Saturday, October 14, 2017

Texas Stars' Streak Halted with 5-1 Loss in San Diego

(Credit: Vince Rappleyea/San Diego Gulls)
A three-goal second period for the home team downed the Texas Stars this evening in San Diego. From start to finish, it was San Diego's game overall though. The Gulls opened the scoring early in the first and never trailed. Jason Dickinson got the Stars' only goal of the game late in the first period to tie things at one.

Early in the second, Steve Oleksy, former Steelhead defenseman, netted the eventual game winner. The Stars would also be pierced by a shorthanded marker and a power play goal in the contest.

Mike McKenna took his first loss of the season, stopping just 24 of 29 shots against him. San Diego's defense tightened up as Texas only managed 20 shots on Kevin Boyle, who stopped 19 of those for the win.

Of note, Sheldon Dries took the Stars' first faceoff violation penalty of the season, a more strictly enforced penalty this year at the NHL level, which has caused some level of consternation.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Bystrom, Rallo, Fyten, Dowling (scratch)
Elie (call up)

Max French played his first game of the year tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 7,109.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - October 14 2017

Texas Stars Recall Max French from Idaho Steelheads

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have recalled forward Max French from the Idaho Steelheads. French was one of the last cuts from training camp and made his pro debut last night in Idaho's 4-2 in over Norfolk.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, announced Saturday the team has recalled rookie forward Max French from their ECHL affiliate, the Idaho Steelheads.

French, 25, began the year in training camp with the Stars before making his pro debut Friday night with the Steelheads in their 4-2 win over the Norfolk Admirals. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound forward signed an AHL contract with Texas on July 12, 2017 after wrapping up a four-year career at Bentley University.

Texas closes out their weekend set against the San Diego Gulls tonight at 9 p.m. CST.

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
3-0-0-0, 6 pts, 1.000
#1 Pacific Division
atSan Diego Gulls
1-1-0-0, 2 pts, 0.500
#2 Pacific Division
October 14th at 9:00 PM
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA

With last night's win, Texas now sits in rarefied air. At 3-0, the Stars are one of only five remaining undefeated teams in the AHL after a week of play. The others are all in other divisions: Providence, Laval, Rockford and Milwaukee. Among those, only Laval has played three games like the Stars.

So what's working?

(Credit: Vince Rappleyea/San Diego Gulls)
While the team has definitely had issues prevented power play goals, it's very clear they can score them. Well, it's clear that they can score, full stop. Among teams with more than one game played, only Laval has scored more than the Stars this season so far (5.67 G/GP vs. 5.00).

Texas has a good shooting percentage at the moment (17%) and a poorer than desired save percentage. The team has to assume that the shooting percentage will dip, so the save percentage needs to increase to compensate for not scoring as many goals. Look for whether Texas can get another one-goal-against performance tonight.

Also, watch out for who starts in net. Mike McKenna has started all three games so far and Landon Bow has to figure in at some point. Is tonight that point?

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie (call up)

Gulls Web Resources:
Twitter: @SDGullsAHL
Twitter: @619sports (PBP)
Twitter: @danarelAHL

Friday, October 13, 2017

Texas Extends Season-Opening Win Streak to Three with 3-1 Win at San Diego

(Credit: Vince Rappleyea/San Diego Gulls)
In the first of many games that finished after this author's bedtime, the Stars defeated the San Diego Gulls Friday night to roll their season-opening streak to three games. They are in sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division with the win. The game was also San Diego's home opener, a sellout of 12,920.

The Stars opened the scoring with Roope Hintz collecting his second of the season off a loose puck scramble between the circles. On the power play later in the first, Travis Morin fed Curtis McKenzie for his first of the year to make it 2-0. That would be all the scoring Texas would need in the contest.

Mike McKenna locked things down with a 27 save performance. Following last week's five-goal outings, Texas and McKenna alike have to be feeling more confident in the team's defense.

Austin Ortega would net a power play goal in the third to make it close, but Matt Mangene found the empty net with eight seconds left to ice the game at 3-1.

These two teams face off again tomorrow night in San Diego.

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Regner, McNeill, Markison (scratch)
Elie (call up)

Austin Fyten and Greg Rallo both played their first game of the year tonight.

