Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rampage go for the jugular early, Stars can't recover, lose 5-3

Remember last night, when we were all laughing at Wade Dubielewicz for letting in three goals on the first 3 shots of the game? Wasn't that fun? I imagine Rampage fans had a similar feeling after just three minutes into tonight's game. In other news, Texas Stars games have now been shortened to just 40 minutes. It seems the Stars do not need the final period, as the outcome won't change even if they do play it.

Todd Ford got the start in tonight game after Matt Climie started both other games this weekend against his former club, the Houston Aeros. Ford only last 2:34 in net before he got pulled for Climie. Ford allowed goals on two of the first three shots from Pokulok and Heshka to make it 2-0 just 214 seconds in. Climie came on in relief.

Texas allowed one more goal in the first at 7:48 when Kyle Turris beat Matt Climie on what I believe was his first shot faced of the night. Three goals in four shots. Not exactly the best way to show off to the television audience watching at home.

Mathieu Beaudoin would make it 3-1 on the power play at 11:23. Just 4 minutes later, Aaron Gagnon would receive a home-run pass from Dan Jancevski, beating Pogge gloveside high to make it 3-2. And then, we would wait.

With 1:45 left in the first period, Ray Sawada charged hard on Justin Pogge and the puck ended up in the net. It was waived off for goalie interference. Pogge took exception to Sawada getting up in his business and took him to the ice, wailing on him with his fists. The refs broke it up, and Pogge even threw someone else's stick out toward center. I don't think the refs saw that, otherwise there might have been another penalty. Pogge got a double-minor for roughing and Sawada the call for goalie interference. Texas couldn't score on the ensuing power play and went to the room down 3-2.

Texas spent the entire second period stuck at 3-2 despite many opportunities. Francis Lessard and Luke Gazdic dropped the gloves at 7:32 and continued jawing at each other from their respective penalty boxes after the play. At 15:11, Dan Jancevski was called for a delay of game for shooting the puck out of the surface from his defensive zone. There was a lot of debate and discussion about this play because the puck went out behind the San Antonio bench. Here's what the rulebook says about it:
When the puck is shot into the players’ bench, the [delay of game] penalty will not apply. When the puck is shot over the glass ‘behind’ the players’ bench, the penalty will be assessed.
So the referee was correct in his assessment of the penalty, as much as we dislike it.

The third period was mostly quiet on the scoreboard, though Texas and San Antonio seemed to trade passes at a furious pace at times. The killer play came at 17 minutes into the third period. Climie mishandled a puck behind his own net, misjudging the amount of time he had before Kevin Porter crashed in on him to pass it out to Joel Perrault for the easy 4-2 lead. Climie was pretty visibly upset by his miscue, slapping the ice and boards with his stick after the play and several times more in the period. If you're going to play in the NHL, you have to forget your mistakes instantly and refocus on the task at hand when you are scored on. Climie showed tonight (to a Texas-wide TV audience) that he's not ready for that jump yet mentally.

As the fans started pouring out of the Cedar Park Center, Texas did their best to make lemonade out of lemons. The Stars were awarded a power play for boarding at 19:02 and made good. Perttu Lindgren and Andrew Hutchinson assisted on an amazing Travis Morin goal with 37.7 seconds left. Morin caught a pass up around his chest and put it down on the ice in time to beat Justin Pogge to make it 4-3. Those who were still there roared their approval and now were on the edge of their seats. With Climie pulled for the extra man, Texas gave it their best and fell just short with San Antonio getting an empty netter with 5 seconds to go. Final score 5-3.

This game proves the importance of the first five minutes of the game. If you remember, when Texas went through its rough streak of the season one of the consistent sore points was getting scored on in the first period, often in the first five minutes. Texas was scored on twice in the first three minutes tonight. Todd Ford did not get pegged with the loss in this game because Climie let in the game winning goal (his puck mishandling goal). But realistically, we know that Climie wasn't given a fair chance to win this one. He had really earned a rest after winning two straight in back-to-back nights. Solid backups are supposed to spell the top guy in the course of the season and that is not what we are getting from Todd Ford in the month of February. Ford did not play in a single game that Texas won in February. That's not a backup you can count on.

Also, Texas is now 0-17-1-1 when trailing after the second period. Tonight's game was better than many of those before it in the third period energy department but still not enough.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin
Gazdic-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Stafford-Ludwig
Fortunus-Hutchinson
Jancevski-Stephenson

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Graham, Tousignant and Shelast (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 5,803.

Stafford and Jancevski started together on defense and then broke into their respective pairings for the rest of each period. They have done this pretty consistently since the departure of Ivan Vishnevskiy.

The mustachioed Ryan Hollweg took a slapshot to the face in the last two minutes of the game blocking a shot. I didn't see where exactly it hit him and there was no blood on the ice. (Reports now he had a tooth in his hand on the way off the ice.) I wince everytime I think about shot blocking with my face...

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Antonio - February 28 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
33-21-3-4, 73 pts
#3 West Division
v.San Antonio Rampage
26-25-3-6, 61 pts
#7 West Division
February 28th at 5:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas comes home to the Cedar Park Center triumphant after winning their past two against the Houston Aeros. The third Texas-based AHL franchise is waiting for them in Austin today to try and improve on a dismal track record thus far. Texas is 5-2-0-0 against San Antonio this season. The two teams have not faced off since January 12th when Todd Ford backstopped the Stars to a 2-0 victory over the Rampage at home.

The Rampage are also playing the final game of a 3-in-3 set on the weekend. The Rampage split with the Manitoba Moose, winning 4-0 on Friday but losing last night 3-1. The Rampage are 12 points behind the Stars in the standings and 11 behind a playoff spot and any playoffs hopes they have are fading fast. They are 5-5-0-0 in their last ten.

If you'd believe it, the Rampage are the second best team on the penalty kill on the road in the AHL. If Texas can crack that egg with their recent bout of PP goals (4 in the last two games), then things will look good for the Stars.

Justin Pogge and Josh Tordjman split time in net for the Rampage. Each has played one game this weekend already, Tordjman last night and Pogge on Friday. Pogge is 11-7-3 with a 2.55 GAA and .921 SV%. Tordjman is 11-14-2 with a 2.76 GAA and .910 SV%. Of the two, Tordjman is the only one with a win against Texas. Pogge has dropped two contests. Goalie Al Montoya, who has been sidelined since December with an upper-body injury, played in the first four games against Texas, going 1-3-0. The Rampage are led in scoring by Brett MacLean (24-21-45) and Kyle Turris (16-24-40). The Stars would do well to be weary of Francis Lessard, whose 194 PIMs rank him 5th in the league.

In the standings for Texas, they still hold onto third over Milwaukee by one point. The Admirals also play today at Peoria, so Texas must pick up points today to keep pace. Rockford leads the Stars by four point, but the IceHogs have played two more games than the Stars. If the Stars were to win those games, they'd be tied. There's still hope there for something as great as a #2 ranking here. Even with Chicago's two recent losses after going 12-0-0-2, I don't think that Texas or anyone has enough in the tank to catch the Wolves.

Today's game will also be broadcast on FOX Sports Southwest. So get out to the arena, be loud and bring your friends so we can show the rest of the southwest how Austin does hockey!

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Twitter: @SARampage

Amazing story about Brent Krahn in Dallas Morning News

Wow. Michael Brick of the Dallas Morning News has written an amazing story about Brent Krahn and his struggles to make it to the NHL. I was very touched by the story and its excellent writing. Brent is facing an uphill battle, and we need to give him all the support we can to get back in net. Here's the link:

The Dallas Morning News: Texas Stars goalie sticking with dream despite long odds

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stars pummel Aeros for second night, win 5-2

Matt Climie and Wade Dubielewicz got the starts in net tonight for these two teams. I think the fact that one of them left the game with a 0.00 save percentage tells the story of the game. That and the fact that there were a combined 82 minutes of penalties.

Texas drew first blood two minutes in when a power play point shot from Stafford was deflected by Francis Wathier for his 11th of the year. But the Aeros would storm back for the equalizer just 80 seconds later. Bad rebound control from Climie and Garrett Stafford inability to cover his man, Fraser, led to an easy 1-1 tie for the Aeros.

Andrew Hutchinson would have the next tally, creeping down the left side to accept Colton Sceviour's cross-ice pass to make it 2-1. At 10:19, Matt Kassian and Travis Morin took offsetting minors after Kassian rammed Scott McCulloch, likely in retaliation for last night's boarding of an Aeros player by Smooch.

