Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Green Third for the Aeros?

Granted, we only ever see the green road jerseys via the crummy AHL Live video (which is fine for watching green blobs skate around with white blobs, but not for seeing detail), but isn't this what the away jerseys have looked like since the RBK switch?

ETA: Ah. Icethetics stands corrected. Good.

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Hockey: The Musical - Part 2

After the gutting last night at the Toyota Center, I need some joy. How about a little music?

Pierre Marc Bouchard
Raise your hand if you DON'T think of Mr. Spin-o-rama when you hear this? The puck will find a way, just give it time. Dig.
Round and Round - Ratt



Paul Albers
It's just got Paul in the name. I didn't say my thought process was particularly complicated on all of these. But this IS one of my favorite Willie Nelson songs. And I noticed that the person who posted this on YouTube has also posted a bunch of hockey fight videos, so that seems like good kismet.
Me and Paul - Willie Nelson

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aeros v. Lake Erie Monsters - Game 35

I'll be honest. I'm a little shell-shocked by this game.

One minute, I'm exclaiming to Royal, "I may have to eat crow!" as Mojzis scored his second goal of the game, and I'm thinking maybe we'd be treated to a hat trick (I'm utterly embarrassed to admit that thought now, but y'all know I'm all about full disclosure of my stupidity).

The next minute, Noreau rings a hard shot off the post and all the oxygen leaves the building and the Monsters score a short-handed goal. And then in the ensuing 4 minutes, put 3 more goals past Brust.

It was like a tsunami... you're laying on a hammock, enjoying the breeze, drinking your mai thai, but then the ground rumbles on some distant continent and suddenly everyone's running for the exits and you're looking up at a 200 foot wave.


"WTF? Where'd that come from? I was having such a nice time!" *glug*

Constantine pulled Brust for the man advantage with more than 3 minutes left. The guys fought their asses off to close the 3 goal lead held by the Monsters, but that's a long time to defend an empty net and the Monsters finally broke through for an empty net goal.

You never want to make excuses. That's so unhockeylike, but let's be realistic: This was their fourth game in five days, with ultimately 7 games in 9 days before a three day "break," after which they have another four in five all on the road. I don't care what kind of badass you are, that's gonna kick you in the nuts after a time. The mettle of this team is about to be tested as it hasn't yet been tested this season.

Never mind the injuries they're facing. Several guys aren't even going on the road trip, including Madsen, Stoner, and Lammers. While Rosa was out tonight, he's traveling and should play soon.

Anyway, some notes from the game:
  • Danny Irmen still plays for the Aeros! I know this because he actually contributed tonight! No points but I noticed him making shit happen tonight. Moreover, I *noticed him*! First time all season that's happened.
  • I've never seen a goalie jump straight up in the air to make a save, but I saw it tonight on a save by Monster's netminder Tyler Weiman. Weird.
  • The first period was so good. The Aeros were playing a tight, tight game and getting some chances. I couldn't believe they only had 4 shots in the period. It was some of the best hockey I've seen this season. Helped that the ref called almost nothing, so the pace was steady and exciting.
  • Both of Mojzis' goals were lasers from the point, almost the exact same spot. He had a very good game and I never once thought, "Gah! Mosey! You suck!"
  • Kassian fought some mountain-man looking dude called Penner. Edge went to Penner who pinned Kass's arm down, but it was clear that if he could have gotten loose, Kassian would have creamed him. Plus, he was much better looking than Penner and that counts for something in my book.
  • "God Bless America" was BACK! And we had to stand for it this time. Let's not make that a regular thing, okay, Aeros?
  • Scotty was also back. I guess Kimmy got his personal issues sorted out. Huge bummer for the big man to miss that call-up. Seems like I recall a story like that for Locke when he was with the Montreal organization... he got called up but his gear didn't make it so he didn't get to play. Man, being a minor league hockey player is just chock-a-block glamour, isn't it?
  • Here's Royal's blog on the game. And Andrew's Chron article.
Okay gang. That's all. Gotta get up tomorrow and make "Hockey Puck" brownies and "Hockey Stick" cookies for our Winter Classic gathering on Thursday.

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Aeros v. Peoria Rivermen - Game 34

We were watching this show the other day about a SWAT team in Detroit. They spend hours getting ready, learning about the location, the perp, etc. Then they gear up and load into a few vans and when they arrive at the location, they come pouring out of the vans, bust your door down, take your guns, and haul your ass to jail.

And that’s kinda how the Aeros played this game. They spent the first two periods getting ready to show up (while the Rivermen were putting 3 points on the board), and then one guy busts the door down and the rest of them come pouring in. Alby broke the door down with his first goal of the season by being in the right place at the right time, which was behind ALL the Peoria defensemen, so when the puck rebounded off Bishop’s right pad and onto his stick, he was able to just pop it in.

Then with 1:09 left, they pulled Barry from the net, called a time-out, and formulated one hell of a comeback. Almost right off the face-off, they got a shot on goal that Olvecky hammered past a swimming Bishop (and can I just say how disappointed I am that Google Images didn’t have a picture of a Catholic bishop in some form of water for me to use right here? Very.)

Then with 2 seconds left in the game, the Hockey Gods said, “Here. You need shootout practice.” and Locke’s shot from behind the net hit the leg of a defenseman right by the post and went in the net. It was such an unlikely goal I have no problem calling it a Miracle. No... a Freaking Miracle. I KNEW it was miraculous and I knew it was coming (based on comments from those who saw it in real time) and I still couldn’t believe my eyes when I finally saw it. They’re WAY behind on the highlights on AHLLive.com but it’s worth a look when they’re up.

Overtime was even with 2 shots a piece and lots of good defense. And then, Schaefer came in cold and just put the hammer down on the four Peoria shooters, while Ryan Hamilton, who shot first, froze Bishop to one side and then slipped it past him on the other side like he wasn’t even there.

Bishop stopped Locke, Noreau, and Deitsch, but then Schultz fired a rocket right over him that led him to throw a goalie tantrum and bash his stick on the post. A goalie tantrum is almost as good as a goalie fight.

Dietsch, Olvecky, Noreau, and Albers were on the ice for all three Aeros goals, Locker and Schultz for the second two. As sweet as Hamilton’s SOG was, I’m not sure it was first star worthy. How does Alby not get a star with a goal and a first assist? Maybe there were other aspects to the game that I missed but I thought that was a weird choice.

I’ll admit, I fast-forwarded through most of the third period and only half-watched the first two. Once you know your team isn’t going to bust the door down until 17:24 in the third, it’s hard to give much more time than that. However, Brusty looked like he played quite well, especially stopping 13 shots in the third period any which way he had to. He was off the hook.

Lammers, Madsen, and Stoner were out with injuries, and it seems with this road trip coming up and Scott (unofficially) and Kolanos (officially) up with Minnesota, they need some bodies. I mentioned d-man John Adams was summoned from Corpus yesterday and now center Daryl Smith is up from Laredo for a little PTO time. Fresh meat! We'll see how that goes tonight at 7:05 when the Aeros face off against Lake Erie for the last home game for a long stretch.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Love Letter #3

More from Mitch. I'm loving his blog (no pun intended).

To the folks on the Flames board who poopooed my very strong opinion that putting an AHL franchise in Abbotsford, BC was cruel and unusual punishment for the players due to the difficult travel (which would be distinctly worse than it is for the Texas teams).... take note. Mitch is no delicate flower.

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Wild Organization lives up to its name today

I'm trying to make sense of what's going on in Wild land. I'm sure I'm missing something important but I'm not sure what that is exactly. I love when the organization is being coy.

In Aaron Sickman/Ryan Stanzel's blog at 12:30 this morning (after landing in Calgary), it was said that the Wild is calling someone up from Houston today but they can't say who yet. (That has since been removed, however.)

Then we find out that Kimmy J. returned to MN today due to a family emergency. So, the Wild are down to 5 defensemen.

My assumption due to the timing of Stanzel's post was that they were getting another forward body up, possibly Locke. Did they already know that Kimmy was going to have to go home last night?

Russo says they tried to get John Scott to Calgary but missed his connection in Minneapolis (does that mean he stays anyway as the extra defensemen for a tough stretch of games coming up? I mean, he's already there. And can they not find some other way to get him there? Come on. Then again, we've probably given Calgary the win and figure why bother with huge expenses to get a #6 d-man up.)

And then Royal says the Aeros have called up John Adams from Corpus (who, as a team, had a big brawl with the Mudbugs Friday night, including a freaking goalie fight! Man. I missed a goalie fight by 3 days. Darn the luck.)

And speaking of which, my Google Alerts aren't working and haven't been working for a while. I need to go sort that out because I'm pissed that I missed that bit of news. My blanket has holes. Darn it. *snicker*

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday hockey

I haven't watched the Wild or the Aeros games, other than the highlight of Cal's sweet breakaway goal. Sweet fancy Moses, I love that kid. Love Love Love. And I see that the Aeros won in the shootout. That's a bonus. I'll watch that tomorrow.

