The Houston Aeros are in town this weekend, taking on the Toronto Marlies tonight and the Hamilton Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon. The Marlies are one of the best teams in the AHL. And as Aeros general manager Tom Lynn said last week, the Aeros are “playing the right way. Now they’re in a position where they’re showing they can compete in this league. The next step…is to show they’re a good team in this league. Win the tough games. And compete against the best teams in the league.”
Tonight’s game starts the second half of the season for the Aeros who, after 40 games, have a record of 22-15-1-2 with 47 points. (Points, as well as win-loss total, are what counts when it comes to making the playoffs.)
The Aeros are currently in fifth place in the AHL’s West Division. They are only four points behind the Division’s third place team, the Peoria Rivermen, but they are only five points ahead of the last place Iowa Stars. The Aeros sit in sixth place in the Western Conference playoff standings.
Asked about how the team looked at the halfway point, Lynn said last week that this team “came together this year more quickly than I thought it could, and a complete opposite from the way we were at times last year.”
Coach Kevin Constantine also offered his observations on the Aeros at the halfway point. “We liked what’s happened with our team. Obviously when you’re sitting on a couple of wins it’s easy to like your team and if we were here with a couple of losses then we might be talking differently,” he said after last Saturday’s win over Manitoba. “They’ve come together as a group.”
When asked about the playoffs, Constantine said, “We play in such a tough division. And we probably have to develop offensively a little more to be able to chase the top team. But there’s progress that’s been made in the first half of the year.”
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Here are some interesting numbers for the Aeros after 40 games. When they are leading or tied after one period, their record is 20-7-1-2. Their record is 17-3-0-2 when they score the game’s first goal. Even better, when scoring three or more goals in a game, the Aeros are 16-1-1-1. So it’s obvious that the Aeros play better with the lead.
Some more numbers: the Aeros are 12-1-0-1 at the Toyota Center since November 2.
For any of you who can’t make tonight’s game at Toyota Center, the game will be televised on Fox Sports Houston, with game time set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s game, which is not televised, will start at 4:05 p.m.
This weekend’s games with Toronto and Hamilton will be the last regular season Toyota Center visits for a team from Canada. – John Royal