Texas would score its third of the game at the 14:38 mark when Mathieu Tousignant scored just his third of the year. To that point, Dubielewicz had faced three shots and allowed three goals for a save percentage of zero. He was given the hook and Barry Brust came in to relieve him. The Stars would finish the period with three goals on three shots, the Aeros with one goal on nine shots.

Dan Jancevski made it 4-1 on a similar play to Andrew Hutchinson's goal. He came down the left wing side and simply snapped one five-hole on Brust on the power play. It was only Jancevski's second goal of the year.

The rest of the game got pretty taxing on the guys running the penalty boxes. In the third period alone, there were 64 minutes of penalties. Rallo and Stafford mixed it up with Almond and Daoust behind Matt CLimie half way through the period, resulting in a lengthy five-on-three that the Aeros could not score on. In fact, the usually strong Aeros power play was impotent tonight at zero for eight opportunities. Texas was 2/7, the same mark they achieved last night against Houston.

On the power play with 4 minutes left in the game, goaltender Matt Climie came out nearly to the blue line to pass the puck along to Garrett Stafford. Problem is, he had not noticed that Stafford had been overtaken by Aeros skater Sifers, who easily score a practically empty-net short-handed goal to make it 4-2 with four minutes left. Houston would take a minor shortly there after, killing their shot to get the necessary two goals without pulling the keeper. With 56 seconds left and Brust on the bench, Texas forward Perttu Lindgren netted an empty-net goal from the defensive blue line to seal it at 5-2.

At this point, most of the crowd at Contender's seemed ready to go home. The Aeros had other plans involving their fists and the Stars' faces. A clean hit on Francis Wathier devolved into a scrum between Wathier, Sawada, Falk, and Kassian in front of the Stars bench. Falk and Sawada got five for fighting; Wathier and Matt Kassian took two each for roughing. Falk took an additional two for charging. And finally, Matt Kassian took a total of 22 penalty minutes for being the third man into an already occurring fight, including a game misconduct.

It's pretty clear that after losing to Texas in seven of their nine games against them, the Aeros do not like the Stars very much. Texas and Houston square off again at Cedar Park Center next Friday and then will not see each other until the last week of the season in early April. Maybe 12 games a year can breed a good rivalry instead of just boredom at seeing the same team every night.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin
Lindgren-Tousignant-Beaudoin

Stafford-Ludwig
Fortunus-Hutchinson
Jancevski-Stephenson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Graham, Gazdic and Shelast (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 8,711.

Stafford and Jancevski started together on defense and then broke into their respective pairings for the rest of each period. They have done this pretty consistently since the departure of Ivan Vishnevskiy.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Houston - February 27 2010

Alex Auld claimed off re-entry waivers by NY Rangers

Texas Stars goalie Alex Auld has been claimed off re-entry waivers by the New York Rangers. With Auld's record, it was never realistic to expect he'd play for Texas. Here's the release:
Goaltender Alex Auld has been claimed by the New York Rangers off NHL re-entry waivers this morning. Per NHL rules, the Rangers and Stars will each pay half of the remainder of Auld's contract, which expires on June 30, 2010; Auld has been added to New York's NHL roster. The goaltender cleared regular NHL waivers on Thursday and was assigned to the Texas Stars, Dallas' primary minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League. Auld was then placed on NHL re-entry waivers on Friday.

Auld, 29, played in 21 games for Dallas this season, posting a 9-6-3 record with a 3.00 GAA and a .894 save percentage. The 6-4, 214-pound goaltender has appeared in 204 career NHL games, going 83-81-28 with six shutouts. Auld was acquired via trade with Ottawa on July 8, 2009, for a sixth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
32-21-3-4, 71 pts
#3 West Division
atHouston Aeros
28-26-6-1, 63 pts
#5 West Division
February 27th at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

As usual, back-to-back games get the shorter treatment on the gameday preview side because most of what we discussed yesterday still applies. Texas is now 6-1-0-1 against Houston and faces them again tonight in Houston. Of course, the biggest thing about tonight's game is the fact that it will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southwest for your viewing pleasure at home. I personally will be out at Contender's at the watching party.

With Brust now starting two games in a row, Houston would have to be suicidal to not start Wade Dubielewicz tonight. Also, a storyline to watch for tonight is Scott McCulloch. Houston will likely be looking to mix it up with the Stars forward who was ejected from the game last night for cross-checking in the first period. That is, if Smoochie isn't suspended.

Josh will still be doing radio, so if you're a purist, you can do the TV muted and listen to the radio thing. Hope to see you at Contender's.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros

Friday, February 26, 2010

Texas ends losing streak, shoots down Aeros 3-2

Texas pulled itself out of a 3 game losing streak with a 3-2 win tonight over Houston in Cedar Park. Texas is now 6-1-0-1 against Houston this season and will face them tomorrow night at the Toyota Center.

Matt Climie made his first start in almost three weeks for Texas, coming off a viral infection that sidelined him for the team's roadtrip. Just 5 minutes into the game, Scott McCulloch was given a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for cross checking in the Texas zone. Texas killed off the 5 minute penalty and ultimately went 5-for-5 on the kill tonight. McCulloch's hit will surely be reviewed by the league.

With nine seconds left in the penalty, Nathan Smith took a goaltender interference call in the Texas crease. On the ensuing power play, Andrew Hutchinson ripped a shot from the point that bounced off Brust's pads to Mathoeu Beaudoin, who maneuvered around Brust to score his 15th of the season, a power play goal.

Just two minutes later, with Texas again on the power play for Peter Zingoni's slashing minor, Hutchinson again slapped one from the point that was collected on a bad rebound by Travis Morin and put in for his 15th of the season as well. Texas was up 2-0 on a pair of PP goals.

Texas's final goal of the night came eight minutes into the second with Sergei Korostin on garbage duty in front of the net. Brust was out of his net in the scrum and Korostin put it in for a 3-0 Texas advantage. It was Korostin's 2nd of the month in 6 games.

Just over a minute later, a tricky play robbed Climie of the shutout. Jamie Fraser poked at a puck against the post that Climie desperately tried to freeze. It came free and creeped along the goal line behind Matt. Ray Sawada tried to handle the puck to freeze it against Climie but ended up tapping it just over the goal line for a 3-1 mark.

The last goal of the game was scored just 5 minutes later with Cody Almond beating Climie from the low left-wing circle with a shot that never left the ice and crept under his right pad for a 3-2 score.

Texas shut it down in the third and left the near-sellout crowd happy with a W. Texas outshot Houston in all three period and managed 37 total shots on Barry Brust. Matt Climie saw 28 shots and saved 26. Warren Peters was highly penalized in the contest with interference, tripping and boarding calls all going against him. I think most of them were examples of good hockey plays that were executed with a little bit too much enthusiasm/attitude. I prefer that to the alternative, though.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin
Lindgren-Tousignant-Beaudoin

Stafford-Graham
Fortunus-Hutchinson
Jancevski-Stephenson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)
Gazdic and Shelast (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 6,510.

Stafford and Jancevski started together on defense and then broke into their respective pairings for the rest of each period. They have done this pretty consistently since the departure of Ivan Vishnevskiy.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - February 26 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
31-21-3-4, 69 pts
#4 West Division
v.Houston Aeros
28-25-6-1, 63 pts
#5 West Division
February 26th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars return home from their second longest road trip of the season to play their next nine in the state of Texas and seven of those at home in the Cedar Park Center.

Tonight's opponent, the familiar Houston Aeros, are nipping at the Stars' heels in the West Division playoff race. The Aeros aren't picking up points at a torrid pace, but are staying relatively close behind the Stars. Texas comes into tonight's game with a 3 game losing streak after going 2-3-0 on their road trip. Houston is on the second game of a 3-in-3. They played last night in Houston, losing to Manitoba 3-2. Here's is The Third Intermission's postgame wrap for that game.

Texas and Houston will face each other a total of 12 times this season. They have already squared off seven times, and Texas has had the clear advantage. The Stars have gone 5-1-0-1, collecting points in six of the seven contests. Texas is 2-1 in the home contests this year against Houston.