I was, instead, off playing my own hockey game. A few good things happened:

  1. I finally got to the pro shop while they were open and bought suspenders for my goalie pants.
  2. I had a great shot block with my skate that would have made me proud... if I'd been playing goal or if the shot I blocked hadn't been my own teammate's shot on goal. Ugh.
  3. The game eventually ended and our team won. Not that I had anything to do with it.
  4. While we were playing, the girl's locker room was taken over by the Houston Wild hockey team, which appeared to be 16+ year olds. When we got off the ice and had to go in to get our stuff out of "their" room, they were still getting dressed.

    Merry Christmas to me. I've never gathered my gear so slowly in my life.
Beyond that, it was one of the worst games I've played since I started. I hated nearly every minute of it and feel like I did almost nothing well. Not even a hockey high after. Just a headache and a bad mood and stinky hands.

And hear this, bitches:

If one more person says, "You almost had that shot there!" or "Oh, you came close there!" I'm going to break my stick over their nuts. Honest to god, I'm sick to death of hearing that. Yeah, look, I ALWAYS almost get it. I'm just gonna get ALMOST put on the back of my jersey. Fuck it.

ETA: Woke up at 4 a.m. tossing the game around in my head. At least some of the things I did right are starting to come back to me. But I still couldn't get back to sleep.

I think what I really need is a haircut to freshen my perspective a bit. Is that the most girl thing I've ever said (other than the cougary commentary in #4 above)? Never mind. Don't answer that.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Aeros v. QC Flames - Game 33

I'm not covering this one too closely as I missed a good chunk of the game, including the first two QC goals and I really didn't come away with much of a sense of the game other than we had plenty of chances but couldn't score enough.

Sometimes writing about the Aeros is like Groundhog Day.

In fact, I'll just link you to all the previous game reports and you can re-read those if you want to know how this game went. Ignore the wins.

Scratches were Lammers, Stoner, and Madsen, all of whom are injured.

Dear Jock, Riser, and Lynn,

Please return Kolanos undamaged as soon as possible.


Sincerely,

Houston
(Continued thanks to Fred Trask for the photo, which is going to get a boatload of mileage this season.)

A few final notes:
  • I feel like noting the rather heated line brawl at the final buzzer. Should be interesting to see how much of that carries into their next meeting on Jan 10 in QC.
  • Love got his first goal of the season. Atta boy!
  • I miss Stoner. Total fangirl reaction, but there it is. I want him back and I want him wearing the C.
  • Chucko got a goal and the second star. Gag.

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Hockey: The Musical - Part 1

In the doldrums of mid-season, I figure it's time to do something new. I'm not huge into music but when I was doing half marathons and marathons, I needed lots of it to get me through the hours of training. And occasionally, I run across a song that makes me think of certain players or situations. So, I'll share those in little bits over the next few weeks, with one Wild and one Aeros player each time.

Aren't you excited? Woo! Let's go:

Mikko Koivu
Mikko's gotta have a bit of a dark side, as intense and competitive as he is. This song totally makes me think of him. One of my favorite Hip songs, too.
The Darkest Ones - Tragically Hip



Barry Brust
Taptaptaptaptap...
Superstition - Stevie Wonder

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Brusty Article

Andrew Ferraro wrote a terrific piece on Barry and the Aeros that was published on the AHL site today. Nice work, Andrew.

Good stuff on the shoot-out issues he's had and his off-season efforts to improve. Check it out.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Aeros v. San Antonio Rampage - Game 32

The temptation is take Coach Constantine's approach to this game and concede that it was a weird game that you expect to be weird due to the time off and just move on to tomorrow.

But there are a few grievances that need airing, so let's gather 'round ye olde Festivus pole and get to it:

First of all, while I felt like the defense failed the goalies at times, Constantine felt the goalies weren't making saves. On reflection, I'd say it was a mix. Brusty started the game and looked slow on the first two goals, just like the rest of the team.

The two goals on Schaefer were tougher. One, Albers let Goertzen just stand there at the top of the crease, which allowed him to bang the first goal five hole. Granted, it was a PP goal, but if you're gonna stand there next to an opponent who is hovering over your goalie, you need to make life difficult for him.

In fact, I was watching Paul's coverage of Goertzen and thinking, "Uh oh. You need to be getting that guy out of there, Alby." And then boom. Goal. Frankly, it was an Ambien game for Paul across the board. The kind of game where you lay awake thinking through all the stuff you got wrong and wish you had some Ambien to just knock you the hell out.

The second goal on Nolan, they just drew him to one side and he was down and couldn't get back across for a shot to the open side. That's a little harder... especially on a PK... to make sure a d-man is covering both sides.

Bottom line, the Aeros played like they ate too much ham and potatoes, hadn't practiced for 3 days, and just weren't firing on all cylinders, and the Rampage played like a team hungry for a road win that could smell blood in the water.

Mojzis still looks like he's playing on some other team out there. Maverick forwards are sometimes worth it, like Kolanos, but maverick defensemen are just scary. That's all I'm saying about that.

The PK was terrible, letting in 3 of 6 opportunities for the Rampage. So much for not sweating the PK anymore. I take that back. Hockey gods smote me again.

Ah, that's enough grievances. I'm getting depressed.

Now for the feats of strength:

The three goals the Aeros did get were awfully pretty:

  • Locker's was a sweet "bottle popper" over Tordjman's shoulder glove side (from Lammers and Noreau).
  • Schultz's first goal was a bit of a breakaway with one man hanging all over him, but he held on to the puck and then flipped the puck into the top of the net, seemingly with one hand on his stick, though I can't quite figure out how he did it. It was a jaw dropper for sure.
  • Schultzie's second was on a play the guys had been trying to set up over and over and over during a 2 minute 3-on-5 opportunity. They'd been trying to draw the goalie to one side and get him to commit, and then pass to the open side and pop it in before he can get back. Honest to god, the whole 2 minute penalty was them trying to set this play up and oddly enough, it didn't work until the penalties were over and both teams were at full strength.
Huge crowd there tonight, and a strong SA contingent as I heard lots of promotional cowbells ringing after their goals. Always nice to have a big crowd, but you kinda hope the team shows up a little better. Oh well.

I'm seeing progress in Falk's game, too. He still had a few "oh shit" moments tonight but he also had a few nice plays to feed the puck up the ice to help get some scoring chances that might otherwise have gotten clogged up in the neutral zone. That was a terrible sentence but you get my point.

Love had a little row with Keefe that was feisty but short and I'd say Keefe edged him as he got his jersey over his head and pounded away for a bit, but the crowd loved it anyway. Olvecky and Murray fought as well, but it wasn't quite as enthusiastic.

Scratches were Stoner, Madsen, and Kassian. Stoner is hurt. Not sure about Madsen. Presumably Kassian is a healthy scratch. Notable about that is that Love, usually a defenseman, is still playing forward.

Aeros are on the road first thing in the morning to Quad Cities for a game tomorrow night, @ Peoria on Sunday afternoon, and then they're back home against Lake Erie on Tuesday for the last time until Jan 16.

Oh yeah, and there were some nearly-nekkid ladies. You'll have to read about that somewhere else. None of them fell from the towering heights of their stiletto heels, so that part of the show failed miserably in my opinion.

Royal's blog of the game
Andrew's Chron article

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Aeros Functionality: Part 1

Joe O'Donnell, voice of the Aeros, brings us a meaty segment with Asst. GM/Asst. Coach Troy Ward talking about how the team breaks down responsibilities for the three coaches and, to start, how the coaches break the game down for offensive play.

Nothing earth shattering here, but I always enjoy listening to coaches get into the nitty gritty of hockey and Troy is a great teacher, so it's easy to follow if you're not all that well-versed in hockey systems.

(BTW, if the video doesn't work for you, as it didn't for me in Firefox or IE, it works in Safari. Could just be my system, but I figured I'd throw a solution out in case I'm not alone in my technical difficulties.)

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hang in there!

Everyone else is wishing Merry Christmas to their readers, advising them to take a break from hockey, enjoy their families, etc.

All I can think is: No hockey for two whole days??? WTF?!

So, instead of wishing you happy holidays, for those of you like me who are consumed by hockey... and you are surrounded by people with no interest in hockey for two days... and you are having to talk about other people's kids, pets, hobbies, jobs, none of which are related to hockey... and you find yourself nodding a lot while secretly pondering Gaby's Groin or the speed of Chara's slapshot...

Hang In There!

Hockey will be back Friday! A home Aeros game for those of us in Houston and nine fresh NHL games for the rest of you. We can do this. It might even be fun, with enough eggnog.

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Quick Hits: Mudbugs get the moral victory; Cal breaks the hit record and scored; Pouliot sits

Well, that was a fun time! Our seats were terrible, right behind the Mudbugs bench, but it gave my parents a chance to learn about the back-up goalie's very important job of minding the door. And how they're all sniffing smelling salts before the game. And see the angry coach up close. But not much hockey to be seen from there. Why would anybody sit there except puck bunnies?

