Microphone check…1,2,3

This new, always captivating, ever-changing “Pilot To Gunner” blog on aeros.com has inspired me to crank out some fresh thoughts on hockey, life and more hockey.  Lucky you…

I’m guessing this also means the end of the “Joe Knows Aeros” blog, crafted and written by yours truly.  Unlucky you…

Let’s start with the Aeros…

Huge win in Syracuse last night – absolutely huge.  To lose another two-goal lead and come away with no points in the final two games of the road trip could have been devastating for the Aeros as they approach the all-star break.  With that said, here are a few things to watch for following the all-star break that could determine if the Aeros are able to get back to the postseason:

1.    First period success – one of the best first period teams in the entire AHL this season, the Aeros must continue to score first and play with the lead.
2.    Goaltending – the flashes of greatness shown by Khudobin and Hackett (and Tordjman for that matter) in the month of January need to become a season-long trend.  We all know that you can’t win in the playoffs without great goaltending, but the Aeros are going to need superb play in net just to make the playoffs.  For a team that relies on a hard-working, puck possession approach to scoring goals, the team’s goaltending must rise up the few times each game that the Aeros’ opponent earns a quality scoring opportunity.
3.    The PP – this is more of a question than anything…can the Aeros’ man advantage find a way to become more consistent?  I’m thinking the best approach is to simplify things – as in, get pucks to Noreau and Prosser, etc. and let it fly from the point.  Or in the case of last night, set up Earl for a one-time bomb from the right circle in O.T. (sick!).
4.    The Wild – Depending on their injury situation / battle for a playoff spot, the Aeros’ parent club may well dictate whether or not the Aeros make the playoffs.  Look, every team deals with call-ups and injuries, but right now I don’t believe the Aeros can afford to lose one or more of their big guns up front or another D-man.  I just don’t know if the depth is there to cover up for two to three more call-ups during their upcoming stretch run.

More hockey fodder for you…

I found this note really interesting from the World Junior Championships in early January: USA Hockey is close to surpassing 100,000 members under the age of eight.  That’s great news for hockey in the U.S. and hopefully these numbers continue to grow as the game expands at its grass roots levels.  Also, I was so stoked to see Team USA medal in back-to-back WJC tournaments for the first time EVER.  Again, another positive note…look out, Canada!  Speaking of the WJC, Dallas Stars’ goaltending prospect Jack Campbell backstopped Team USA each of the last two years, winning gold in 2010 and a bronze medal earlier this month.  Will Aeros’ fans get a chance to see him 10 times a year in the near future?  Quite possibly…

Alright, I’m going to go tag team style to Little Richard (the Aeros’ PR guru) right now, meaning it’s his turn to get back on the horn on this fresh-out-of-the-box, kick-butt blog he started.  By the way, I loved the old school wrestling photo from his inaugural posting.  Growing up there were only a few people I loved more than the Ultimate Warrior (pictured below) and two of them were Pete Rose and Patrick Roy (random, I know).

Wayne Gretzky was also near the top of my list at one point or another – the “Great One” just turned 50 yesterday and he still holds about 2 million NHL records (99% of which will never be broken).  In honor of Gretzky, I’ll leave you with this…which of these two improbable feats is more impressive?

o    50 goals in 39 games to start the 1981-1982 season
o    The 92 goals (in 80 games) he finished with in the 1981-1982 season

Take care, comb your hair…

– Aero Joe


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