Houston has had a bit of a goalie rollercoaster recently themselves. NHL #1 Niklas Backstrom and #2 Josh Harding have had injury issues recently, triggering the callup of multiple Aeros tenders. Anton Khudobin, who has faced the Stars in four games this year going 1-3, is currently in Minnesota with the Wild. This leaves Wade Dubielewicz and Barry Brust between the pipes for Houston. Dubie is 12-11-0 on the season with a 2.51 GAA and .903 SV%. He has faced the Stars five times and is 1-2 in those games (Khudobin replaced him in two games and took the loss in both). The only goaltender the Stars haven't seen in Barry Brust, who is 6-5-1 on the season in 13 games with a 2.48 GAA and .905 SV%. The Aeros leading scorer, Maxim Noreau, blocked a shot off his foot last night and may not play today.

The Aeros are 4-6-0-0 in their last ten games. Their special teams are scary on the road. The Aeros are #2 on the road power play at 21.1% and #4 on road PK at 85.5%. The Stars, of course, being a defensive team, rock out the penalty kill at home with 88.7% for #3 in the league. Texas doesn't do so well on the power play but still ranks #12 at 19.5%. Houston also has a curious stat line of being 3-12-0-0 when trailing after two on the road. Texas needs to be vigilant in the third with this team. They have some ability to strike back. Also, the Stars have yet to win when trailing after two, going 0-16-1-1 overall and 0-8-0-0 at home.

From the "On The Ice" Report on Wednesday, Danielle and Josh indicated that the game was selling well so let's hope for a sellout crowd!

Also, if you are signed up or want to signup to travel with Stars fans to see Texas in San Antonio on the 12th of March, don't forget that Teresa will be collecting money tonight and Sunday in front of Guest Services during both intermissions.

I suggest that you read up on the Aeros at their unofficial blog (like this blog) at The Third Intermission.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Road Trip!! See the Texas Stars in San Antonio with HDH

Hundred Degree Hockey is taking it on the road in two weeks. Frequent commenter, StarryEyed, has put together a road trip to see the Texas Stars take on the San Antonio Rampage at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on March 12th. Come out and meet other Texas Stars nerds and devotees. Tickets are right behind the Stars bench! Here are all the details:
Come join us in San Antonio on Friday, March 12 as your Texas Stars take on the San Antonio Rampage in the battle for the Lone Star Cup!

We have arranged for a bus to pick us up at 4:30 pm and take us down to San Antonio and group tickets for the game sitting right behind our boys on the visitor's bench. $44 per person gets you great seats at the game with other Stars fans and a leisurely trip to and from San Antonio with no worries about traffic or driving after enjoying a beer or two at the game.

There are only 14 seats left, so hurry and reserve your spot by emailing Teresa.Stewart (at) gmail.com or going to the Texas Stars fan messageboard. Don't miss out on a great opportunity to support your team at an away game, and meet and hang out with other fans!

Goalie Alex Auld assigned to Texas Stars

I'm posting this release from the Dallas Stars in a perfunctory manner. Alex Auld did clear waivers today at 11 AM and has been assigned to the Texas Stars. However, assignment and reporting are two different things. I don't think we'll see Auld between the pipes for Texas this year.

Additionally, now Auldie can be had for half his remaining salary, which is only about $250,000. Dallas would pay $125k and the club acquiring him would pay $125k. With Alex's record, I don't think it's a stretch to see him somewhere else in the NHL soon. Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced today that goaltender Alex Auld has cleared NHL waivers and has been assigned to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ primary minor league affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Auld, 29, has played in 21 games for Dallas this season, posting a 9-6-3 record with a 3.00 GAA and a .894 save percentage. The 6-4, 214-pound goaltender has appeared in 204 career NHL games, going 83-81-28 with six shutouts. He went 6-1-0 in his last seven home starts and won back-to-back starts four times this season. Auld was acquired via trade with Ottawa July 8, 2009 for a sixth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bachman to Idaho, Ford re-signed

Richard Bachman was assigned to Idaho today after a 5 game stint in Austin. He started four games and was 2-2-0 with his first AHL shutout. Additionally, Ford's PTO expired and Texas has re-upped him for another 25 games. Here's the release.

The Texas Stars announced on Wednesday that goalie Richard Bachman has been assigned to the Idaho Steelheads, Texas’ ECHL Affiliate. Texas also announced that goalie Todd Ford has been re-signed to a 25-game PTO (professional tryout agreement).

Bachman has played in six games for the Stars this season, recording a 2.07 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. The rookie netminder leaves Texas with a 3-3-0 record. During his latest recall, Bachman recorded his first career AHL shutout with 17 saves in a 5-0 win at Hamilton on Feb. 16. Bachman returns to Idaho, where he was 14-5-3 with a 2.31 goals against average and a .909 save percentage.

The 22-year old was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fourth round (#120 overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Bachman played the previous two seasons with Colorado College, posting a 39-20-11 record with a 2.24 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. In two NCAA seasons, he posted seven shutouts.

Ford was re-signed after his previous 25-game PTO expired. The 25-year old has appeared in 11 games for Texas this season, posting 4-5-1 record with a 2.68 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts. Prior to signing with the Stars in late December, the Calgary, AB native played in 24 games for the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, posting a 16-6-1 mark with a 2.88 goals against average, a .910 save percentage and one shutout.

Texas Stars "On The Ice" report on ESPN Austin

The Bottom Line's Chip Brown and Sean Adams had Josh Fisher and Danielle Eldridge, "Senior Director - Corporate Sales", on for the "On The Ice" report today at 3:40 on 104.9 FM.

Topics include Hockey 'n' Heels, FSN coverage of this weekend's games, Krahn and Wilson's injuries, Carson McMillan, the Olympics, and upcoming promotions.

Dallas G Alex Auld placed on waivers, could join Texas

Multiple sources report that Dallas Stars backup goalie Alex Auld has been placed on waivers by the club. It is expected now that Marty Turco will be staying with Dallas through the end of the season with Kari Lehtonen backing him up. This means we could see Auld in Texas for the Stars if the right sequence of events happens.

The Forth Worth Star-Telegram's five for fighting has a good explanation of what would need to happen to see "tall, bald Alex Auld" in Austin, Texas:
"Auld, who makes $1 million this season, will go through waivers. If he is not picked up, he will be sent through recall waivers and [other NHL] teams will get a shot at him for half his remaining salary. If no team picks him up, he will be assigned to the Texas Stars. It is not expected that he will return to practice with the [Dallas] unless there is an injury."
Auld is 9-6-3 in 21 games played with a 3.00 GAA and a .894 SV%. Auld has played 150 AHL games, all but two of them for the Manitoba Moose. He has played 204 games in the NHL and started 186 of them. Career in the NHL, he has a 83-81-2-26 record (W-L-T-OTL) with a 2.78 GAA and .904 SV%.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stars drop third straight, lose to Rivermen 4-3

Texas has now lost to the three worst teams in the West Conference in three games in a row. The Stars are clinging for their lives to the last playoff spot in the West Division. Let's get to the play-by-play.

Todd Ford got the start in net tonight with Matt Climie back in pads to ride the pine for the evening. Peoria came out firing and got a lot of early chances on Ford. They had already generated five shots when they scored 93 seconds into the game on the 6th.

Halfway through the period, some tough work by Andrew Hutchinson generated a shot on goal. Toivonen's puck control alluded him and he gave up a pudgy rebound to Aaron Gagnon who did not fail. The game was tied 1-1 nine minutes in.

Late in the period, Mitch Love got a boarding call for a strong hit on Gazdic. Luke was a little slow to get up but continued to play. Texas did not score again in the period but won the shots battle 11-7, a rarity.

Andrew Hutchinson had some good chances early in the second period again with the Gagnon line but couldn't score. At the 7 minute mark, a Nate Guenin shot also led to a large rebound by Ford which Sonne cashed in on for a 2-1 lead.

Just two minutes later, Texas went on the power play with a hooking call on Lepine. Fifty-eight seconds later, Strachan cross-checked a Texas player to make it a 5-on-3. Texas had a few shots but did not score. The two-man advantage ended when Aaron Gagnon took an interference minor. The penalties all ended without incident on the scoresheet. Texas's game-tying goal was scored by Scott McCulloch on a wrap-around on the left post at 15:42 of the second. The radio audience missed this goal due to an overlapping commercial break (Felt like I was watching the Olympics on NBC).

Sergei Korostin took an unnecessary hooking call five minutes into the period and Peoria made good on the chance. A shot from Junland went off Drazenovic in front to beat Ford at the six minute mark for a 3-2 Rivermen lead. At 13 minutes, Ford again gave up a goal, this time off his pads, a "bad goal" if you will, scored unassisted by Porter.