First intermission, we moved up high and actually got to see hockey. They really enjoyed it and said they could see why I like it so much, so I accomplished my overarching goal for the night.

Texas scored 2 in the first and one nearly off the first face off in the second, so our pal, the back-up goalie, got in and played much better than his partner. The Bugs came back to get the score within one but just couldn't get the puck in the net to tie it up. Boy, that's a familiar feeling...

They throw the crawdads on the ice after every goal. Dad even said, "Gosh, they should throw crawdads after goals like Detroit and their octopus." Lo and behold... there they go flying.

Lots of chants they do, too. I'm guessing they're pretty standard ones as I recognized parts of them from what I've heard Gopher fans talk about, but didn't know them all. Very dedicated fan base, which was awesome to see. They all knew the chants and most jerseys were Mudbugs jerseys.

Terrible intermission games though.. first one was literally 3 guys with yellow pages having to look up some business. And they were unsuccessful as far as I could tell. WTH? Second was 3 ladies in a gift wrapping race. Gave them two boxes to wrap so one lady wrapped both boxes up together and was pretty angry when she didn't win. LOL Had to agree with her... they never said each had to be wrapped individually.

Anyway, good stuff. Nice to see live hockey after the Aeros being gone for a while. I start to come out of my skin a bit when I don't get to see live hockey for a while. I'm already dreading summer.

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So, Cal broke the Wild record for most hits in a season in only his 29th game of the season. He's 5th in the league (behind Lucic, Orpik, AO, & Brown) in hits but 32 (!) hits ahead of the nearest fellow rookie. It's like if Costco sold PAIN, there'd be a shelf full of Clutterbucks. PAIN in nearly embarrassing volumes at a discount prices.

He also tipped in his third goal of the season off a shot from Gaby. I haven't watched the game yet, but I've got it Tivo'd so that's next on the agenda before sleep.

Good little interview with Cal about 1/4 of the way into the post game broadcast and again, his articulation of what he brings to the game is just excellent. Anybody who thinks he's "just hitting" out there doesn't get it. Here's hoping he gets home for a quick visit with mom and dad. Helluva young man you've got there, Mr & Mrs C.

---------------------------

Benny got yanked by Jock today. As I mentioned in Russoville, at some point, the coaches are going to get tired of having to shame him into playing his best. That or it's simply going to stop working.

How many times have we heard this quote from Pouliot (as said to Russo Tuesday)?

“Mario gave a pretty good run there after practice,” Pouliot said. “I haven’t been playing my best hockey the past six, seven games, that’s for sure. I had a bad game against St. Louis and now I’m paying for it by not playing.
“It’s [Lemaire’s] decision, and I can’t change that unless I work hard. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Try? TRY?

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Love Letter #2

Right here

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Quick Hits: Wild cookies, Nut terror, Mud Bugs

My Boogie-loving friend, BandGeek, unwittingly became my hockey cookie surrogate today by making cookies for the Wild boys, including Cal, so I asked for a photo to share. See? There's green Boogie, green Cal, green Mikko, green Burnzie and some of the other boys.

Maybe I'll whip up some hockey cookies for the little New Year's Day gathering for the Winter Classic. After seeing BG's cookies and the fantastic sticks Schultzie made for her Tri-boys, I'm itching to bake something!

ETA: OMG! Look at this, and this, and THIS! Oh, I want!

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Wysh and his disciples are still going on about Crosby punching Boris "And Natasha" Valabik in the nuts. I'm highly amused by the consternation over this meaningless occurrence and couldn't help but poke the mass of squirming boys in the ... comments.

Honest to god, one punkass former Chicago Wolves player gets a punch in the junk that he doesn't even feel and suddenly the inconsistencies in the league's punishment "policies" are the most heinous thing ever. Look fellas, relax. Shit happens in hockey fights. Fists fly and if all you're gonna give a guy is your ass in the air, well, those fists are gonna hit what you present.

Here's the bottom line. If you weren't already screaming about the NHL's whack-job policing, then this incident shouldn't be the thing to get you screaming. It was just an errant couple of punches in a line brawl that hurt nothing except maybe Sid's fist. (I'm assuming he has very soft, delicate hands, anyway.)

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I'm going tomorrow night to Shreveport to see the Bossier-Shreveport Mud Bugs play the Texas Brahmas. I don't know any of the players, particularly since the Aeros have kept Jason Deitsch up from Texas, but I'm excited to take my parents to their first pro hockey game. Here's hoping for a good crowd, plenty of scoring, and a good fight or two.

I'm even wearing my Wild jersey since I so rarely get to wear it anymore. I may even take my camera and go all out in my fan nerdiness. Maybe I'll even buy a t-shirt. Somehow it seems like really hard core hockey fan to have some Shreveport Mud Bugs gear, right? How awesome is that logo?

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Sunday Night

Well, the Green team at Willowbrook beat the Blue team at Sugarland tonight for the Novice League Championship. I wish I had a picture of the cup to show you. It's made of cake pans and and jock cups painted silver and a bundt cake pan. Quite something to behold, but looks pretty legit from a distance.

I skated out and after having a sniff of playing in goal, it was completely unsatisfying. Not even the usual high afterward. I played fine and had a pretty good chance for a goal and some good clears and stuff, but I'm really hard pressed to care. Like, when I'm out there, I care, but now? Meh.

Hey, at least none of my own teammates stole the puck from me! Bonus!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Aeros v. Peoria Rivermen - Game 31

When was the last time you saw the Aeros play with so little cohesion, so much sloppy passing, and so many brain-dead penalties and still have the talent (and maybe some guts in there) to come out of the game with a point?

Because that's what this game was all about. The guys were tired, and their opponents were tired, and it showed, especially for the Aeros. It caught up with the Rivermen in the third, but both gutted it out in the OT, after which the Rivermen bested Nolan Schaefer in the dreaded shootout for a 4-3 final.

The boys in the bombers kept it tight in the first but had trouble controlling the puck, and while they beat the Rivermen in shots, they weren't quality chances... just "fling the puck at the net" type shots with nobody there to capitalize on the rebounds or make things difficult for the goalie. So Peoria went to the locker room with a one goal lead.

Stoner and Reaves had a solid fight in the first that seemed to energize their teams a bit, so good on them for taking one for the team like that.

The Aeros were extra special sloppy and careless early in the second (sorry, couldn't help myself). And it paid off early for Peoria who scored a little over a minute into the game, and then scored an short-handed goal on an Aeros power play when Peoria escaped a lagging backchecker and fired one short side on Schaefer.

The shorty seems to have woken the team up, as the 4 10 16 28 40 power play crew continued last night's success by ending Ben Bishop's shutout.

Then 5 minutes later, Mojzis got the Aeros to within a goal on a shot from Madsen and Rogers.

When the third period resumed, the team pressed and pressed but just couldn't get the puck past the enormous Bishop. Then, in a fit of penalty-taking insanity by two rarely penalized players, Rogers went in the box for interference, followed by Locke for hooking, which left the team to kill both penalties (including 21 seconds of 3 on 5) .

Then, 5 seconds after Locke was free, Rogers got a holding penalty. And once again, 7 seconds later, he was followed into the box by Locke on a delay of game call. So, nearly 2 minutes of 3 on 5 for the team to kill with 5 minutes left in the third and down by one goal. BRUTAL. Terrible thing to do to your tired teammates.

But shit happens and because these guys kill penalties in their sleep, they kept the gap to one goal.

And then, as if someone were writing this as part of a predictable happy ending to a movie, with 30 seconds left, Schaefer pulled for the extra man, the Aeros tied it up. Who scored that goal? Locke. Who got the lone assist? Rogers.

Helluva way to say you're sorry, guys!

Overtime was so hard fought. When the whistle blew, you could see them just slump with exhaustion, but they dug deep and took it into the shootout.

Unfortunately, the Rivermen took the win, scoring on 3 of 4 attempts, while the Aeros only had one successful attempt (Madsen).

So, the Aeros only got the loser point out of the deal but if you told me a month ago that the Aeros would get 6 of 8 points on this road trip, I would have groaned at your foolish optimism. But there it is.

Some tidbits:

  • The first Peoria goal was by Josh Soares, who was cut from Aeros training camp just a couple of months ago.
  • The Rivermen/Blues were Mojzis' team before he went back overseas to play last season. Bit of a homecoming, so it's good to see him score on his old team.
  • Mike Hamilton was back in but Maxim Noreau is out with an undisclosed injury and listed as day to day. Ryan Hamilton and Lundy are still out.
  • Ben Bishop never fails to amaze me with his enormity. He makes the net behind him look like one of those undersized kiddy goals. He's just fricking huge. Wild fans, imagine Boogie playing goal. It's like that.
The ranks are a bit thin, so I'm sure it's a relief to everyone that the team is off until Friday, when they rematch with San Antonio here at the Toyota Center.

