The Aeros have slipped recently. Head Coach John Torchetti was right when he said he felt like a slump was coming after the Aeros finished that winning streak earlier this month.
The team is hovering around .500 during the rough patch, which is good, but they have allowed three or more goals in seven of their last eight games. That folks is not going to get the Aeros into the playoffs. The is just too much parity in the league this year (which is a good thing) but the teams with the best defense and goaltending are going to end up in the top 8.
I think the next 10 games are going to be huge. There is still the possibility that the lockout will end, and many teams will change in the next 30 days. The Aeros need to take advantage while they still have the services of some prime offensive weapons.
I have not seen as many games in person this year, but I follow the team daily and I think a lot of their recent struggles has a little to do with the odd schedule and the uncertain labor situation. The former is going to settle down, and the Aeros are going to play their next nine games all in Texas. The labor will still be there, and until there is some more news on that front, I still think you are going to see guys like Granlund not playing at full speed. I may be way off, but I have talked to some of my colleagues around the AHL, and they see it too. (Not just Granlund; I just used him as an example because he is as good as gone when the lockout ends.)
In their next 10 games, the Aeros have Texas three more times, San Antonio twice and the tilt against OKC on New Year's Day. That is more than half of the games against teams they have fared fairly well against this season. There is also a healthy dose of teams they have quite frankly sucked against this year. Two more with Charlotte and another with Lake Erie. They are 0-for-6 against those two.
At the end of this stretch, they will start a Midwest trip against the Chicago Wolves. That will be the first meeting of the year, and the Aeros have not fared well in Rosemont this millennium.
My thought is the success of this stretch will depend largely on the next two games. Losing to Charlotte again would be a huge bummer that could carry over to the San Antonio road game. I would like to see the team shake off the Checkered Monkey and start a new winning streak against a team they are going to have to beat if they want to have success during the playoffs.
The Aeros gave away two points and turtled the last time they played Charlotte. I'd like to see them score first, second and third and dominate against a team that has had their number all year.
Do you think they have that in them?