Saturday, October 11, 2008

Aeros v. Chicago Wolves - Game 1

A little opening night homework first:

Captain - Bryan Lundbohm
Alternate - Clayton Stoner
Alternate - Ryan Hamilton

Scratches were Adams, Rogers (still rehabbing the shoulder), Lammers, and Kassian.

Also, apparently those pads and helmet that Schaefer confused me with are his new gear. Even though he just got new gear at the end of last season. Nutty goalies, eh. Hopefully Fred got some nice shots of his new lid so we can see what's going on there.

There was NO GOD BLESS AMERICA! THANK YOU, JEEBUS!!!! Of course, it was replaced by some odd songs about the Aeros and some other "America is awesome"-type song. But whatever. No GBA is a glorious revelation. Good job, entertainment people. (And my husband has a suggestion: Guitar Hero contest!)

Now, here's the part where I have to decipher my notes. This is so much easier when I have my laptop.

General observations:

Schaefer is en fuego. He was sharp sharp sharp tonight and is the only reason the Aeros even had a chance at this game. He made some miracle saves out there, though the D did a good job cleaning up in front of him when things got hairy.

Special teams needs a LOT of work. And that lovely puck possession game with good chemistry I saw in the first pre-season game? Gone. Chicago kept the pressure on, hard, all game, and I can think of about one (1) offensive opportunity that looked like the team I saw in pre-season. The rest looked like last season's Aeros who choke on the power play and can't get the puck in the net or sometimes even near the net (first goal was as flukey a goal as I've ever seen, the second in OT was legit).

Here's the other thing that was weird about this game: Until the GWG in OT (and right now I realize I haven't mentioned the final score was 2-1 Aeros in OT), I was ready to jump on Kolanos for his unrepentant lack of physicality. There's an odd laziness to his presence on the ice, but then he'd hustle and look really good for a few seconds, and then... the game winning goal. Dare I argue with results? I dunno. Give me a few games, but I can't help but think how much more he could be doing if he always hustled like that.

Among the other new guys, Crowley took two minor penalties but was otherwise quite effective. If he can get his stick penalties under control, I think he'd be pretty impressive. He has no qualms about shooting on net to give some rebound opportunities, which was a positive for him. Love is a tenacious player, not the best skater but patient with the puck and I saw him make a few good decisions in some pressure situations. Falk, the youngster from Snowflake who is celebrating his birthday AND his pro hockey debut today, was less impressive on the decision-making front. He needs some time to adjust to the pro hockey game but seems to have the tools otherwise to be a solid SAH d-man. A really big kid and a better skater than most guys his size.

Among the returning guys, they looked flat and lacking chemistry on offense. Clutterbuck was getting rocked frequently and didn't look like himself. Except when he was caught by the camera on the big screen after a little scrum saying, "F**k you." Hamilton established his usual front-of-the-net presence that offered a few "almost" opportunities. I know the rest of them have more and can do better. For all intents and purposes, it's still pre-season. The defense looked good outside of a few head slappers.

As an aside, I'm looking through my notes and I see simply: "PP - AUGH!" That tells you about the Power Play. Sloppy and ineffective.

My three stars were:
1. Schaefer
2. Pavalec (Wolves goalie)
3. Kolanos

The real three stars were the same but with Kolanos shuffled to the top of the deck at #1. I don't see how a few moments of productive hustle trump 62+ minutes of rock solid goaltending.

Bottom line:

A win is a win, but without Schaefer, there would have been no hope of a win. The Aeros cannot go another season forcing the goalies to stand on their heads every game. These offensive lines need to gel and make some noise.

Honk if you miss Wardo!

P.S. More skinny from the fellas who actually get to talk to players and coaches after the game. Apparently the Aeros are adopting a semi-rotating captaincy. I'm somewhere between rolling my eyes and loving it. I like the notion of leadership being spread out, as there is much to be found on this team, it seems.

And some great photos from the game by Fred Trask here.

And more photos from a Thrashers fan who was at the game.


hipcheck  October 12, 2008 at 12:39 AM  

Hey, I just wanted to let you know, Fridge did awesome tonight! He was hitting anything in a Bluejackets jersey. I only have one complaint, he wasn't as fast (or he just looked slow compared to Boedker).

Ms. Conduct  October 12, 2008 at 12:41 AM  

Oh, I lurves my Fridgy. Glad you're enjoying him. He's not the fastest guy but he's effective.

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