Know Thy Enemy: IceHogs/Aeros Weekend Preview

We are teaming up with Hockey Wilderness to bring you coverage of this weekend's games between the Rockford IceHogs and the Houston Aeros.

Our friend eminemille over at Hockey Wilderness thought it would be a good idea for us to preview the Hogs/Aeros games this weekend together. So with out further ado, here is her preview of what can expect from the Houston Aeros this weekend.

This weekend’s series between the Ice Hogs and Aero’s has me pretty damn excited. Not just because it’s the farm teams of my most favorite hockey teams either. The Hogs and the Aero’s play a similar type of game, and both teams like to play physically (the sin bin is going to be plenty full over the weekend). Since SCH and HW have a pretty great banter/friendship going on, this weekend is a great time to get some full blown GDT going on to pass the time during this wretched lockout. I’ve done a little wrap up on the Aero’s for you all to get a picture of what the games might be like. Make sure to stop over at Hockey Wilderness for Greg’s wrap on the Ice Hog’s and feel free to comment over there too. I’ll be frequenting both threads, and if people would like I can live tweet Sunday’s game (at least I get to sit in my season ticket seats once this year…). So without further ado, on to the wrap up!

Aero’s to watch- The Aero’s have a pretty dynamic bunch of guys playing in forward positions. The big names to watch are Charlie Coyle (3) and Jason Zucker (16). Coyle has been one of the most consistent players, and was leading the AHL in goals scored towards the end of October. Zucker has been on fire since returning from an injury 6 games ago, scoring 6 goals in the last 5 games (including two in his last game).

Strengths and Weaknesses- The Aero’s are goal score machines. They’ve played 14 games this season, and have scored 4 or more goals in 9 of those games. This leads into our weaknesses, which is headed by horrible, horrible defense. 7 of their 14 games have ended with their opponents scoring 4 or more goals. This team is REALLY young, with 7 guys being 20 or younger. Of those 7, 5 are almost guaranteed to be top 6/top 4 guys within a few years. I have yet to decide if this is a strength or weakness, as they seem to be developing well together, but damn….20 years old in young.

Penalties- Just like the Hogs, the Aero’s like their penalties. I’ll waive my nerd flag here, and be honest about the fact that I have been tracking their penalties (thanks for the idea girlphoenix btw!). The Aero’s have been averaging 13 PIMs a game, with the captain leading the team with a whopping 37 PIMs already. The number one goalie even has multiple penalties already, weighing in at 6 PIMS.

PP/PK- I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the power play to be honest. It’s not good or bad. The Aero’s power kill is pretty damn good though. I can’t remember the exact place that the Aero’s fall in successful PKs, but last time I checked they were top 10. This is great, since they spend so much time in the box.

Goalies- The Aero’s have a pretty good tandem between Matt Hackett and Darcy Keumper. Their stats are not great at the moment, but to be completely honest it has more to do with defenders not doing their job than incompetent goal-tending.