So, Friday night, they beat a hot Rochester team and look damn good doing it. The added toughness and veteran juju was readily apparent. But Saturday, they lose Zucker and Larsson and get whooped by a bad Hamilton Bulldogs team. *womp womp*
Now, if you've been to Hamilton, it's a proud city but it's also the kind of place that might induce a bit of malaise in visitors. Mr.C and I spent an exciting night there once watching televised bingo in our hotel room.
So, somewhere in my cold, dark heart, I sort of understand when teams go there and mainly just want to leave. "Oskie wee wee! Whiskey wa wa!..."
Anyway, still a really nice run the Aeros are on for being on the road, but tomorrow at Noon CT, they face the Marlies. So, if you're off tomorrow for President's Day, maybe you can listen in online (1070knth.com) or watch on AHLLive.com
Always kind of a crap shoot with the Marlies but they appear to be a lot less potent since the NHL started back up, losing 3 of their top 4 scorers. But they still have Ryan Hamilton and he's got 20 goals and 10 assists, and it seems he ALWAYS finds the back of the Aeros' net. I think doing so is in the CBA: Goal per game against the fans who used to love you. It's part of the "letting go" process.
Won't be a walk in the park, is what I'm saying, but might actually be a good game.
Meanwhile, in the NHL, Kuemper got his second start, literally notified of it partway through warmups, when Nic Backstrom was too ill with the flu (as is a good chunk of the Wild right now) to start. Backs backed up but sat on the bench looking very much like he would prefer to be in bed. Luckily, even just sitting around in it, goalie gear is hot. Maybe he sweated it out a bit.
Anyway, Kuemper got his first win, stopped an awful lot of rubber, including some deceptively difficult shots and breakaways. The Wild certainly didn't protect him from the charms of the (somewhat de-clawed) Detroit Red Wings like one might hope, but he was poised and steady as usual.
Further, Zucker scored a beauty of a first goal. Basically played the exact same game he played in Houston, which is impressive to do in your first NHL game in nearly a year. His speed is just as impressive alongside NHLers, which is awesome to see.
Lots of people said, "Hope you didn't get attached" and such, as though he's never coming back to Houston, but honestly, it's a numbers game. If he stays beyond others being ill, someone's gotta move. But he definitely showed that he's ready, which should surprise exactly nobody who watches the Aeros regularly. But that's great for him.
Larsson also played his first NHL game and played really well. Again, very much the same game he played here.
All in all, as much as Coach Torchetti can be proud of what the guys do down here, his real mission is accomplished on days like this, where guys go up and not only fit in, but contribute in a big way to the Wild's success. As Torch himself would say, That's the bottom line.
Aeros have a home and home vs. OKC Friday and Saturday. So, be sure and get out to the game Saturday, because they're gone until March 14th after that. Worth the price of admission just to see how bad the ice is after the NBA ASG and disuse for weeks on end.