Tonight's attendance was 12,920.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Diego - October 13 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Diego Gulls

Texas Stars
2-0-0-0, 4 pts, 1.000
#2 Pacific Division
atSan Diego Gulls
1-0-0-0, 2 pts, 1.000
#3 Pacific Division
October 13th at 9:00 PM
Valley View Casino Center, San Diego, CA

Texas rolls into southern California looking to continue their winning ways but also to win the right way this weekend. Last weekend's games were fun for the fans, but as Coach Laxdal noted, not much fun for a defensively minded coaching staff. Allowing ten goals in the first two games but still getting the win speaks to the power of the team offense.

There isn't much tale of the tape for either team as San Diego has played just one game so far. It was a 7-6 win, so perhaps there are some defensive items to focus on for the Gulls as well. LW Kevin Roy had a three-point night with two goals. He scored his first pro goal against Texas last year around this time. Mitch Hults had a goal and one assist. Forward Spencer Abbott didn't have any points, but you have to imagine he's good for a few against the Stars. His time with the Marlies against the Stars was always deadly for the Texas goals against.

(Credit: Texas Stars)

Kevin Boyle mans the net for the Gulls, at least he did in their first and only game. Leland Irving is your other masked man in San Diego. The long-time AHL journeyman was traded within the AHL this week, heading from Lehigh Valley to the Gulls.

Speaking of goaltenders, one thing to watch for Texas is when the team deploys Landon Bow. Mike McKenna is a great goalie at the AHL level, but he can't play all 76 games. The early schedule is conducive to having him play a heavy load since there are so many breaks. However, the team needs to figure out what they have with Bow sooner rather than later.

Stars injury/call up report:
Bodnarchuk (upper body)
Elie (call up)

Gulls Web Resources:
Twitter: @SDGullsAHL
Twitter: @619sports (PBP)
Twitter: @danarelAHL

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Colorado Eagles Set to Join Texas Stars' Division, or Are They?

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars have a new foe in the AHL coming next season. In case you missed it, earlier this week the league announced that the Colorado Eagles will be moving up from the ECHL into the AHL, matching the 31 teams in the NHL.

The Colorado Eagles will be affiliated with the Colorado Avalanche starting next season. That will end the short-lived saga of the St. Louis Blues multiple assignment homes for their AHL players.

Texas plays in the Pacific Division this year and now the question exists of whether they will still play there next season. Further, the question also should be asked of how many games the Eagles will play in the AHL.

If you assume Colorado plays only 68 games as their fellow newcomers to the league have done, then you can start to see the argument for a Pacific Division that consists only of teams playing 68 games. That division would be comprised of seven teams:
  • Bakersfield
  • Colorado
  • Ontario
  • San Diego
  • San Jose
  • Stockton
  • Tucson
So where does that leave the Texas Stars?

Well, for better or worse, the Stars are a package deal with the Rampage. Unless Colorado gets added to the Central Division (balancing at eight each), there will be a division with nine teams.

Nine teams!

OK, maybe that doesn't make sense. Ideally, we'd be looking at 8-8-8-7 alignment. The Central Division is pretty tightly clustered aside from Manitoba and Cleveland. Here's my proposal.

Atlantic Division (8 teams, no changes)
Lehigh Valley

North Division (8 teams, adding Cleveland)

Central Division (8 teams, adding Texas and San Antonio)
Grand Rapids
San Antonio

Pacific Division (7 teams, only playing 68 games; add Colorado)
San Jose
San Diego

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dallas Stars Add Speed, Recall F Remi Elie

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Dallas recalled forward Remi Elie early this morning, adding speed to their lineup ahead of tonight's game against Detroit. They were able to pull Elie up to the NHL after Adam Cracknell was claimed off waivers by the New York Rangers.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled left wing Remi Elie from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Elie, 22, has registered one goal (1-0=1) on six shots to go along with a +3 plus/minus rating in two games for Texas this season. In 2016-17, he appeared in 18 games for Dallas recording seven points (1-6=7) and a +5 plus/minus rating. He also posted 28 points (9-19=28) in 53 regular-season games last season with Texas.

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound native of Cornwall, Ontario was originally selected by Dallas in the second round (40th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.