, assuming they can even enter the attack zone.

3 – A team that frequently forgets to play defense, leaving their goalies out to dry like this morning's wet laundry. Not that goalies are blameless, either.

4 - A team that more often than not passes to the other team, or nobody. And oh, yes – all those great shots squarely into the other goalie's belly.

5 – Team “leaders” (if there are any), coaches, and management types who are clueless about how to fix things at home apart from suggesting that maybe they need to stay at a hotel.

Tonight, as on Sunday, what little entertainment value people in my section might have gotten was from verbally mocking the Aeros' ineptitude. Given the 10-1 combined losses, they have had plenty of material. And some of them are fairly creative.

Admittedly, this team isn't as talented as the team that finished last season. But they aren't 10-1 untalented as is demonstrated by their road record. What is therefore lacking is either:

Incentive – there should be plenty with all the call-ups, unless the guys are considering them a birthright.

On- ice leadership. Possibly. Maybe we need a new C and As. DiSalvatore certainly hasn't been any help and is just as bad as any of them regarding his home-ice performance. Same with Bagnall and whoever picked up the other A from Peters.

Off-Ice discipline/leadership – don't have any data, but since this is a home thing, it could be a BIG problem. Has this team become Party Central like it did during the 60ish points season a few years ago?

Coaching – another possibility. Is Torch able to get through to these guys? Or is he simply clueless?
Maybe a trade/demotion or two of the worst offenders would send the message. I mean what happened to all the honey badgers from last season???

Anyway, how can the Aeros/Wild management suggest we continue to support the team as before when the product they deliver to the TC ice makes giving the cat a bath look like fun by comparison? An apology to the fans is overdue, but not sufficient. They need to fix it NOW. They also need to remember that season ticket renewals are not automatic. They have to be earned.

Anonymous said...

Have the Aeros forgotten how to check? I see glimmers of hope at times. I think they're all worried about staying healthy until they get the (what appears to be the obligatory) call up for a cup of coffee. Show some work ethic on both ends of the ice. Disclaimer: I've never donned ice skates and pads and taken a hit but I don't get paid for that either.

Forecheck said...

Good point, Anon. The only way to counter the "playing not to get hurt" is to make them understand that playing it safe means playing in the ECHL.

B2Bomber said...

Robyn and I went to see our first game of the year last night and to say the least we were disturbed by the play we witnessed. Where was the forecheck? Why were they playing so soft on defense? Hitting? Applying pressure? I remarked on the way home to her that maybe it was a good decision to forgo season tickets this year due to her layoff. Sad, sad, sad.

Walleye said...

Seven wins out of twenty home games is unacceptable. This year's home games have been downright boring!

Poor puck posession, poor passing, no forecheck, no physical play, no speed & a horrible power play. If it weren't for our goaltending it would be beyond disastorous.

I know Patrick O'Sullivan did little defensively however, he opened up the ice for the rest of the team. There is nobody on this roster with his speed, puck handling skills or anyone who can finish.

Worst of all, I see no heart from this team.