Texas would go on the power play almost immediately thereafter. Glen Gulutzan got tricky and pulled Ford for the extra skater to make it 6-on-4. Maxime Fortunus made sure he didn't look foolish by burying one on the pass from Lindgren to make it 4-3. Down by one, Texas only had 2:47 to tie it up.

Ford was pulled again just after a faceoff with 1:16 left. With the extra skater, Aaron Gagnon just missed Hutchinson with 30 seconds left and it would be Texas's last serious attempt at the net.

Texas was even across the board, scoring one in each period. However, Ford's last goal against was the difference. There was no video feed for me tonight, so I did not see how "bad" of a goal it was. Apparently he lost sight of it in his skates and let it roll in. Hopefully we'll see it on the highlights. After going 4-0-1 in January, Ford is now 0-5-0 in February. I hate to be fickle, but why aren't we using Bachman and Climie? I think Bachman's earned it.

Between the two teams tonight, there were only 12 minutes of penalties. I expected more between Peoria and Texas. There weren't any fighting majors either. Certainly that could have helped the energy.

Tonight's lines:
Gazdic-Peters-Sawada
Rallo-Morin-Wathier
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Sceviour-Gagnon-Korostin

Stafford-Graham
Fortunus-Hutchinson
Jancevski-Stephenson

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)
Bachman, Tousignant, and Shelast (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 3,814.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Peoria - February 23 2010

Aeros' Carson McMillan suspended for weekend's games v. Texas

The last time the Aeros were in town, Carson McMillan was a central figure in the game. At 11:19 of the second, McMillan sucker punched Mathieu Tousignant behind the net after the refs have intervened in a fight and got a four game suspension. You better believe he was going to be targeted in this weekend's coming games.

Unfortunately, the rematch won't be in the cards this week. McMillan is suspended for the next four games, including the games against Texas this weekend, for his 'actions' in the Aeros' game against Chicago on Sunday. With thanks to The 3rd Intermission, here's the hit on YouTube:



Revenge will have to wait. Here's the release.
The American Hockey League today announced that Houston Aeros right wing Carson McMillan has been suspended for four (4) games as a result of his actions in a game at Chicago on Feb. 20.

McMillan was suspended under the provisions of AHL Rule 29.1 (supplementary discipline).

McMillan will miss Houston’s games Thursday (Feb. 25) vs. Manitoba, Friday (Feb. 26) at Texas, Saturday (Feb. 27) vs. Texas and Mar. 3 at San Antonio.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Peoria Rivermen

Texas Stars
31-20-3-4, 69 pts
#4 West Division
atPeoria Rivermen
25-25-1-5, 56 pts
#7 West Division
February 23rd at 7:00 PM
Carver Arena, Peoria, IL

Tonight Texas plays its sixth game of the season against the division rival Peoria Rivermen. I think it's fair to say that these two teams do not like each other. I know the fans in Texas don't get warm fuzzies for the Rivermen, that's for sure. Texas has had some issues putting away the Rivermen on the occasional night, going 2-2-1-0 on the season against them.

The last meeting between the two teams was a weekend set in Cedar Park that ended in a split. Peoria took the Friday night game 6-3, and Texas bounced back and owned the Saturday night game 5-0. Unfortunately, Texas has gone 2-5-0-0 since then. Texas is currently at 3-7-0-0 in the last ten games and is dropping point gaining opportunities left and right. Winnable games against Toronto and Grand Rapids have passed them by to end up as Ls on the record book. Meanwhile, the Stars perplexed the Bulldogs, the top team in the West Conference, in a 5-0 rout in Hamilton last week. What is this team's identity? Is Texas really a playoff team?

Meanwhile, back to Peoria. The Rivermen are 1-5-0-0 since last playing the Texas Stars. Their only win came against the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday. Peoria is top 10 in the league on the power play at home but ranks 25 of 29 on the home penalty kill. The Rivermen take 18.30 PIMs per game, placing them #10 in the league.

Three players are tied for the goals lead at 14: Derek Armstrong, Barry Tallackson, and Julian Talbot. Lars Eller tops the points race for the Rivermen at 36. Hannu Toivonen and Ben Bishop split time between the pipes for Peoria. Both have played against the Stars this season. Toivonen is 1-1-0-1 against the Stars, and the monsterous 6'7 Ben Bishop is 2-0-0-0. Bishop has played more games on the season at 34 to Toivonen's 24. Both have a GAA of approximately 2.81.

After tonight's game, Texas plays its next nine games in the great state of Texas, seven of those at the Cedar Park Center. All of the remaining 21 games on the schedule except for one (March 27 at Grand Rapids) pit Texas against West Division foes. Get ready for Houston and San Antonio nine more times before the season is out. Now is the time to pick up points and seal the deal for a march to the playoffs.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Climie (day-to-day with viral infection), Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)

Website: rivermen.net
Blog (unofficial): Cleve's World
Twitter: @peoria_rivermen

Monday, February 22, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: A Grand Tour of the Northeast

Time for the weekly fill-in for the folks up in Dallas on the goings-on here in Austin. This week, I mostly covered the games that we played since there were so many. Also discussed the coming schedule for the Stars and their rank in the standings. Give it a read!

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: A Grand Tour of the Northeast

Around The League: The Spring Carousel Begins

A few notes on the franchise situations around the AHL to satisfy puckheads craving AHL info:
  • Milwaukee and Nashville have extended their affiliation agreement until 2011-2012 with a mutual option for a third year. [Milwaukee Admirals]

  • The rumor mill suggests that Columbus is unhappy with their affiliation agreement with Syracuse and may not renew at the end of the year. From the article:
    "There are 18 independently owned AHL franchises, some possessing contracts enabling them to annually opt out of agreements."
    Texas is not in this category, since the team is owned by Dallas. Also, here's a list from the same article of the longest existing affiliation agreements in the AHL:

    1. Boston / Providence (1992)
    2. N.Y. Rangers / Hartford (1997)
    3. Nashville / Milwaukee (1998)
    4. Pittsburgh / Wilkes-Barre-Scranton (1999)
    5. Columbus / Syracuse (2000)

    That last one might be in jeopardy now...[Columbus Dispatch]

  • Down in the ECHL, there are a couple of minor changes afoot other than the upgrade of the Charlotte Checkers to the AHL. Todd Ford and Travis Morin's old boss, South Carolina Stingrays president, Darren Abbott, is bolting to the Manchester Monarchs (AHL). Also, the Stockton Thunder are having issues with negotiations with the city. Shows how important it is to own the arena you play in. [Blades' Blog]

  • Prodigal Hockey closed their contest to submissions for the name for the new AHL team to play in Oklahoma City next season. Apparently there were over 20,000 submissions. [Prodigal Hockey]

  • Hamilton Bulldogs are working on resolving lease agreement for Copps Coliseum for next year. [Hamilton Spectator]

  • Good general overview of where Dave Andrews, AHL Commissioner, sees the leagues going and how he manages and grows the AHL. [The Hockey News]

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stars fall short again, lose to Griffins 5-4

The Stars opened up the scoring just three minutes in on a slick move by the top line forwards. Greg Rallo made a spin move against the grain behind the net to Aaron Gagnon out front who beat Larsson to make it 1-0. Ethan Graham had his first point as a Star on the play with the second assist.

The Stars power play looked good on early chances in the period, but no chances came of it. Ethan Graham got a his first Texas goal eight minutes after his first assist as a Star. Graham's shot from the point over Larsson's left shoulder made it 2-0. The Griffins called a much needed timeout after allowing 2 goals on 7 shots. We would go to the break still at 2-0.

The Griffins came out of the break energized, scoring on a redirect in front just 44 seconds into the period. The Stars had a lot of great chances on the power play just a few minutes later for Kindl's delay of game. Travis Morin missed an open net chance that he had to get off very quickly.

Doug Janik, the one-time Stars prospect, scored on a shot where Bachman was screened from the point to make it 2-2. Hutchinson would take a hooking minor with 4 minutes left in the 2nd and Grand Rapids would score on a one-timer from the bottom of the left win circle. Bachman actually got in front of the shot but it wasn't fully controlled and trickled in. Remember now that Texas is 0-15-1-1 when trailing after two.

Texas wasn't done quite yet though. A bad rebound by Larsson on a Wathier shot came right to Greg Rallo in the slot who buried it to tie the score at three a piece. Texas had a lot of chances in the moments after that goal, including a point blank chance by Sergei Korostin. Korostin was unable to score, perhaps gripping his stick a bit tightly after being out of the lineup for so many games.

