Wife in New York (WiNY?) took me out for date night last night. We had a little food and then made our way down to Blue Cross Arena where we took in the Rochester Americans against the Houston Aeros.
It was my first Amerks game, and the arena is a cozy little rink. It didn't feel like it was any bigger than Mariucci (though not as new) and that wasn't just due to the small crowd. The Amerks had gotten out to a 1-10 start on the season, and that, plus their severed relationship with the Sabres I'm sure has had a pronounced effect on ticket sales.
However, it's not because tickets are exorbitantly expensive. We were literally on the glass, right behind the middle of the Amerks' bench (WiNY didn't realize that's where we were - she being hockey savvy enough to know that those seats aren't all they're cracked up to be.) In any event, I think we paid $22 each. Not bad.
Okay, onto the game.
That was an embarassing effort by the Aeros. A pathetic effort on offense - you guys do realize you have to shoot the puck to score, right? - particularly on the power play where the Aeros were all-too willing to throw the puck around the perimeter without apparently even considering sending it towards the net. Pressure to the points created a turnover almost immediately and it was all the Aeros could do to not get blown off the ice in any kind of foot race.
Danny Irmen was terrible. With his shabby hair puking out from under his helmet it certainly looks like he's "gone native" in the minor league - which, if it means he's resigned to never making it to the show, is probably a good thing. No heart, no hustle, no moxie, no nothing except a whole lot of average. There are some in Wild Nation who pine for a representative son of Minnesota on every Wild team. It ain't gonna be Danny unless Risebrough loses a bet with God.
Marco Rosa - are you kidding me? Hey kid, there's this new league in Russia that just started up, maybe you heard of it? Do us all a favor and go check it out. Permanently.
Clay Stoner is certainly a big kid. But he played like Snuffalupagus. The only word that comes to mind is "passive." If he is to make the Wild playing like that it will be as Nordy.
John Scott got some big minutes, in all circumstances so you feel like they're really trying to groom him for the NHL. All I saw was a guy who took a couple dumb penalties, hit people in the corners, but was insufferably accomodating in front of his own net.
About the only guy I saw anything positive out of was Corey Locke. He's shifty and fast, and created as much as anyone on the entire team.
I have to be honest, though, my biggest complaint is with Constantine. What the hell is he doing? Should he not be teaching these kids how to play at the NHL level? That power play is an absolute joke. No structure at all - and they certainly had plenty of options to show it to me. The Wild is successful (even when they're outmatched talent-wise) because they put forth an honest effort in all zones and are opportunistic when they get a chance. I saw nothing of that from the Aeros last night. KC's got this rep as the big task master - but at some point maybe you should just coach hockey, you know? If all we want is a disciplinarian, we can probably go find a retired master sargeant for a fraction of whatever Constantine is stealing from us. Should Lemaire decide to retire to "The Trap" full time in the near future, I have to hope Risebrough has something else up his sleeve by way of a head coach because there ain't a lot of sunshine (band) with KC no mo.
I know it's just one game - and I obviously haven't seen them play very often - and I realize that the injuries to the big club have further diluted what talent they have.
But to mail it in against a 1-10 team, especially in areas like the PP that ought to play at the same level all the time - and showing nothing of value in terms of systems and coaching - is distressing.
And Tommy Lynn? Your wannabe tough guy attitude is wearing thin. Results, not rhetoric, matter in this show, pal. Stop BSing the fans and start paying attention to the team that you're supposed to be running down in Texas.