For the first time in a long time, I'm having trouble letting this game go. It felt off-kilter from the start, some of which I blame on this being a travel day for the Aeros and they didn't seem ready to play until the second period.
And perhaps some of it was the sparse crowd. And actually that's a compliment to the Aeros that a sparse crowd felt strange. We've been spoiled by big, loud, energetic crowds much of the season, so a regular ol' Thursday night crowd was just lower energy in the building than I'm used to.
It was also odd having Hackett back. Even though it really hasn't been that long, the games since since he was called up have seemed so important that time drags a little bit. Anyway, it was nice to have a familiar name in the crease, and moreover, it was nice to see him playing a really amped game.
He was playing the puck confidently, drawing penalties, and getting into the game more physically than goalies tend to need to do. But it showed an engagement in the process that I know I liked and was missing at times this season (and I LOL'd at more than once because I just enjoy the hell out of a feisty goalie), but Coach Torchetti said he likes it, too, and felt like Hack was still focused on the right things when it mattered.
I'm not sure I agree with that entirely, but I also think, as John mentioned, defensive support was lacking on every single goal, and it's those details that will eat away at you. Wouldn't have put any of those goals on Hackett tonight.
Though I admit to being broken-hearted when Desjardins wouldn't accept Hack's invitation to a center ice tilt after that big scrum at the end of overtime (that Hack started by punching one of their guys in the face for some reason). I'm not really a bucket list person but seeing a goalie fight in person is way up there. I think Desjardins would have gotten the crap kicked out of him though, as cranked up as Hack was, so probably a smart move to just carry on.
I asked Fontaine after the game if all those great chances around the net not going in gets frustrating or if it fuels them a bit, and he admitted that it does get frustrating. But by this time of the year, they know if they just keep plugging, good things will happen.
Torch said he was happy with the point, and I tend to agree. The Monsters aren't the best team ever but they were off last night, slept in a comfy bed in Houston, had their regular game day routine, and frankly, had more on the line. Not really excuses you want to be making, but as much as people try to discount human nature, it's just there, my friend. No denying it.
Hamilton is Saturday's opponent and last I checked they were well out of the playoff hunt, so a win against them is important but not as important as beating someone immediately ahead of or behind them. Still, 2 points is 2 beautiful, much-needed points.
But Hamilton... this is more about a grudge match for me. I still blame their nastiness in the Conference Finals, and how that series dragged out to the most painful, exciting conclusion possible, for the Aeros just running out of gas in the finals last year.
And I hope the guys who were here last year are holding the same grudge and, not only aren't looking past this weaker opponent, but actually want to crush them like bugs. That would feel really good.
Couple of other notes: Sources tell us that Fallon's injury is a high ankle sprain. General a lengthy recovery on those, up to a couple of months, so I think that love affair is over.
Also, saw Kuemper after the game and he's not a happy Kamper right now (sorry, that was bad). Nice little shoulder immobilizing sling on his wing where he had surgery a few days ago. He's grounded for a few months and not feeling great. I would guess everything is difficult when you only have one good arm and the other one hurts like it's been sliced and diced (because it has been).
See you Saturday.