Matt Stephenson's minor for hooking led to a Griffins power play goal to make it 4-3. Bachman thought he had the puck but it popped loose on the left side and Rissmiller puts it in on a mad scramble

Justin Abdelkader would close out the scoring for the Griffins to make it 5-3. Todd Ford came in with 11 minutes left in the game to relieve Bachman. Texas would pull Ford with 90 seconds left in the game for the extra skater. Aaron Gagnon managed one, with assists from Beaudoin and Hutchinson, but Texas could not get a second and the score ended at 5-4. Texas is now 1-4-0-0 against Grand Rapids and has a 0-16-1-1 record when trailing after two periods.

The Griffins seem to have the Stars number this season. Despite being one of the worst teams in the league, they always come to play against Texas, taking four of the five contests played. Daniel Larsson has started all of the wins, giving him a 4-0-0-0 record against Texas.

Tonight's lines:
McCulloch-Gagnon-Rallo
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Lindgren-Morin-Beaudoin
Sceviour-Tousignant-Korostin

Stafford-Graham
Fortunus-Hutchinson
Jancevski-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)
Climie (day-to-day "strep-type" infection)
Gazdic and Shelast (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 5,687.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Grand Rapids - February 21 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
31-19-3-4, 69 pts
#3 West Division
atGrand Rapids Griffins
24-30-2-1, 51 pts
#7 North Division
February 21st at 3:00 PM
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

The Stars are back in action today against more of the dregs of the North Division. On Friday, Texas faced off against the #6 team in the North, Toronto, and left with an L. Today Texas faces the worst team in the North Division, the worst team in the West Conference, and the 3rd worst team in the entire league. The Stars have already played the Griffins four times, going 1-3-0-0. The only win came at home in the Stars' 6th game of the season on October 15th.

The Stars got shut down by Grand Rapids in a very disheartening game at the Cedar Park Center 2-1 on February 9th. The Griffins had a certain jump in their step that night, and the Stars could not match intensity. Texas went on to close out their home stand with two losses against the Wolves and are 2-3-0-0 since the loss to the Griffins. The Griffins are 1-2-2-0 since the game and are currently on a four game losing streak since rocking the Aeros 7-2 in Houston. The Griffins are coming off a tough game last night against Peoria wherein they were up 3-0 after 22 minutes, then surrendered five straight for a 5-3 loss.

The Griffins are talented with Patrick Rissmiller leading the charge. Daniel Larsson was the goalie who stymied 30 of 31 shots last time in Austin and he may be back again tonight with McCollum starting last night. Grand Rapids is mid-pack on both the power play and the penalty kill. They do not take a terribly large number of penalties (15.16, 7th fewest in the league), but are coming off a game where they combined with Peoria for 64 minutes of penalties. Of course, that's a bit of Peoria's game coming out as well, since we know what kind of team they are.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Climie (day-to-day with viral infection), Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey>

Friday, February 19, 2010

Texas can't mount comeback, falls to Toronto 2-1

Richard Bachman got his third straight start in net in four nights. Very early in the game, the Stars were even on shots but by the time the Marlies scored their first, the Stars had been doubled up at 6-3. Ben Ondrus put one past Bachman at 8:15 of the first. Ondrus's shot from the left circle beat Bachman over the right shoulder. From there, Texas was outshot 12-2 for a total of 18-5 in the period. It was like they had crawled into a shell. Luke Gazdic threw down with Phil Oreskovic with 29 seconds left in the first period to try and put more energy into the match.

Texas managed to outshoot the Marlies in the 2nd period but couldn't cash in on opportunities. Texas came up empty on 2 PP opportunites on the period. The Stars had some segments of the second where they maintained control as if they were on the power play, but the Marlies stayed strong and did not allow the goal or take a penalty from exhaustion. Toronto was given an early power play opportunity when McCulloch was called for high-sticking. It only took 18 seconds for Engel to score and put the Marlies up by two. That score would not change through the end of the 2nd. Coming into tonight's game, the Stars had a 0-14-1-1 record when trailing after two and the Marlies a 13-0-2-2 record when leading after two.

For most of the period, the game was relatively quiet. Through 16 minutes, there were only six shots between the two teams. On the Stars 2nd shot of the period, Perttu Lindgren buried one behind Joey MacDonald to end the shutout bid. Travis Morin skated down the left side and got a pass off to Lindgren, who was skating backwards across the tops of the circles from left to right. Texas had 4:17 to even it up.

Bachman was pulled with just under a minute left for the extra Texas skater but it wouldn't make a difference. Once again, Texas could not win a game they trailed after two. Being able to win a game that you trail after two might come in handy if you want to win a Calder Cup someday. After the Stars first goal of the night, they played fast and furious and had a lot of chances. Why not play that way for the entire 3rd period? Clearly the defensive style of play that the Stars execute can have its drawbacks and disadvantages. Trying to get back into a game where you're down is certainly one of them. Next time we're down going into the third, the d-men need to be more aggressive on offense and more willing to pinch and come down to help to play. I would be worried for the Stars chances at playoff glory if they can't muster a 3rd period comeback win even once in the season.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Gagnon-Rallo
Lindgren-Morin-Beaudoin
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sceviour

Fortunus-Hutchinson
Stafford-Graham
Jancevski-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (undisclosed injury)
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Climie (day-to-day "strep-type" infection)
Korostin and Shelast (scratched)

Ethan Graham made his debut with the Stars tonight and wears #21. It appears that Trevor Ludwig has some sort of injury from Wednesday's game.

Brent Krahn joined Josh Fisher in the booth for the 1st and 2nd intermissions. Krahn said he has no projection on when he's going to return to the ice and right now he's taking it a day at a time.

The Stars were outshot 33-22 in the game.

Tonight's attendance was 3,742.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Toronto - February 19 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Toronto Marlies

Texas Stars
31-18-3-4, 69 pts
#2 West Division
atToronto Marlies
21-26-5-5, 52 pts
#6 North Division
February 19th at 6:00 PM
Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, ON

Texas is hot on the trail of West division leader, Chicago. After winning their last two games in commanding fashion on the road, the Stars look to continue their streak against the North Division's Toronto Marlies.

Texas and Toronto have tangled once already this season in Cedar Park. The game was a sellout affair back on January 15th, also a Friday night. Texas won 5-1 in front of a standing room only crowd. Since the matchup, Texas is 7-5-1-0 and Toronto is 6-8-0-3. The Marlies are coming off a come-from-behind win against the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday night.

Despite their record, the Marlies are still packed with talent. Leading scorer Andrew Deveaux has 14 goals and 18 assists but is also a bruiser with 155 PIMs. Also watch out for Viktor Stalberg, a highly touted rookie winger, who has scored 30 points in only 34 games.

Toronto takes a lot of penalties, #2 in the AHL at 22.79 minutes per game. They stop 83.3% of power play opportunities against and are similarly midpack on the power play at home. As far as goals, Texas allows the second fewest goals in the league at 2.34, but Toronto allows the second most at 3.53. The stats seem to be pointing favorably in the Stars' direction.

If this wasn't enough, we know very well that the Stars are an excellent 2nd period team, outscoring opponents 62-40 in the middle frame. By contrast, Toronto has been doubled up in the middle period on the season at 42-87. The time to win this game is in the second stanza, surely.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Climie (day-to-day with viral infection)

Website: torontomarlies.com
Blog (official): Bart's Bytes
Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

Texas Stars sign defenseman Graham to PTO

Since the departure of Texas Stars D Ivan Vishnevskiy, the Stars have been riding six defenseman, which can be a dangerous proposition in such an injury prone sport. To that end, the Texas Stars announced today that they have signed Ethan Graham, most recently of the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL, to a professional tryout contract. Interestingly enough, Graham has also played in 17 games in the AHL with the two Admirals teams, Milwaukee and Norfolk. Graham also played in the Stars organization at one point, playing 47 games with the Iowa Stars in 2007-08.
The Texas Stars announced on Friday the team has signed defenseman Ethan Graham to a PTO (professional tryout agreement).

Graham joins the Texas Stars from the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL, where he’s played in 18 games this season, totaling two goals and nine assists for 11 points. The third-year defender also played for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals and Milwaukee Admirals this year. Graham was scoreless in one game with Milwaukee and tallied four points (1g-3a) in 16 games with Norfolk.

