The Aeros don’t believe in making things easy. A victory on Wednesday night against the Quad City Flames would have put the team in the driver’s seat for the number two seed in the AHL West Division playoffs, and that would have guaranteed a little home-ice advantage. Instead, the Aeros lost 1-0.
There are three games remaining in the regular season, and though the Aeros are guaranteed a playoff spot, not much else is certain. The Aeros find themselves in a three-way tie for the West Division’s third seed. They also find themselves just two points behind the Rockford IceHogs for the second seed.
Who will they play? Where will they go?
Frankly, I can’t tell you. I’ve got no clue.
The team’s final three games are all against the Milwaukee Admirals – tonight’s game is in Milwaukee with the games on Saturday and Sunday being here at Toyota Center.
The Aeros are locked in a tie with the Admirals and the San Antonio Rampage, and all teams have 92 points, and all have three games remaining.
Because the Admirals and Aeros have more wins than the Rampage, the odds, right now, are that the Rampage will end up as the West Division five seed and will head over to the North Division for a first round matchup with the Toronto Marlies. And the winner of the weekend series between the Aeros and Admirals will likely be the third seed who will match up for a first round series with the IceHogs while the fourth seed will go up against the Chicago Wolves.
It’s also possible that, if the Aeros can win two of the games, or sweep the series, that they will move into the second seed and get home-ice over Rockford.
It’s also possible the Aeros will slide all of the way down to the fifth seed.
And, no matter what happens this weekend, the Aeros are going to have to proceed for the rest of the season, and possibly the playoffs, without team captain Erik Reitz. Not that this is bad news for Reitz, who has been suffering from a high ankle sprain for the past couple of months. Reitz is healthy, which makes him a welcome commodity for the parent club Minnesota Wild, who have called him up to help in their run for the Stanley Cup.
The Aeros have also, this past week, seen the return to the ice of goalie Nolan Schaefer, who’s been out since February suffering from a pulled groin, and defenseman Maxim Noreau, who was suffering from a high ankle sprain and a broken foot. The Wild also returned center Steve Kelly to Houston, so he should be available for some playoff action if he is healthy.
And I promise this, come Sunday night, I should be able to tell you who, where, and when the Aeros will be playing in the first round of the playoffs. – John Royal
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