Regardless of my own silly wish list for the guys, I hope Santa brings lots of relaxation and rest and healing. I'm sure there are lots of sore legs and tired bodies and nagging injuries that could use a break, and the break is well deserved.

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Aeros v. Rockford Ice Hawgs - Game 30

So, I watched the game but am feeling a little under the (blessedly cool) weather today and don't feel like writing much.

I'll keep it brief:

I'm still frustrated by Madsen. I feel like with 15% more effort, he could be making plays that change momentum. The finesse and talent and size are there but something else isn't. Oh but that jersey tuck is still there. *sigh* What's up, Morty?

But really, that's the only negative I've got. Brusty earned every bit of that #1 star. The defense was fantastic. I continue to be so pleased with Scotty's game. And Alby had this fantastic sequence that was just ALL him: First he blocked a hard shot on goal, then picked up the puck behind the net, patiently deked around an attacker in the slot, and headmanned it right to an Aeros forward up at the offensive blue line, who went right in for a shot on goal. Gorgeous bit of clear-headed, confident defense there. Nicely done.

Oh, and speaking of nice plays, I had a "Who the hell is that?" moment when Kassian picked one of the Hogs' pockets in the neutral zone and wheeled around for a nice shot on goal. I wasn't listening to the audio, so I had to rewind 3 times before I figured out it was Kass. Really sweet play there.

Both Aeros goals were on the PP and, as of this writing, the Aeros are 12th in the league in goals with the man advantage, which seems to be even better on the road for some reason (9th in the league). While I'm digging in the stats, the Aeros are 5th on the PK right. Get this though: they're 17th on the PK at home and 4th on the road. WTF? How is that possible?

The first goal, by Mojzis, was a shot straight up the slot from the blue line. Rosa was screening the goalie and it just went right through traffic to the back of the net, completely untouched. The second goal was on a nice shot from the circle by Olvecky (!) that Rosa (!) tipped in.

It's actually kinda funny to look at the score sheet and the Aeros' line that was on the ice for all three goals of the night:
4 10 16 28 40 (Mojzis goal)
7 10 16 28 40 (Rosa goal)
4 10 16 28 40 (Ice Hog goal)

Looks like KC played the same 4-6 guys all night. But this is how this team has to work to be successful, especially with call-ups, injuries, etc. Guys like Olvecky and Rosa have to "bring the noise" at times. And they're doing it.

Couple of fights, one between Love and Brennan in which not a single punch was thrown, and one between Falk and Skille in which Falker held his own but certainly didn't win. Finally, double roughing minors were handed to Mojzis and Brophey for, um, laying on each other behind the net. Seriously boys... get a room next time.

Looks like the scratches were both Hamiltons and Lundbohm. Guess M. Hamilton is injured.

Phew! 4:51 p.m. Finished just in time for today's game. These 3-in-3s are hard on everyone.

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Russo had a little write-up on Cal from the St. Louis game. And Elise at 18,568 Reasons Why has the tale of the tape. Nice stuff, E.

And I've lost count of how many people I want to thump between the eyes for second guessing Cal because he lost that fight. Please. The Wild are imploding and this is the guy you're gonna pick apart because he did his job and then backed it up :47 into a shift? Please!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Night's Alright for Fightin'

Well, I started watching the Aeros game but had to tend to a perfectly prepared steak (thanks Mr. C!) and potatoes and whatnot. At one point came back to my computer to see one of the Hogs going off for fighting, at which point I realized I was just missing too much, so I'll watch the archive tomorrow.

But I did watch the box score and saw that Rosy got the game winner again, and the boys held a one goal lead alllll through the third, with only one penalty. I'm starting to feel a bit spoiled and I like it.

What feels really good about this two game series is giving it back to the team that took the Aeros out of the playoffs last year. Nothing like going into their barn and taking 3 points away from them. Happy Holidays! Sincerely, The Aeros

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Meanwhile, in St Louis... I get the feeling that Carlo Colaiacovo isn't too fond of his brother in C-squaredness. I guess Cal kinda got under his skin and the elder CC jumped the younger CC 47 seconds into his shift. Douchebag move if you ask Mama Conduct. Sorry you don't like being hit. Try looking up every once in awhile.

So, Cal kinda got his ass handed to him in that fight, which pained me to watch, but he's a big boy and came back and kept hitting like nothing happened. But then Cam Janssen ran Cal into the benches so hard Cal's lid popped off, then Cal pops up and guns for Carlo, who had the puck, and gave him a love tap into the boards, bare head and all.

Carlo turned around and jumped on Cal's back and was trying to slam his face into the ice, and when he couldn't do that, started punching him in the face from behind.

He reminded me of Raphie from A Christmas Story when he finally had it up to here with Scut Farkus picking on him and just snapped and beat the snot out him.

Of course, none of that nonsense worked in the Wild's favor because their PP sucks. Whatever. Done with that. Couple of days to regroup before the Hurricanes hit St. Paul.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Aeros v. Rockford Ice Hawgs - Game 29

Woo! Merry Christmas, boys! Did Santa deliver tonight or what?

Just leave some cookies and milk at my seat next Friday.

I'm gonna be like Russo and start with all the stuff I got right:

First, Brusty's intermission interview echoed a lot of what I said in my recap of Wednesday's game. Normally that wouldn't be bragging stuff but it's hard to really get a sense of these games on the little AHLLive video, so when I mostly nail it, that makes me happy.

Second, Rosy's back, baby! A beautiful, game tying goal, an assist on Rogers' goal, and then the game winning shootout goal! Someone has been a good boy this year. Number one star for you, mister!

Third, Ryz! A piddly assist wasn't enough for that first, long-awaited point. It had to be THE goal that got the team moving offensively. The Confidence Goal. The Number Three Star Goal!

Fourth, Rogers had a terrific game. Solid AND got that offensive touch back in scoring the "Take That, Bitches!" Goal.

Fifth, Schaefer got the start, which isn't a surprise on a 3-in-3, and once he found his groove in the second and third, he was spectacular. Seriously, it's a great problem to have to choose between two such fantastic goalies, but I'm glad it's not me doing the choosing. So, does KC ride the hot goalie tomorrow or does he ride the OTHER hot goalie tomorrow?

What else? No penalties for Scotty, Kolanos got to play for the Wild tonight (and got an assist off Gillies first NHL goal, which was also the game winning goal), Schultzie got 2 points, and I didn't complain once about Mosey! Hey, that's like half the list knocked off!

Oh! My unsung hero... Jesse Schultz, who was hitting everything that moved and warming my heart in a familiar Clutterbucky way in the process. Rockford is a tough bunch of nuts, so that's a good strategy for cracking them a bit. Good job, Schultzie.

The bad news is that the first two periods were not good. The first goal came very early and the team looked like they'd lost their puppy. No confidence. No puck possession. Where the hell is Kolanos?

The second was better defensively as the score was held 0-2.

The third, well, they found their mojo and rocked it out. There were NO penalties in the third. Much like that game against Providence with so few penalties, when you're not spending all your energy on the PK, there's energy and time to take the puck to the net and give the goalie the business. And the fact that the Hawgs got the go-ahead third goal within seconds of the Aeros tying it up didn't matter. They dug deep and stayed steady and trusted their ability to get it done. That is the consistency and maturity and professionalism KC has been looking for from this team.

It's a long weekend but starting it with a win sure helps.

Scratches were Hamilton, Hamilton, and Lundbohm. I believe Love was playing forward, which accounts for the missing d-man in the stands. I'm assuming M. Hamilton is injured or purposely being rested due to the compressed schedule, as I have a hard time believing he'd be a healthy scratch after the run he's been on.

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I can't wrap up with out bragging on C2, who had his best game of the season so far in Minnesota. He was under the Isles skin AND he was getting signficant scoring chances, as well as creating space for the rest of the guys to move the puck. He got the second star of the game and a special place in the deep, dark recesses of the Isles hearts, who took no pleasure in his antics.

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Quick Hits: Wardo's all growed up; Dimples action; Kolanos speaks

Nice article on Joel Ward and his new role this season not only in the NHL but on the top line of the Nashville Predators.

And someone posted this little bloggy thing on the Wild board today written by Dimples (dammit, he's so adorable). Wonder if he saw his hero Nabby stankin' it up against the Wings last night. Pee-yew! Poor fella.

Finally, My Hero Kevin Falness has a little chat with Mr. Sparkle and he's got nice things to say about the boys and the weather in Houston (but of course). His portion starts about 1/4 of the way in, after the Gaborik interview.

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Kolanos gone again *waves tear-soaked hankie*

For the fourth time this season, Mr. Sparkle has been called up by the Wild leaving the Aeros with a 3-in-3 weekend to grind through without their leading goal-getter. Oh yay.

Maybe a picture of him will make us feel better. Oh there's that smile. I DO feel better!