In all, the Xenia, OH native has played in 155 professional games, including 91 AHL contests. In 2007-08, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder played in 47 games with the Iowa Stars as a rookie. In 2008-09, Graham played in 27 games for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. For his AHL career, the defenseman has eight assists and ten points. Graham played his college hockey at Michigan State University, winning a National Title in 2007.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bachman leads Texas to 3-1 win over Syracuse

Texas took care of business for the second straight night behind the solid play of goalie Richard Bachman and an opportunistic power play.

Bachman got the start in net for the Stars for the second straight night. He came into the game with just over four straight periods of shutout hockey (87:16). The Stars had to kill an early power play chance for the Crunch on Sawada's holding minor.

The Crunch's enforcer, Jon Mirasty, squared off with Luke Gazdic at 7:21 of the first after Mirasty's hit on Stephenson. Throughout the entire fight, Mirasty laughed and smiled maniacally. It was a very strange sight to see, indeed.

Throughout the first, the Stars got their chances. Mathieu Beaudoin and Francis Wathier both had strong plays in the period on net. Texas was outshot in the first 9 to 7.

The Stars came out shooting in the second period, racking up six shots in the first four minutes of the period. The Stars had chances on the power play but weren't able to convert early.

Mathieu Beaudoin broke the scoreless tie on the power play 13 minutes in to the period. A shot from the right point by Garrett Stafford gave Beaudoin a great rebound chance which he roofed to make it 1-0.

To close the period, Matt Stephenson and Picard squared off after a hit by Stephenson. Picard took an instigator penalty on the play as well and the requisite ten minute misconduct that goes with it. Picard also took a game misconduct for abuse of officials for arguing the call.

The Crunch evened up the game in the third period after a series of deft passes in the zone, much like a power play. Liffiton was the eventual goal scorer from the left point, ending Bachman's 134:58 of shutout time. The pace of the game picked up notably after the goal, with Bachman making a series of key saves to keep the game even, including a sassy glove grab less than 30 seconds after the goal.

With 9 minutes left, Aaron Gagnon split the defense coming in from the neutral zone and won a footrace to the crease and managed to whack the puck up over Lalande. The biscuit snuck in under the crossbar for a 2-1 Texas lead.

The Crunch would pull Lalande with over a minute left and Greg Rallo would make good on the empty net. After blocking a pass in the Texas zone, Rallo skated out to the opposing blue line and shot it into the vacated goal.

The Stars did what they needed to do tonight in the second game of a back-to-back. They did not allow the early goals that so often killed them this season. They scored on the power play, another key ingredient to Stars wins. And when a goal was scored, they responded quickly, in under three minutes in face.

I think it's possible that the Stars have found something of a gem in Richard Bachman. It is entirely possible that we will be seeing more of him as things move forward. How this works with Todd Ford's PTO and eventually Krahn's return is still a matter to be decided, but it is clear Bachman is ready for the AHL game as he is now the owner of a 3-1 record with a 1.25 GAA and a 0.948 save percentage. Can you say goalie controversy?

Stars are back in action on Friday against the Marlies in Toronto.

Tonight's lines:
McCulloch-Gagnon-Rallo
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Lindgren-Morin-Beaudoin
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sceviour

Fortunus-Hutchinson
Stafford-Ludwig
Jancevski-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Climie (day-to-day "strep-type" infection)
Korostin and Shelast (scratched)

For those who were wondering during our live Tweeting of the game, the Syracuse Crunch logo portrays an ice gorilla. Seriously.

Tonight's attendance was 4,387.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Syracuse - February 17 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Syracuse Crunch

Texas Stars
30-18-3-4, 67 pts
#3 West Division
atSyracuse Crunch
23-25-3-3, 52 pts
#6 East Division
February 17th at 6:00 PM
War Memorial at Oncenter, Syracuse, NY

The Stars play the second game of a mid-week back-to-back in Syracuse tonight. Texas is coming off a strong performance in Hamilton against the best team in the West Conference. The Syracuse Crunch's record does not imply they are so menacing, but still Texas lost the one game they played against them already in the shootout at home.

Syracuse has been good in their past ten games, going 7-3-0-0 with losses coming against Portland, Manchester, and Worcester, all teams Texas does not play this year. They most recently played on Valentine's Day, beating the Providence Bruins 7-4. The Texas game tonight opens a three game home swing that will conclude on Saturday for a 1 PM ET game on an outdoor rink against Binghamton. The game, dubbed the Mirabito Outdoor Classic, is the first outdoor game for the AHL, and organizers hope it will break the single game attendance record for an AHL game. Perhaps the Stars can catch the Crunch looking past tonight's game to Saturday's spectacle.

The last time these teams played, the Crunch took the shootout victory due in part to their early jumpstart. Syracuse's Aulin scored his 7th and 8th goals of the year in the first five minutes of the game. If you don't remember, letting in early and easy goals was a problem the Stars had at that point in the season. If we can keep the puck out of the net in even just the first five minutes, it will serve to keep the Stars off their heels.

The Crunch rank 5th in the league in PIMs per game at 21.46. Syracuse bruiser, Jon Mirasty, who is top 5 in majors and PIMs in the league, has not played in a game since February 6th so I would not expect him in tonight's game.

Also of record is the fact that the game isn't necessarily over if the Crunch trail at the end of two, as we had seen with a few of the teams Texas faced in the past week. The Crunch have 3 third period come from behind victories in nine chances on home ice.

I would expect Ford in net, but again, who knows?

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Climie (day-to-day with viral infection)

Website: syracusecrunch.com
Twitter: @SyracuseCrunch

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stars potent offense, strong defense power 5-0 win in Hamilton

The Stars completed a number of firsts tonight: first win on Canadian soil, first AHL shutout for Richard Bachman and first win over the Hamilton Bulldogs. The game was a sparkling specimen of what the Texas Stars can be when they are firing on all cylinders. Let's get into the play-by-play.

With Krahn and Climie out and Todd Ford having a bad stretch, ECHL call up Richard Bachman got the start. Texas was given an early power play on a double-minor for high sticking. Mathieu Tousignant also took a minor for interference on the play. When the Tousignant minor expired, Texas had two minutes of man advantage but couldn't capitalize on it.

The Stars were afforded another opportunity on the power play at 14:24 of the period. On a scrum in front of the net just 18 seconds into the power play resulted in a goal given to Warren Peters in the building. Sceviour sent the puck in to the crease and Ray Sawada and Peters both whacked at it until it came out to the low slot where Peters put it home.

Perttu Lindgren took a penalty for cross-checking late in the first and Texas was strong on the penalty kill to keep the one goal differential. Matheiu Beaudoin had a good chance in the last minute of the period when he broke in alone and challenged Desjardins. Beaudoin came from right to left and, being right-handed, had to give it a shot on the backhand. Desjardins caught the puck glove side with facility. Texas closed the period with the shots advantage at 9 to 6.

Coming out of the break, Gazdic and Neilson tangled and each took five for fighting. Texas came out shooting, starting with a 5-0 shot advantage before Warren Peters took a penalty for interference. On the power play, PK Subban was a little bit too rough on Greg Rallo who had carried the puck into the offensive zone and drew a roughing call. The Bulldogs touched up on the puck and Ryan White shot the puck into the empty net after the play was over, which is really something that is not done. No penalties were doled out on the play. So we would skate 4-on-4.

Texas got revenge on the 4-on-4 when Beaudoin came down the left side 2-on-1 on Belle and passed to Hutchinson who came down the right side and scored. The power play came when the Peters minor expired and Texas would score again just 78 seconds later. A pass from Andrew Hutchinson was shot in by Francis Wathier from the left-wing circle. Desjardins stopped the initial shot but gave up a juicy rebound to Aaron Gagnon who drove the net and scored on the backhand. It would be the last shot Desjardins would face as Curtis Sanford came on in relief.

The Stars struck once more in the period when Trevor Ludwig came in with some fancy stick work and passed to Sawada coming down the right side. Sawada immediately sent it back to Ludwig who was then staring an empty net in the face. Texas was up 4-0.

With two minutes left in the period, after play had stopped on a save by Bachman, Ryan White plowed a defenseless Mathieu Tousignant into the boards. His face struck the middle of the board but he did not appear injured. Everyone on the ice at the time, save the goalies, got entangled with each other behind the net. Coming out of play, Ryan White received a five minute major for boarding and Gazdic and Henry received matching minors for roughing.

Mathieu Beaudoin only took 29 seconds to make it 5-0. Beaudoin and Lindgren attempted the same play as Ludwig and Sawada on the previous goal. However, Beaudoin's attempt to pass it back to Lindgren was redirected into the net by a Bulldogs defender.

