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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Game Day, Aeros vs. Texas; It's time to step up

Normally I don't get a chance to go to Toyota Center for the morning skate, but something made me detour on the way to work. I watched the skate and then talked to Torch after the 60-minute workout. A few things stick out in advance of tonight's game against the Texas Stars.

First, we addressed last weekend, when the Aeros were bombed 10-2 by OKC and San Antonio. The scores weren't as bad as the games, but in the first game, a bad first goal led to another and before you knew it ... boom.

"We were fine in OKC, came out shooting, up 8-2 in shots; we were detailed, and then we don’t stay on the point with our execution on a forecheck," said Torchetti. "Boom, they get a goal on wrist shot from just inside the blueline, and then they score on the power play. Whatever they are shooting is going in right now, and whatever we’re doing is just letting it in. That is tough."

As for San Antonio?

"I think we played well enough to win in San Antonio, but again," said Torch. "We had three bad breakdowns."

And they aaaallllll ended up in the net.

"What do you mean Matt can't hack it? He is the (f**king)
bomb up in this place ... He will score three goals tonight."
We also talked about Hackett's numbers and his recent propensity for allowing at least one bad goal every game since, well, since he was sent back down from Minnesota. Torchetti defended his sophomore goalie, and said the wins will come again.

"At the beginning of the year, Hack pretty much won us a bunch of games," said Torch. "And I don’t even think he even got No. 1 player for our team. Everyone just said, 'Oh, it’s just Hack, he doesn’t deserve a helmet (the prize the Aeros give to their player of the game) for just being himself.'

"But then, when we’re not winning, it’s, 'Oh, Hack let in a soft one.' It’s a two-way street. We have to button down, too, for him."

Torch, as he does so often, then went on a bit of a tangent ... He went from talking about Hackett being able to win games for the team to challenging the veterans on the team to step up and score a big (and timely) power play goal tonight.

And that set up the next topic rather nicely. Jeff Taffe.

In 14 games since New Year's, he has not scored a goal and he's minus-11. He's down to minus-17 (17!) and if my notes are right, there are only two guys in the entire league worse off. Taffe is not minus-17 player. But it will only get worse if some shots don't start going in for him, and if he continues to let up (defensively) during critical times of the game.

Taffe, who hits more posts than anyone since Steve Kelly, needs to shoot the puck more. And that is exactly what Torchetti said.

"It’s a situation for him that, one, you want to get out of the scoring slump," said Torchetti. "To do that, you have to put the puck on the net more, which we’ve talked about.

"He is a big part of our success, and I am putting some pressure on him; I have to. I know he can do it, though. He will come through. It just seems that everyone is slumping at the same time."

Re-read that last line. Not only is everyone slumping at the same time, there is almost no-one left in the lineup. The depth is gone, and team confidence is at all all-time low ... for this season.

Make no mistake, tonight is a huge game. The Aeros desperately need a win, and they need to do it at home. They've just one win at Toyota Center since Dec. 16. They've won just three of their last 14 games at home (even though they do have points in seven of their 11 losses).

My gut says no tonight and yes to Saturday and Sunday. I just have a feeling the weekend could go really well, but it's nothing more than a hunch.

Hopefully my prediction for tonight will smack off the post and land in the corner for what fans really want - a Houston Aeros victory.


Forecheck said...

First periofd over. First bad goal given up by you know who.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

Nah - I respectfully disagree. The puck was deflected by Garbutt. Changed direction.

Forecheck said...

Didn't see the tip.

HUGE brain fart by Raycroft,