Photo still courtesy of Fred Trask


And at least he's actually playing (in for Belanger) this time, apparently.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Aeros v. Milwaukee Admirals - Game 28

The Aeros are to that point on defense where you don't really sweat the PKs anymore. These guys are penalty killing machines, particularly with a red hot Brusty manning the net.

Offense, on the other hand... still inconsistent, but the shots in this game, while limited to 18 (vs. Milwaukee's 27), were mostly quality opportunities. Often on nights when the boys can't seem to get the offense going, the shots are all right into the waiting chest or leg pad of the goalie, but these were shots that just needed an inch or two go in. (That's what she said.)

Just no luck, no good bounces rather than no/inappropriate effort. Both teams were held to just one goal each in regulation and it was a fairly even effort from everything I saw.

Though, in the overtime frame the Aeros seemed to have difficulty making any headway in the offensive zone. It looked at times like a 5 minute penalty kill, which with this team is manageable but not too good for avoiding the shootout.

Yeah, the shootout. This time, Constantine puts Schaef in cold, which I think was pretty well foreshadowed last Wednesday. And he played well, stopping 3 of 5 shots, but only Locke was able to convert. Though to the credit of both Lammers and Milwaukee goalie Drew MacIntyre, that particular shot was excellent, but the save was that much better. Dramatic stuff for sure.

And that's the game.

Barry was fantastic in his 65 minutes, but the unsung hero of the game for me was Peter Olvecky, who has come alive in the last few games. He made his presence known with several good chances in Milwaukee.

Also, high five to Mike "The Other" Hamilton who has made it neigh on impossible to send him back to Vegas. Don't leave me hanging, Mikey.

Scratches were the still-injured Hamilton and Lundbohm, as well as Love and Kassian.

Friday and Saturday night, the boys face last season's playoff opponents, the Rockford Icehogs, for the first time this season. Any leftover ill will there? I know I have a little...

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Quick Hits: Cal on the top line & Love on the interwebz

So, last night in the Wild game, Lemaire had Cal playing on the first line with Mikko and Gaby. Said it was to add some physicality because they were getting run a little bit, and to create some space. Okay, that's nice. Figure it's a one time thing, right?

Nope.

Apparently Jock has bought himself a parcel of land here in Clutterbuck Nation and is planning on building.

From Stanzel's blog:

On the ice, Lemaire had Cal Clutterbuck alongside Mikko Koivu and Marian Gaborik, and mentioned that Clutterbuck not only drives to the net, but he is physical enough to create space for the other two.
From Russo's blog:
[Lemaire] praised Cal Clutterbuck bigtime, saying the plan is to play him against with Mikko Koivu and Marian Gaborik because Clutterbuck will go to the net, take defenders with him to the net and open up ice for his talented linemates.
How about them apples? Dude is living the freaking dream. I love it! (Here's the video of Jock's presser... he's animated!)

Also, it turns out Belanger has the crud of some sort. And the bad news for the Aeros is that, according to Russo, Kolanos may get called up. Great for him, assuming he gets some ice time, but baaaaad for the Aeros on this grueling 3-in-3 weekend.

Lemme just say, Jock, if you're gonna call him up, USE HIM. If you're calling him up just to play Gillies instead... well, I'll be very, very upset.

So let's all take a sec to send Mr. Belanger some get well vibes.

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As mentioned in the post about Mitch Love, he's started blogging for King5, a news station in Seattle, near Everett where he wooed thousands of Everett Silvertip fans.

Because his posts are getting dumped into a general sports blog on their site, and because probably most of us aren't all that interested in the Seattle sports scene, I'm taking one for the team and subscribing to the blog and keeping a list of links to his specific posts over in the right column here.

Now, I've lived in bloggerdom long enough to know that often, these blogs start and then sort of peter out as the athlete loses interest or doesn't have time or didn't really want to do it in the first place, so I'm not expecting a lot. I'll make a post when there's a new entry, so you can go check it out.

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I promise I'll get to that Aeros game report this evening. Stay tuned.

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Go to bed. We'll talk about it tomorrow.

I watched the Wild game solo tonight, instead of trying to watch it AND the Aeros game online, so I'll watch the archive of the game tomorrow. I know the outcome. And my only thought is that if I need to ship the scoring sticks up to Illinois, just holler.

I'll put them in the car and drive them there myself if I need to.

I'll sprinkle them with magic goal scoring dust made from Groin of Gaborik and Kolanos Hair Trimmings mixed with Sweat of Backstrom. (ETA: It occurs to me after the fact that this would make a paste rather than a dust. I'm not sure how I feel about that.)

I'll get my silver Sharpie and write little motivational phrases on the sticks, like, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHOOOT!" (What? That's not motivational?)

Whatever needs to happen, let's just get it done.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prezzies for the Boys

To continue the holiday theme:

Even though I'm not a Hockey Ladies of Greatness (HLoG) member, it's a great site full of gals who love hockey and love their teams, so I keep a close eye on things there. They do a monthly Creative Challenge and this month it's to name the Christmas gifts you'd give the players on your team. That sounds like a totally stealable idea to me!

To Brusty, I'd give a blocker that matches the rest of his new gear, a trip to Worcester, and a shootout win.

To Stoner, I'd give the C permanently, a trip to Worcester, and some bubble wrap to encase himself in so he can have a healthy season.

To Alby, I'm just gonna skip the bubble wrap and go right to full on goalie gear for my favorite shot-blocker.

To Kolanos, an NHL call-up where he actually gets to play. And more wins so we can see more smiles like this (photo courtesy of Fred Trask). He reminds me of the "two face" on Seinfeld. When the Aeros lose and he's grumpy... yikes. But when they win and he's rocking the ear to ear grin and feeling like the sun never sets on his empire... wow! I guarantee the Aerodynamics are sucking in their guts when that skates by.

To Schaefer, I'd give some starts. Great goalie but he's been sitting for a while. Would be nice for him to have some good numbers since this is a contract year.

To Kassian, a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

To Scotty, some kind of anti-penalty protection shield so he can play all out without worry about stupid penalties getting called on him all the time just because his enormity magnifies everything he does.

To Schultzie, Morty and Olvecky, points. Lots of goals and assists.

To Love, a few more years in an Aeros jersey. I'm sold on Mitch and feel like the guy deserves a stable spot in the league.

To Rogers, last year's incredibly solid game. I think he's getting there but I feel for him that he's struggled so much the first quarter of the season. I want him to have call-up potential next season.

To Noreau, a picture of those eyes. Oh wait, that's what *I* want. Man, he's got some piercing peepers. Seriously, I want him to win some kind of offensive-defenseman award this season. I'm not even sure what the choices are in the AHL, but that's what I want.

To R. Hamilton, the ability to lay an open ice check without knocking yourself out for 2 weeks. Dude. You scared me. Stop that. Get better soon.

To Rosy, last year's confidence and strength on the puck and willingness to shoot. And then when that comes around consistently, he deserves appropriate recognition for that contribution. I felt he was a bit underappreciated last season.

To Locker, same as Kolanos... a cup of coffee or two. Just to see what happens. Plenty of smaller guys play in the NHL and he's proven that he's pretty durable.

To Mojzis, the gift of patience. I'm keeping my yap shut through the all-star break to give you time to adjust to this system and then this gift turns into a lump of coal.

To Deitsch, a permanent ticket to the AHL. You're rocking it out and deserve to be at this level.

To Ryznar, POINTS. Okay, even just A point. I'm not even upset about it... I just feel bad for the guy (who is getting razzed about it, I feel sure). Who plays that many minutes, and plays pretty well, too, and doesn't at least get an assist? Do we need to burn some sage in your locker and put a drop of holy water in your stick? Whatever we need to do, let's get it done.

And to some of my non-Aeros:

To Cal, this photo of Gretz, signed, "Hey tough guy, take off your f**king helmet. Merry Christmas, 99"

To Mikko, the friggin' C back!

To Avery, a roster spot with the Manitoba Moose (even though they've already said they don't want him). Might as well sink a ship that would help the Aeros come playoff time, yet we don't have to see them again all season.

The rest of you fellas, just because I don't mention you doesn't mean you aren't deserving. You're just harder to shop for. But since points are the currency of hockey, goals and assists for everyone! What else? Santa's always listening, despite what I said before.

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Cal Unplugged

Hockey Unplugged with Clutterbuck and Weller

Cal vehemently denies his extensive grooming ritual as portrayed by Reitz. We in Clutterbuck Nation believe Cal. Sorry Reitzy.

Actually really good questions tonight. Normally they're not all that good, though My Hero Kevin Falness draws good stuff out of the guys anyway. Kudos to the attendees for asking some pretty thoughtful questions.

