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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Texas stays on top of this week's poll; Lake Erie rises to the Top 3

The Texas Stars stay on top of the rankings as we enter the virtual second half of the season. Please click on the image below to get a better look at the poll.They got three of a possible four points in their home and home against San Antonio last weekend, so they will stay at the top of the poll entering their game against the Aeros Friday night at Toyota Center.

The biggest mover at the top of the poll is the Lake Erie Monsters, who, with a win tonight, will sit atop the North Division. The Aeros have lost all four of their games against Lake Erie this season and have not held the lead in a single one of them.

They have talented forwards, and it looks like their goaltending issues from early December are a thing of the past. The Monsters could stay in the Top 5 if their parent team, the Colorado Avalanche, stays healthy.

Click on the image to see the Western Conference Power Rankings
They have won 11 of their last 16 games, dating to mid-December, and this weekend, they'll host the red-hot Abbotsford Heat (pun intended) in a battle for first place. This is definitely a case to see offense vs. defense, and the Monsters will play the Heat in four of their next five games. The Heat split a pair of games at Charlotte last weekend and remain at No. 6 in this week's poll.

Grand Rapids fell two spots this week after getting swept at home by the Aeros ... Toronto drops almost by default due to the lack of games, but they will get plenty of time to move back up as they play just three home games between now and mid March. This is a season-defining stretch for the Marlies, who like the Aeros better play well away from home for the next six weeks.

The Milwaukee Admirals are up three spots this week to No. 10. I probably had them too low last week, but they killed the OKC Barons after losing six in a row, the last a 3-2 loss to the Aeros.

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If you would have told me back in October that Texas would be the No. 1 team in the AHL before the All-Star break, I probably would have chuckled a bit. Top 10, not so much of a stretch ... but in the last three weeks or so we have seen the Stars transform from just an average AHL team to arguably the best in the 30-team league. The Stars are the No. 1 team this week; please click on the image to get a better look at the poll. 

Click on the image to see the Western Conference Power Rankings
During their inaugural season, the would grind teams down, and they were so hard to play against. Then Aeros head coach Kevin Constantine, in just the third or fourth game of the season, predicted they'd be "one of the last teams standing." Well, they were, making it all the way to the Calder Cup finals before Hershey took them out in six games.

In the last two weeks, their roster has been decimated by call-ups to Dallas due to the end of the NHL lockout. They have not missed a beat, and their only setback in their last 10 games was a loss at Chicago more than a week ago.

This weekend the Stars will face the San Antonio Rampage in a home and home series. It'll be interesting to see if they can keep up their torrid pace against a far inferior opponent (points wise) ... The Rampage have traded wins and losses since the new year, and I think they'll take at least one from this week's No. 1 team.

But the Stars will get No. 1 goalie Chris Nilstorp soon from Dallas. And when they happens, they'll be poised for another run to the Calder Cup.

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So we are about into a week where several AHL rosters have been raided and decimated due to the NHL training camps and the start of the NHL 48-game shortened season. Last week, I started the power poll for the Western Conference, and unlike last season, I am going to keep them all in the same post so those of you who want to see all the results may do so more easily.

The power poll image is smaller so it will fit in the allotted space. Please click on the image to get a better look at the poll. 

Click on the image to see the Western Conference Power Rankings
This week, the Charlotte Checkers have moved into the No. 1 spot. They have won four straight and have points in seven straight overall since an awful trip to Texas that saw them swept by the Aeros, Stars and Rampage. Toronto is a solid No. 2 thanks to a great home record and the best goal differential in the West. Our biggest movers were the Rochester Americans (up four) and the OKC Barons (down four). The Aeros get an honorable mention for dropping three spots due to their uninspired tailspin last weekend. Now they get to play the next two months on the road, so Aeros fans will really get to see what their team is made of.

Abbotsford stayed the same and kept from dropping further thanks to a couple of wins over the West doormat, the Hamilton Bulldogs. These guys have really had a rough go of it since making it to the conference finals two years ago.

Two teams that I can't really figure out right now are the Lake Erie Monsters and the Rampage. Lake Erie's won/loss total is bolstered by the overtime games and the Rampage keep trading good weekends with bad ones. I want to put them ahead of Peoria, thanks to that beating they put on them two weeks ago ... but I can't. The Rampage are just awful on the road, and just can't seem to turn the corner.

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The calendar has rolled around to 2013, the NHL lockout has ended, and now there are about three months left in the regular season. With that being said, it's time to crank up the old Western Conference power rankings again! Click on the image down there to take a gander at this season's first installment. Currently, I have the Aeros right where they are in the standings - fifth!
Click on the image to see the Western Conference Power Rankings

Last year, I started this to see what kind of feedback I'd get ... and it was marginally successful. Hard core AHL fans got a kick out of it and debating with me as to why I ranked so and so there, etc. Some even asked why I didn't include the entire league, but I just don't think I could do one of these deals without being able to see them play.

I do get to see all of the West teams at least once, and I follow news about all those teams on a daily basis. And with the new rankings, I have updated how I calculate the formula. This year's first list, though, is kind of boring. The conference is so tight from top to bottom, and everyone still has a shot at getting into the Top 8 for the playoffs tournament.

Grand Rapids tops the first Western
Conference poll of the season
On this list, I have Grand Rapids over Toronto for the top spot mostly because of how well the Griffins play both at home and on the road. Toronto can only win at home, but they do lead the conference in goal differential. Needless to say, the top 2 spots were very close.

When all the numbers were crunched (and basically all that means is that I weigh different stats on a scale of 1-100 percent) the next 10 or so teams were, too, very, very close together. I expect there to be more chatter and debate this time around.

I will try to crack these out every week between Monday and Wednesday afternoon in advance of that week's games. I hope you'll give these a nice look every now and then and let me know what you think.


4 comments:

Forecheck said...

Nice exercise Andrew, but- a bit obsolete given the AHL reboot.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

This poll will evolve each week...I think it's a perfectly good time to start one.

Forecheck said...

I was not expecting to lose Brods and Scandy so soon. I figured we would get six games each from them.

Anonymous said...

at least Bagnall will be returning and have a veteran in Mara.
After watching last night's performance Brodin is ready for the nhl and that was not a premature call up.
I don't think the same can be said of Granlund and wouldn't be surprised if he came back down