Gagnon took a tripping minor just 30 seconds into the third period and took Texas off the man advantage. On an early power play in the third, Tousignant and Gazdic even saw some power play time. The third was a penalty-filled affair, including a rare diving call on PK Subban followed by an unsportsmanlike for arguing the call and punching the glass in the penalty box. These calls were evened out by Stars penalties.

Bachman was not challenged much until the third period when the Bulldogs put all of seven shots on goal. He stood strong though to preserve the shutout and earn his first of his AHL career. The shot differential in the game was a sure indicator of the finish. Texas outshot Hamilton 37-17 and absolutely dominated every aspect of play. There's not much to say about the game except, let's do this more often.

The Stars travel tonight immediately after the game to Syracuse for tomorrow's game against the Crunch, the second-to-last place team in the East Division. We will preview that game tomorrow, but hopefully it will end as successfully as tonight's did.

Tonight's lines:
McCulloch-Gagnon-Rallo
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Morin-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Gazdic-Tousignant-Sceviour

Fortunus-Hutchinson
Stafford-Ludwig
Jancevski-Stephenson

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Climie (day-to-day "strep-type" infection)
Korostin and Shelast (scratched)
  • Lines shuffled quite a bit after the homestand. The Sceviour-Morin-Rallo line was broken up completely. With Wathier back in the lineup from Dallas, the Wathier-Peters-Sawada line was reunited.

  • Garrett Stafford was on the ice for all five goals scored by the Stars tonight.

  • The 'fourth line' saw a lot of ice time in the third period tonight with the game well in hand.

  • The attendance for tonight's game was only 2,551, less than half of the Texas Stars' nightly average. Of course, Team Canada was also busy beating up on Norway in Vancouver at the same time, so I'm sure that had an effect on attendance. Imagine a Texas Longhorns game was on at the same time. Note that this happened twice this season at the Stars drew 4466 and 3858 those nights. So there, Canada.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Hamilton - February 16 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Hamilton Bulldogs

Texas Stars
29-18-3-4, 65 pts
#4 West Division
atHamilton Bulldogs
34-13-3-5, 76 pts
#1 North Division
February 16th at 6:30 PM
Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON

Texas moves from one challenge right into the next tonight. Coming off three straight losses, including two to the top ranked team in the West, Chicago, the Stars head up north to take on the top team in the North Division, the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Hamilton comes into tonight's match 7-2-0-1 in their last ten, but they have dropped their last two, a shootout loss to Lake Erie and a regulation loss to Abbotsford. Texas and Hamilton have met only once so far this season, a shootout loss in October at Cedar Park Center. Tonight's game in Hamilton will be the last game between the two in the regular season. It will also be Texas's first trip to Hamilton.

Hamilton is a bit of a scary team. They average 3.27 goals for per game (#4 in the league) but only allow 2.22 goals per game (#1 in the league). In their last ten, they are even better: allowing 1.9 goals per game and scoring 3.6 goals per game. Not helping matters is that fact that All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban and several others have been assigned from Montreal since the Olympic break is upon us.

Hamilton is midpack on the power play and the penalty kill at home. Texas's PK has dropped on the road to #8 at 84.5%. Power play for the Stars is also midpack. Neither team takes many penalties, so I expect a clean game. In fact, I think with the losses that Texas suffered at home and the knowledge that Hamilton is sure to be a playoff team, the Stars may approach this like a playoff game. At least, I would. You need to win it to snap out of things. Certainly with the way our record has gone recently, Texas could use this win especially against this team.

Matt Climie did not make the trip due to issues with a viral infection. He is day-to-day and expected to join later in the road stretch. We could see Bachman tonight as he just got called up from Idaho.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Climie (day-to-day with viral infection)

Website: hamiltonbulldogs.com
Twitter: @dogsplaybyplay

Monday, February 15, 2010

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Tough Week Drops Stars Out of Top Spot

The newest Texas Stars report is up on Defending Big D, summarizing the week's event in Austin for those in Dallas. Major points this week include the current losing streak and the recent trade of Ivan Vishnevskiy.

Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D: Tough Week Drops Stars Out of Top Spot

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wathier back to Texas, Bachman called up, Neal sent down

Flurry of roster moves today for the Stars. As was expected, since the Dallas Stars are now on the two-week Olympic break, Francis Wathier has been assigned back to Texas. Additionally, the Texas Stars have released Chris Whitley from his professional try-out backing up Todd Ford. They have recalled Richard Bachman from the ECHL, who has appeared in 2 games for Texas this season. Bachman is an All-Star in Idaho with a 14-5-0-3 record and a 2.31 GAA and .909 SV%. Michael Neal was also assigned to Idaho today. Here's the release for the Wathier move:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the NHL club has assigned left wing Francis Wathier to the Texas Stars - Dallas’ primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Wathier, 25, was recalled on Monday and appeared in all three games for Dallas on the week, going scoreless. He made his NHL debut earlier this season with Dallas and has dressed in five total games for the club in 2009-10, accruing five penalty minutes and four shots. He has spent the majority of this season with the Texas Stars, where he has played in 50 games, recording 23 points (11g, 12a) and 76 PIM. The 6-4, 208-pound left wing was Dallas’ sixth round selection (185th overall) at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stars fall to 4th place with tough 5-2 loss to Wolves

The Stars finished out their five game home stand in most disappointing fashion tonight against the West division leading Chicago Wolves. The Stars collected 2 of a possible 10 points on this home stand, only winning against Peoria last Saturday and losing all four of the other games in regulation.

Tonight's game was hard to watch. Todd Ford got the start in net with Matt Climie still feeling a bit less than 100%. In fact, the Stars signed goalie Chris Whitley of the Allen Americans to a PTO and had him ride the pine for the game just in case. Its pretty clear that the shine is off the apple on Todd Ford. After going 4-0-0-1 in January, Ford is 0-4-0-0 in February. Is it time to give Richard Bachman a cup of coffee?

The Stars came out a lot better than they did last night (minus the goal at 19 seconds last night). There was a lot of energy on the ice, especially by the Sawada-Gagnon-Peters line about halfway through the period. Peter Mannino, the Wolves netminder, would have none of it. Chicago notched the only goal of the first when Stars defenseman Hutchinson flatout passed it to Brett Sterling for his 28th of the season and first of the night.

Texas would strike next at 6:56 of the second when Scott McCulloch potted his 4th of the season on garbage duty. Andrew Hutchinson skated the puck down the left wing side into the goal area and took a shot. All three Stars forwards touched the puck in the melee that ensued before Smooch snapped it home from the slot.

From there out it was mostly Chicago's game. The Wolves put two more behind Ford in the period from Stewart and Sterling, his second of the night. Both goals were a bit of freak plays. The first was a puck that rainbowed up over Ford, who didn't see it and went in. Think this, but ten feet in the air and with about 5 people in front of the net. The 3rd goal was not technically a power play goal, but was scored before Beaudoin could jump in the play. A hard kick off the end boards rebounded out past the goal line where Sterling put it in over Ford.

Maxime Fortunus wired one to the top right corner of the net from the left wing circle with 4 minutes left in the period. At that point, the comeback seemed possible at 3-2. But remember that stat? Texas has never won when trailing after two, and Chicago has never lost when leading after two. Sadly, no change to that trend tonight.

Spencer Machacek scored the 4th of the night for the Wolves on a puck Matt Stephenson had tried to clear unsuccesfully. Krog netted the last goal of the night on garbage collection himself when Brent Sterling's drive-by attempt at the hat trick was mishandled by Ford and dropped.

Now the not so fun part. This time last week, I mentioned that the Wolves needed to watch their heels because the Aeros might be nipping at their fourth place spot. Now, it is the Stars that need to watch their heels. In one week, the standings in the West's top 4 slots have completely inverted themselves. Chicago now leads at 68, Rockford, 67; Milwaukee, 66; and Texas, 65. The Aeros won tonight in OT against the Griffins and now have 61 points. They play tomorrow at home against the same Wolves who just annihilated your Stars. I don't think they'll be winning that game, but they are a little too close for comfort. Chicago has now won 18 of 24, and Mannino is 9-0-0-0 in his last nine starts.

Now Texas heads to the Great White North for a game against North Division leader Hamilton.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour-Morin-Rallo
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Sawada-Gagnon-Peters
Gazdic-Tousignant-Shelast

Fortunus-Hutchinson
Stafford-Ludwig
Jancevski-Stephenson

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Climie, Korostin and Neal (scratched)
Wathier (call up)

Emergency back-up, Chris Whitley, looked like he might be needed on the ice approximately two minutes into the second when Ford made an awkward save. Ford thought the puck was going to his right, but it came five hole and Ford closed the knees to save it. He stayed down for a bit and grasped the back of his right leg. Ford toughed it out and finished the game.