Hope everyone got home okay. Sounds like the roads are crap in the cities tonight.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

A little holiday break from hockey blogging

A couple of my pals who aren't obsessed with hockey did their versions of this today. I'm a sucker for an opportunity to talk about myself even more than I already do, so here goes. What are the odds I don't mention hockey somewhere in here? Yeah, pretty bad.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. In fact, I just made some from scratch tonight. Oh, man that was good. But didn't cure my headache. Dammit.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa isn't real.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
White.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. Germs!

5. When do you put your decorations up?
We did them early this year, around mid-November. It's just a tree though. I'm not a fan of themey stuff all over my house. If you need reminding that it's Christmas, the tree will have to suffice.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Gravy. Okay, maybe dressing, too. Starches. Love the starch.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?
I loved going to this old man's house who did all this crazy decorating every year and let people tour it. It's long gone but I always enjoyed that. It was a delightful bit of weirdness in a sea of mediocrity.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I don't ever remember believing in Santa, to tell the truth.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Nope. Christmas Eve is for eating. Christmas is for presents.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
It's pre-lit so I just hang a few ornaments. We don't have many because I'm just not one to spend money on that sort of thing. The topper is an Aeros Santa cap though. That's my favorite part.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
I love to watch it fall. I do not like it impeding my driving. Don't really have to worry about it here though, usually.

12. Can you ice skate?
If hockey skates count, yes.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
My first normal car (i.e. that wasn't a clunker hand-me-down from grandma)

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Spending time with family, kind of taking a break from the ordinary to do special things.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
I haven't met one yet that I didn't like. Well... I'm not crazy about fruitcake.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Putting the tree up.

17. What tops your tree?
Aeros Santa cap. Pay attention.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Um... Oh gifts! I like giving when I KNOW the person will like what I got them. I hate it when I'm not sure. I always like receiving. Always.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Not crazy about Christmas music. Geez. I'm really not as bitchy as I'm sounding here. I don't actively dislike it, but most of it's overplayed, too sentimental, too corny, etc. Just not my bag, baby.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
Meh. Good for stirring the hot chocolate but peppermint is usually reserved for sore throats in my world.

21. What do you want for Christmas?
Already got it. Goalie gear.

If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.

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Super Bowl Bound!

I haven't reported on my fantasy teams lately because even I'm bored by the level of suckitude going on. Lost in all 3 of my hockey leagues this week. Suck!

However, I am delighted to report that I am going to the Super Bowl in my fantasy football league! Nearly everyone on my team overachieved by at least a little this week, though Vincent Jackson from San Diego doubled his projected points. Woot! Go Chargers!

I've looked at my opponent's roster for the big game this week and it is freaking stacked. I'd bet against me if I were you...

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Also, just a quick reminder to go vote for the boys in the AHL All Star Game balloting. I decided not to reveal my vote after all. Didn't seem right. But I will say that I gave some sway to guys who are likely in their last year here and have not been to an ASG and have been team leaders during their time here.

And I'll also say, my Canadian goalie was Brusty. I know. Knock you over with a feather. But Nolan went last year and Brust finished last year so strong and seems to have basically won the #1 job here to start the season. I like his chances. Plus, he seems to really hate being in the spotlight and I enjoy watching him squirm a bit. ;)

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Friggin' Awesome

So, my first ever experience playing goal went by in an instant, was totally surreal, and was an extremely positive experience thanks to a defense that played their asses off in front of me and were very protective of me. I think maybe I saw 8 shots. I think I let in 4, maybe 3. Honestly, it was a blur.

I'm going to need someone to take notes for me to tell me how goals went in on me. I can't remember from one to the next. I know a couple were just back door passes that I couldn't get back over for. I need to learn to deal with those situations, but I know that's one of the more difficult situations, even for an experienced goalie, so I'm not too worried about it. What was nice was that I don't think any rebounds came back in on me. Either my team cleaned it up or I froze it or the rebound went to the corner. Though the last goal hit my stick and went in because I had it angled into the net. Oops!

Anyway, the other goalie was also a newbie to the position and is actually quite a good forward, so I'm not sure why he subjected himself to this, other than Scott TCG put him up to it for a dose of humility. :) The green team did NOT take it easy on him like the red team did on me. They didn't run him or wind up on him but they crowded the net pretty hard and showed little mercy. I think since I'm committed to the position... and I'm a girl... they were more cautious and considerate. That and my D just gave them no room to breathe. It was like having the Red Wings in front of me! Gonna start calling Coach Dan "Lidstrom"...

I'm just really glad to have that first game out of the way and for it to have been such an intensely positive experience. I heard the ref asking them what had gotten into them tonight, they were being so fierce. Just protecting the newbie goalie, ref. God love every one of them.

Going forward... Dan said I was doing a good job tracking the puck and staying square to it, but I need to play a little further out of the net, which I knew I'd have a problem with. I think most goalies do at first because you don't want to leave those sides open in a way that you can't cover quickly.

The hardest part was, honestly, just the standing around. My feet hurt like a mofo because these skates aren't broken in. It was a relief to get a shot that I got to drop down for, just so I could get off my feet for a few seconds.

The only gear weirdness is that my arm padding interferes with putting my gloves on. It's a bit of an ordeal. I've heard of women having to shorten the arm a smidge on chest protectors, so that may be what I need to do. I'll look into that tomorrow.

And I think the sorest thing is going to be my stick hand and forearm from handling the stick. That should get stronger pretty quickly, I hope. I also need to put some tape where I hold the stick so I've got a little more solid grip. My crusty old blocker glove turns sorta slimy with sweat. Blech.

Bottom line, what an incredible experience. To have spent the last year working toward this goal, and very often feeling like it just wasn't going to happen and there were too many odds against me, to have it finally happen and for it to be everything I hoped it would be, at least to start... I couldn't ask for much more. I'm so grateful, more than anything, for the little pushes and the bits of advice and encouragement along the way and the enthusiastic support of my team and Coach Stalin and Coach Lidstrom and Scott TCG, and of course, Mr. C, who has been so patient and supportive with this rather angst-ridden and expensive process.

My one super dumb moment: I was totally dressed and then one of the gals in the room mentioned something about a cup and I thought, "OH SHIT." I forgot to put my jill on. Had to strip everything down and start over. But it was fine. I've gotten pretty quick putting everything on. What I haven't sorted out is juggling a stick, glove, blocker, and water bottle to get out to the net.

And my one "ohh, this is what they were talking about the Goalie Store message board" moment: When the team was warming up and one of my teammates deked on me and got a goal in behind me. I always thought, geez, what whiners. A shot's a shot and it's just warm-up. Well, no, it messes with your head a bit. I was kinda in and out of net for warm-ups, just trying not to get too rattled by it.

Okay, that's all. I'm so tired and I think I've finally consumed enough water to not wake up at 3 a.m. thirsty as all hell.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sweaty palms

So, out of the blue, I'm playing goal tonight. I literally have beads of sweat forming on my palms. And a HUGE grin on my face.

*shriek!*

Of course, the question screaming in my head right now is: "Great! So.... how do I play goal exactly?" Oh boy.

All the goalies in the house, send me lots of good vibes tonight, will ya?

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Blanket Aeros Coverage and other stuff

Didn't want this to get lost in last night's game post but John Royal, the Houston Press Aeros writer, had some extra thoughts on the team that are worth heading over to read.

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Meanwhile, I've spent half the day shopping for our nieces and nephews for Christmas. Honest to Buddha, if someone had come to me in the Target toy department with a razor blade, I might be writing to you with bandages on my wrists right now. I don't do kids, I don't do toys, I don't do toys for kids I see maybe once every 5 years. But I did them all anyway. Hope they like 'em.

I really wanted to get the oldest nephew (one of a handful of children I actually like and kinda miss, not having seen him for a couple of years) a little hockey set, but the ones that are reasonable to ship are cheap crap. Plus, that's clearly an agenda on my part. I don't even know if he's ever seen hockey. But I figure finding it fun to use a stick to hit a ball into a net doesn't require a love of hockey. Just an excess of energy and love of sports, and he's got that.

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Wild are suck-minus right now. Thanks to my hockey spirits being buoyed by the Aeros recent success, I'm watching with sort of interested detachment. I can't be bothered with the emotional drama. Either they'll get it sorted out or they won't. The sun will still come up tomorrow.

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Late hockey game tonight. I'm guessing it's going to be pretty sparsely attended since it's the last game of the season and it's not until 10:05. Wish I were playing goal. Scott TCG won't even be there so I bet we're playing against cones on both ends. Bleh. Coach Stalin won't be there either, since she, her DH, and Mr. C are going to AC/DC tonight. I could have gone but I'm just not a huge concert person. I'm sure they'll have a great time though.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Aeros v. Hershey Bears - Game 27

Well. That was a helluva thing.

I've seen some crazy things at the Toyota Center, but the Aeros outdid themselves tonight. With an hour of hindsight, 6-1 doesn't seem like THAT outlandish of a score. How it got that way WAS pretty outlandish.

