The Aeros took to the Toyota Center ice tonight for the last time in two weeks. And with the way they played, Aeros fans might not be too angry if the team just decides to stay away for an even longer period of time.
The Aeros lost 4-2 to the Texas Stars tonight. There was a sloppy first period -- a too many men on the ice bench minor less than two minutes in the game was just the epitome of the sloppiness. They trailed 3-1 after that first period. They showed some life in the second period -- there was a nice goal by Jason Zucker to pull the Aeros to within 3-2. But the sloppiness returned in the third and the Aeros lost, again.
John Torchetti's statements are the game weren't much different from those we heard earlier this season, or Friday night, or last season. There's talk of a lack of commitment. Of guys who need to step up. Of letting the Stars feel too comfortable on Toyota Center ice.
"We've got to work harder," Torchetti said. "I don't see the desperation that we need to see."
But what's it going to take for the team to show that needed desperation on ice? The answer seems unknown. Maybe hard work. Maybe execution. But until they figure it out, it's just miserable to watch.
"It's frustrating," Torchetti said. "We try to slap a puck in from the red line and it only goes two feet and it comes back and it's in the net. That's just how it's going. Nothing I can tell them except hey, you've got to keep battling through it. You've got to work harder."
Drew Bagnall spoke after the game, and he accepted some of the blame, as if he's not doing enough in his leadership role to make the urgency, the desire, the want to work harder aspect of the game evident to the younger guys.
"We have to come together as a team," he said. "It's no one individual player who's going to win or lose us a game. It's team thing. It starts with leadership, and I'll take the brunt of the blame for that."
Torchetti just wants the guys leaving more of themselves out on the ice.
"The number one thing is, we've got to pay a bigger price," he said. "We're not paying any price at all. We don't even have one nick on our faces. We've played in four hockey games, and I don't think anyone's paid a price yet."
But as frustrating as it is for Torchetti and Bagnall, it's more frustrating for the fans. The team's been sloppy. The play's been lackluster for the most part (Jason Zucker and Justin Fontaine being the most notable exceptions to that). Sure the team's been hit with injuries, but injuries can in no way excuse what's happening out on the ice.
The Aeros are gone until November 25 when they host the Abbotsford Heat led by former Aeros assistant Troy Ward. Will the team play better on the road? Will they find themselves away from Toyota Center? That's still to be determined.
ONE FINAL NOTE:
Tonight's sacrificial goalie was Darcy Kuemper.