Two Big Tests Loom…

We’re five games into the 2012-2013 season….so, what do we know about the Aeros other than their 2-2-1-0 record?

  • They’re Learning: I feel like this team has already improved in just five games, and the coaching staff feels the same way.  In fact, John Torchetti told me earlier today that he feels the team is getting better – both in practices and in games.  When you’ve got a young team (the Aeros are the 5th youngest in the AHL), you’re going to have some growing pains.  At the end of the day, as long as you learn from your mistakes and build towards the spring months, you’ll be a better team in the long haul. 
  • From Deep To Bare Bones: Just a couple of days ago, it seemed like the Aeros had too many bodies and not enough roster spots.  Well, after three games in three days last weekend, a few bumps and bruises have challenged the team’s depth.  Jason Zucker and Kris Fredheim both left Saturday’s game early due to injury and Tyler Cuma was banged up prior to that.  With five games in 10 days starting tomorrow night, I’m intrigued to see how this team handles NOT having the luxury of rotating fresh bodies in every night.  Keep in mind that through the first five games, the Aeros have used five different lineups.
  • Between The Pipes: We knew entering the season that goaltending was a strength of the Aeros and the first five games haven’t changed that notion.  Darcy Kuemper’s first start since last March came this past Saturday and he passed with flying colors (5-3 W @ TEX).  As for Matt Hackett, he’s seventh in the league in minutes played, with a respectable .911 save percentage.  If I’m a betting man, Hackett gets the nod in OKC, and Kuemper gets a shot at the Admirals on home ice on Saturday night.  But, that’s strictly my opinion.
  • Specialty Teams: Clicking at 26.9%, the power play right now isn’t of great concern.  However, the penalty kill is 29th out of 30 teams, having allowed five goals in 16 opportunities.  Look for the coaches to continue to make the necessary adjustments and coach these kids until they get it right.  Trust me, it’s not from a lack of video sessions and practice time.  This staff and these players take a ton of pride in what they do and they will improve.

Tomorrow night begins a stretch of three games, out of the next four, against the uber-talented Barons.  It will be the ultimate measuring stick.  So far, the Barons are a rather pedestrian, 3-2-0-0, but I’m guessing their loads of talent need some time to gel.  However, don’t let their record fool you: should the NHL lockout continue, the Barons will be one of the teams left standing late in the season.  Coming off a conference finals appearance, they are stacked with NHL talent and well coached.  The Barons owned the Aeros last season, which came on the heels of the Aeros taking nine of 10 meetings back in 2010-2011.

As for the other tilt of the weekend, all you need to know is this: the Admirals are off tonight AND tomorrow and they’ll literally be sitting in Houston, waiting for the Aeros on Saturday night.  Let’s hope the the Aeros can shake off their bus legs and get ready for their rematch with the Ads.  The last time the Aeros beat the Admirals in a regular season game was back in March of 2011.  Somewhere, I bet Mike Yeo can tell you the score…

- Aero Joe

P.S. – both games this weekend are on 1070KNTH.com and AHL Live.

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