The first period had the feeling of a typical Aeros grind-it-out game. The Bears came out strong, hitting everything in sight, trying to wear the Aeros down early. The Aeros were definitely on the losing side of the physicality. They weren't getting rattled by it but weren't firing on all cylinders either.

Kolanos got on the board first with a beauty of a goal from a terrific feed by Mike Hamilton. Kolanos just fired a rocket from the bottom of the circle that beat Bears goalie Machesney. Thus ensued the rain of teddy bears onto the ice. Always a fun moment.

The note I wrote during the middle of the first was: "Hard hitting team and they shoot EVERY chance they get." Sure enough, one of those shots went in. Nearly 14 minutes in, Kyle Wilson fired a laser past Brust's glove side that just beat him fair and square. It was so hard, it rattled around the top of the net for a while. Nothing to do with that one.

There was a group of what looked like about 30 Hershey Bears fans sitting together and they celebrated heartily, did a little chant, etc. I was thinking, "Oh boy. I'm gonna hate them by the end of this game."

The first period ended one-all, but the shot count was 4-10 in favor of the Bears. Clearly the score didn't reflect the Bears' dominance in the first.

Second period starts with more of the same, though the hitting let up a bit and it felt pretty even. At 6:20, Olvecky got a breakaway with Schultz trailing. Olvecky shot and Schultz banged the rebound in... except he didn't. The goalie got a pad on it and it wasn't a goal. Now, at this point in the game, it's 1-1 and knowing the Aeros, I'm thinking, "Oh crap. If THAT didn't go in, we're never going to score again."

I'm not sure when I've ever been more wrong about something.

At 10:58, Kolanos scored again from Locke and Madsen on a 3 on 4 power play opportunity and, suddenly, the floodgates were open.

  • 12:02 - Goal by Deitch from Schultz and Mojzis on a 4 on 5 power play
  • 12:57 - Goal by Locke on a semi-breakaway drive up the ice by Kolanos, who fed the puck across the crease and Locke banged it in from the other side of the net (second assist went to Albers... especially nice to see him get on the scoreboard having played a terrific, fearless defensive game tonight)
  • 14:59 - Goal by Olvecky from Schultz and Deitsch
  • 16:59 - Goal by Schultz on a terrific feed from the top of the circle from Rosa (!) and Olvecky
What's even more incredible is that this wasn't just 5 goals in quick succession. This was 5 goals on 5 consecutive shots.

Mercifully for the Bears and their beleaguered netminder, the period ended shortly thereafter with the Aeros still trailing in the shot count, 19-21.

There were no goals in third, but it wasn't for Hershey not trying. They put it to Brust with everything they had, but he and the defense cleaning up in front of him were absolutely unstopabble. There was one save by Brust during a 3 on 4 Bears power play that I still can't believe. Fred has pictures at the link below. I can't even explain this save, but it was un-f**king-believeable. Barry is one hell of a goalie.

Of course, when the score gets this far apart, there's gonna be a fight or two. Or three. Or four.

Greg Amadio fought 3 times, though for some reason, this ref penalized the fights in a way I've never seen. The first fight was between Amadio and Stoner. It wasn't a great one but it was a fight, for sure. But he gave both guys four minutes of roughing minors.

Then Scott and Amadio fought, with Scott kinda jumping him, though I didn't see what precipitated it. So the ref gave Scott four minutes of roughing minors and Amadio just two. The fight was about 5 seconds long, but it was a fight. I actually don't mind this way of calling fight penalties. Some fights are worthy of 5 minutes, some really aren't.

The next two were. Love dropped the mitts with Wellar and looked like he was going to get beaten pretty soundly, but he just doesn't ever quit and came back with some nice shots in the end. And of course, he finished with some arm-waving flourishes, encouraging the crowd to embrace their blood lust (a message I heartily approve, of course).

Then Scott and Amadio decided they had unfinished business and those silly roughing penalties weren't gonna cut it. They were both pretty pissed and went at it hard and with a ton of emotion. I love when Scott fights like that. There's just no stopping him; he won that one and then took a page from Love and did a little warrior shouting and fist pumping himself. Ha! What a show for one of, if not the, largest crowd the team has seen at home this season.

At one point, between minor penalties and fighting majors, there were 5 guys in the Aeros penalty box. I'm not sure how they were all sitting down but they were.

I think that's all the excitement I've got. If you're wanting to see the Aeros and have a spare $4, this one is worth watching in the AHLLive.com archives once it's available. Amazing stuff.

Some housekeeping:

Scratches were Falk, R. Hamilton, Lundbohm, and Kassian.

Stars were 3-Locke, 2-Schultz, 1-Kolanos, all of whom deserve the recognition but Brusty was incredible. He even delighted the crowd (okay, me, too) by throwing a huge elbow on a Bear who was coming in on him while he was playing the puck behind the net. He got 2 minutes for it, but it was late in the game and totally worth it.

I would say that makes Brusty the unsung hero of the night, but I was delighted by some slick moves by Paul Albers, who was a shot-blocking beast in the face of a ton of flawless PKs tonight. They'll have to share the honor, I guess. Gold stars for both of you.

Also, apparently Steve Valette's contract ended and was not renewed. Kind of disappointing as he was playing well, but it looks like Mike Hamilton will be filling his role. Seeing as how he's got a point in each of his last three games (and he's only been with the team for four), it's hard to send him back to Vegas.

Andrew's Chronicle article
Fred's photos
Royal's blog

That was the last home game until Dec. 26. Bummer. I've gotten spoiled on this home stand and am not looking forward to a couple of weeks of having to watch on the computer.

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Noticed that Joel Ward had two goals against Dallas tonight and got On The Fly's Performer of the Night. Atta boy, Wardo!

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Aeros pre-game

Here's a preview from a Hershey Bears fan blog

It's probably not going to be much of a break but some of the best Bears players, including their #1 goalie (if you missed the great story about the Caps goalie situation last night, check it out), are up with the Capitals. You recall how much being up against a #2 goalie helped against Manitoba... zilch. So, overconfidence would be discouraged here.

I love teddy bear toss night, so I'm looking forward to the game. And Reitzy bobbleheads!

See you tonight.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Aeros v. Quad City Flames - Game 26

I'm having trouble figuring out what the lead for this game is.

  1. Barry Brust's triumphant 33-save performance after a third embarrassing shootout loss Wednesday night?
  2. The Aeros playing a fantastic team game (continuing the absolutely smothering defensive play) against a less than sharp, road weary Flames squad, and winning 4-1 with 19 shots to their 34 shots, and notching a much-needed 4 point win?
  3. John Scott not only getting the game winning goal but getting it during the Bayou City Wings Minute (which was renamed the John Scott Bayou City Wings Minute the rest of the game)? And continuing his greatly improved play. It's like he grew hockey sense over the summer. Oh! And then he stood up for Kolanos after Vandermeer whacked him in the face by the bench. Scotty was waiting at the door when Vandy's penalty ended. He got an extra 2 for roughing (lucky it wasn't instigating but I think the ref used some discretion there), and it was absolutely the right thing to do. Big time atta boy.
  4. Rosa doing what I asked him to do (mouse to the house) and getting an assist out of the deal. Thanks Rosy. You get two cookies.
  5. Max Noreau adding a ninth goal to his impressive, league-leading (among defensemen) stats. Later in the season, when the suck-minus that is the Wild are out of the playoff hunt, I'd love to see him get some call-ups and maybe shake some of those "ZOMG NHLZ!!!" nerves he had in pre-season. (There ya go, Andrew!)
I don't know what the answer is but all those things happened, and it was a stellar game by the Aeros. Now, how much of that can be credited to a tired Flames team not putting their best foot forward, I don't know. Some, I'd wager, but this was a game to build confidence around. And they're gonna need it against the Hershey Bears on Saturday, who lost 3-0 to a streaking (win streaking, not nekkied streaking) San Antonio team tonight.

QC did some interesting goalie juggling, too. Keetley started the game, but after the first Aeros goal (Noreau's PP goal at 5:45 in the first), they put Irving in for about 28 seconds, and then put Keetley back in. He subsequently let in Scott's goal in the first and two more from Olvecky and Locke (on a delayed penalty with the extra man) in the second. And then they put Irving back in to start the third. Peters got the lone QC goal, though my boy Chucko had several excellent chances on Brusty.

Of course, one of the interesting stories for this game was the reunion of Krys Kolanos with his team from last season, where he was a major offensive contributor but, I've gathered, wasn't as well received there as he has been in Houston. (Pouliot should preceed him at every team he goes to.) But they did neutralize him pretty well, which I fully expected. He had at least two guys defending him all the time, sometimes three, and he still managed to get an assist. They knew what they were up against with that one.

Scratches for Houston were the injured parties of Hamilton, Lundbohm, and Lammers. Healthy scratches were Falk and Kassian.

Oh and my little bonus for the night is a set of photos from a terrific QC fan from one of last year's games in QC that went into a crazy shootout that the Aeros won. I enjoyed looking through them and seeing the boys in their handsome darks and seeing Reitzy and some of the guys who are gone, so I asked to share them here. And he sent me an extra special one of Cal to post. Thanks, DS!

Awww... I miss him. But since the Wild were playing Phoenix tonight, and Phoenix really kinda hates him from Gretz down to JovaMinusNovski, you had to know he'd be the center of attention. I only saw the third period, apart from a little bit earlier on where Yandle and Bouchard had a very manly slap-flight, but they were all over him and he appeared to be loving every minute of it.

I don't know how every other team in the league just glosses over his antics but Phoenix gets sucked in every time. At least this time it didn't cost them the win. The Wild lost that all by themselves. Frankly, the Aeros looked like the better team tonight and I can't say I've EVER even come close to saying that.

Here's Andrew's Chronicle story. Royal's blog post (with lots of happy from the locker room. Yay! I love having a coach who was a goalie and understands what goalies need.). And then I'm hoping against hope for some good action/fight photos from Mr. Fred.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Aeros v. Rochester Americans - Game 25

What can I say about this game? It was typical 07-08 Aeros game where the defense, especially the penalty kill, was spectacular and the offense was painfully anemic.

Amerks goalie Mike Brodeur (who is either very blessed or very cursed with that name) saw little in the way of challenging shots in the 27 he faced, almost as though the point of the game was TO hit the goalie with the puck and not actually get it PAST the goalie. Even Kolanos wasn't picking the top corners like he usually is so good at.

What's especially sad about this game is that the Amerks came into this game with ZERO road wins. Well, you're welcome, Rochester. Now you're 1-10-0-1 on the road.

And to top it all off, Brust was in net and saved some doozies, but again, in the shootout, he was abysmal. I love watching him play, but if this team is going to continue struggling offensively and games are going to be tight all the time, this has GOT to get fixed. The longer it continues to haunt him, the more ingrained the problem is going to get in the psychology of his game. (Post-game reaction here in Andrew's Chronicle article and here in Royal's blog post... which, after reading, I'm feeling really, really sad for Barry right now... poor guy needs a hug.)

I'm not even gonna rag on the guys who participated in the shoot out and didn't score (only Kolanos did... and made it look like there wasn't even an goalie there... it was a beauty). It doesn't matter as long as Barry's letting every single puck past him.

Also, Marco Rosa is back to his dilly-dallying with the puck. Bad Rosy! STOP IT! He's like a cat playing with a mouse, the way he's just batting the puck around, as though there aren't 5 other cats descending on him, wanting that mouse. You put that rodent in your teeth and you head for home, son! Family needs to eat!

That said, it wasn't all bad (just mostly):

  • I drove to and walked into the rink in a barrage of snowflakes. It was beautiful and magical and put me in a terrific mood. I smiled from the moment I opened my garage door to leave until the time I sat down in my seat at the TC. Lovely.
  • Noreau got the lone goal for the Aeros on the power play and now leads all defensemen in the league in goals and power play goals. The kid is Solid. I'm more impressed with him all the time.
  • The National Anthem was nice. No choirs. A different music mix, which was a wonderful change of pace. And both intermissions utilized the ice. First with some little figure skater girls, and then some little kid hockey teams playing each other. That's the way you do intermission, gang. Well done.
  • There were three fights, none worth writing home about. Kassian and Emmerson did the required enforcer fight. Edge to Emmerson but only because he's taller and had a little better leverage. Then Rogers and Stewart went, though I think Stewart instigated and it ended quickly, though they both just got 5 for it. And the Irmen and Henry went after a scrum in the corner or something. By then I was so bored I didn't even care why or what happened.
  • There was something else that didn't suck but I can't remember what it was. Oh, in spite of the 2,400+ official attendance, my very generous estimate would be 400 people. So, you know, if you're gonna suck, at least you're doing it in front of die-hards who will come out in a blizzard on a Wednesday for hockey.
Our deck when I got home, before the dog went out and decided his new mission in life was to eat all the snow on the deck. Fortunately his feet got cold before he got too far into that mission. He was fired up though. Very cute.

Tomorrow, Chucko and the Flames comes to town. Apparently he's playing pretty well this season. And he's catching a break because my little crew of Chucko-haters won't be there.

Though I did learn from a QC fan that the team is leaving QC pre-dawn, having to come through Atlanta, eat their pre-game meal in ATL at the airport, and then fly into Houston, maybe/maybe not get a pre-game nap, etc. So for once, the Aeros get the benefit of a travel-weary team rather than being the travel-weary team themselves. They'll need to take advantage of it and come out strong and with a helluva lot more fire in the belly than they showed up with tonight.

Oh and I have a special treat for tomorrow, including some Clutterbuckage. Stay tuned.

ETA: I forgot to say, the scratches were Hamilton (concussion), Lundbohm (groin), Lammers (undisclosed), Love (healthy), Falk (healthy)

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When you can count the snowflakes...

it's not really snowing, per se. But by god, I'll take it. It's been nearly two years since I saw falling snow. I enjoyed my 10-20 flakes very much, thank you. Might have enjoyed more, but I didn't have shoes or socks on and the slate on our back porch was mighty cold on my feet.

Anyway, if that isn't a sign of hockey weather in Houston, I dunno what is. Fortunately, the ground/roads are still warm enough I don't need to freak out about driving to and from the Aeros game against the Rochester Americans tonight. But the bitchy part of me (which I think we all know pretty much rules me) is happy that the Americans aren't getting easy-going flip-flop weather during their stay.

Strangely, the last time I saw falling snow, I also had bronchitis. Suppose my respiratory system has some kind of sixth sense about when it's going to snow?

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

AHL All Star Ballot Time

Go vote!

The only easy decisions are the Planet USA defenseman, for which Houston only has two choices, Brandon Rogers and Jon Insana (who isn't with the team anymore), and Planet USA goalie, for which there are no Houston choices.

The rest I'm gonna have to ponder deeply. I'll let you know what I decide.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

If you haven't found Love, you should

Again, Google Alerts is better than crisp bacon and fluffy pancakes on a lazy Sunday morning... because it found this fantastic article about Aeros d-man and pugilist Mitch Love and, boy, if you didn't have a sense of who the guy is yet, this will get you there.

Seriously, if you're an Aeros fan or you just like great hockey stories, go read it.

And I have to wager they yell "fight" because, to say Mitch is a prolific fighter is a huge understatement. To not yell "fight" would be like yelling "peanut butter" but not yelling "jelly."

Thanks for the terrific post, MotleySu!

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PHN: Third period a dent in Aeros' flight plan; more from Constantine

Ha. I like the title this time. Pretty good.

Anyway, here's my latest ProHockeyNews.com piece.

I had some good photos lined up but due to the density of the Aeros schedule, we just had to get it published before the stats got outdated. I'll save them for next time, I guess.

Lots of great stuff from Constantine in this one. I could listen to him talk about hockey all day. After one game, when I asked him how a team achieves consistency (more on that below), he apologized for being "long winded" as he answered my question. Are you kidding me? I'm always a little sad when our interview time is over.

That said, I have several pages of quotes from him that didn't get into the piece, so I figured I'd share a few that stood out to me here:

On the bottom line:

All you want from your athletes from a coaching standpoint is that we keep acknowledging the issues and keep moving forward and keep working on what we need to work on and just concentrate on our next day and improving in the next day. Honestly, I'm not looking too far in the future at anything other than just keep addressing the issues.
On comparing seasons:
I think we're way further along than we were at this point last year. It took us at least 20 games before we were remotely close. I think we understand more now than we did a year ago. It's hard to judge. You're always trying to compare sometimes but your only reference point is where you've been, and we don't always want to look back at where we were last year. We have to find an identity that works for the team and they have to get together as a team and decide as a team what they want to be, so those are all works in process for any team.
On what kind of road team the Aeros are:
I don't even know how to judge our road trips yet, because of, you know, two in Manitoba and then travel to Toronto on game day in a different time zone. Then the last time on the road, we played 4 in 5 nights and one at 3 on a Sunday afternoon and then another game at noon on a Tuesday.

I don't really pass judgment yet on such a small window, especially when our road trips have been so challenging from a fatigue standpoint. I think if we spread some of those games out, I think I'd understand our team more, but I know so far we're not a very consistent team from period to period, from game to game, and even on an individual basis we don't get a ton of consistency yet, and that's something we have to continue to strive for is just a little more consistency.
On how to get consistency out of a team:
I think consistency comes from the effort you put into preparing. Your preparation the 48 hours before a game, into the game, and even your ability to handle the ups and downs of a game, because a game might have fatigue factor, might have a criticism factor, might have a "you've made a mistake" factor, it might have a physical intimidation factor, it might have "we're up by a couple" like tonight.

The only way to beat all of those adversities to consistency is to have a pre-game plan and a during game plan that puts you back on track as quick as possible, and that's part of becoming a good professional, is to develop those plans. So we have to help the players work on that.

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