Despite the above lineup, Stafford and Jancevski started on defense for all three periods then switched to the above lineup after their first shift.

Game highlights from Wolves TV:



AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - February 13 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
29-17-3-4, 65 pts
#3 West Division
v.Chicago Wolves
31-17-0-4, 66 pts
#1 West Division
February 13th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

As usual, a shortened gameday preview for the back-to-back. I don't think we need to say anything about how dangerous of a team Chicago is. They have now won 17 of their last 23 games and goalie Peter Mannino has won his past eight straight starts. The pairings of Vishnevskiy and Chelios was deadly last night as well. Both came out with an assist and a plus-3 rating. I think that combination is probably the largest difference in ages I've ever seen or possible there has ever been on a defensive pair at 26 years and 24 days. Let's just put it this way: Chris Chelios had already won a Stanley Cup (1986) before Vishnevskiy was even born (1988).

Matt Climie was not on the bench last night for the Stars but will probably see the start if he is feeling better. Climie was feeling a bit under the weather and was taking it easy in the locker room for last night's game. Being sick on your birthday is really crappy. Best of luck to him on feeling better. Wolves backup Drew MacIntyre was also not on the bench last night, but there's no word on why that was.

The Stars have to have some fight in them tonight. Last night it didn't seem likely that Houston could jump into the playoff conversation but I would not count them out. They are only 5 points out with a lot more games to play. If any one of the top 4 teams in the West goes on a prolonged slide, the Aeros could be right back in it. Let's hope Texas can win one tonight to send them off on their 5 game roadtrip on a positive note.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Wathier (call up)

Website: chicagowolves.com
Blog (official): UnMic'd with Jason Shaver
Message Board: Wolves Forum
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves

Friday, February 12, 2010

Texas falls flat against Wolves 4-1

Alright then, I'm done feeling sorry for Ivan Vishnevskiy for being traded to Atlanta. In his first game at the Cedar Park Center not in a Stars' uniform, Vishnevskiy tallied an assist as the Chicago Wolves steam-rolled the Texas Stars 4-1 tonight. Vish ended the night at plus-3.

Todd Ford got the start in net tonight. Before many of the 5,279 at tonight's game had found their seats, Texas had put themselves on the scoreboard. Peter Mannino's failed attempt to play the puck behind his net left it on the stick of Greg Rallo who passed to Travis Morin for his team leading 14th of the season at 19 seconds.

From there on out, it was all Chicago. Stewart lit it up first on the power play at 10:31 of the first on a goal line pass for Crabb that was redirected in the crease. Chicago had tied it 1-1.

Texas had a lot of good chances in the 2nd period but the power play was mostly anemic and even strength attacking was hard to come by. A few great plays come to mind, like Andrew Hutchinson's miss on the practically empty net and Lindgren's breakaway near the end of the 2nd.

Jason Krog potted his 10th of the year and 52nd point at 16:56 on a deft backdoor pass by Anthony Stewart. The goal marked Krog's 500th point in the AHL. The Stars went to the 2nd intermission down 2-1. Coming into this game, the Stars were 0-12-1-1 when trailing after two periods. Chicago meanwhile was 18-0-0-0 when leading after two. Might as well have gone home after 40 minutes tonight.

Just 39 seconds into the third, Matt Anderson scored from the high slot. Assists on the goal were initially awarded to Chelios and Vishnevskiy but were later corrected to Crabb and Chelios.

Crabb collected his third point of the night 3 minutes later when he hounded puck carrier Matt Stephenson into a giveaway right in front of the Stars net and roofed it on Ford for a 4-1 score.

The Stars were outshot tonight by a whopping 35-16 margin. They managed 3 shots in the entirety of the third period. They were also silent on the PP and allowed 1 out of 4 opportunities on the PK. Passing was sloppy at best and 'interception' prone. I certainly don't think you can pin this loss on Todd Ford. It was a team loss because it was a lack of effort as a team. Come out angry and get results.

These head-to-head divisional matchups are going to wreak a bit of havoc on the standings. Texas came into the night at 65 points, tied with Rockford also at 65 but ahead by virtue of games played. The Chicago Wolves and Admirals were also tied at 64 points and the Wolves were ahead by games played as well. After tonight, the Wolves and the IceHogs both earned a full two points in regulation. That means we now have Rockford at 67; Chicago, 66; Texas, 65; and Milwaukee, 64.

With all four teams again playing each other tomorrow night, we could see another shuffle before the weekend's out. We do know the Aeros won't be jumping up into the mix this weekend though, dropping a 7-2 match to Grand Rapids at home tonight. The best they can do this weekend is 63 points now. The Wolves and Admirals both play on Sunday though giving them an opportunity for an extra two points on the weekend.

Tonight's lines:
Sceviour-Morin-Rallo
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Sawada-Gagnon-Peters
Gazdic-Tousignant-Shelast

Fortunus-Hutchinson
Stafford-Ludwig
Jancevski-Stephenson

Ford

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Korostin and Neal (scratched)
Wathier (call up)

Stars goaltender Matt Climie and Wolves goaltender Drew MacIntyre did not sit on their teams' benches during the game tonight. More information on what happened there when I get it.

The Cedar Park Center ice maintenance crew cleaned up the snow on the ice around the benches and the goals every five minutes tonight, as is usually done in the NHL. It is likely they are preparing for the television broadcast games, which will begin at the end of the month. Great catch by commenter kennedy who noted that Chicago broadcasts all games home and away for the Wolves. This is true thanks to Comcast. In fact, here are the game highlights they've already put up on YouTube.



AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Chicago - February 12 2010

Cedar Park Center story on KUT Radio

KUT's Julie Moody reports on growth in Cedar Park and the Cedar Park Center. Information about Texas Stars attendance and a brief interview of Rick McLaughlin, Texas Stars President and Cedar Park Center GM.

KUT.org: Cedar Park a Destination Spot?

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
29-16-3-4, 65 pts
#1 West Division
v.Chicago Wolves
30-17-0-4, 64 pts
#3 West Division
February 12th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars look to close out their home stand this weekend with two games against a fellow playoff hopeful in the Chicago Wolves. After having a rough start to the season, the Wolves sought a coaching change and flipped the 'on' switch on their season. In their last ten games, they are 7-1-0-2. The Stars are a not-too-shabby 6-3-1-0 but are coming off a loss to Grand Rapids on Tuesday. The Wolves last played on Tuesday as well, defeating Peoria in Chicago. Texas has a 2-1-1-0 record against Chicago.

Of course the biggest news for Stars fans about the Chicago Wolves is their new top-scoring defenseman by the name of Ivan Vishnevskiy. You may recognize him. He won't wear 29 in Chicago, a number that is already owned by Brett Sterling. Keep a keen eye on Vish if he dresses tonight. I'm going to be interested to see how he does coming back to the CPC as a visitor. Also watch out for Jason Krog, who is #7 in scoring for all players in the AHL.

Wolves goalie, Peter Mannino, is definitely another player to watch, if he starts, and why wouldn't he? He's on fire. Mannino was the goaltender of the month for January and sports a spiffy 1.79 GAA with a .941 SV%. He's 15-3-0-1 on the season. For comparison, Climie has a 2.44 GAA with .921 SV% and a 14-14-3-3 record.

The Stars and Wolves are both disciplined teams at third and fifth fewest minutes per game in the league. Chicago is #9 on both the road power play and penalty kill. Texas is still stout on the home penalty kill but lacks gusto on the home power play. Texas needs to come out energized, unlike Tuesday when they lacked jump and energy. I think the biggest thing, which one of you mentioned in the comments and I agree with, is the lack of good breakout passing. The Stars seem to have so much difficulty moving the puck out of their own zone effectively. More accurately, I suppose, they have trouble in the neutral zone.

This two game set is huge for the standings. If Texas drops both games, the Wolves will be three points ahead of the Stars in the standings. For the time being, the Stars can't drop below 4th place with the Houston Aeros still at 59 points. In the rest of the division race, the other two teams, Rockford and Milwaukee, also face off tonight and tomorrow night. The standings could look drastically different when the dust settles on Saturday night.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (sports hernia)
Wathier (call up)

Website: chicagowolves.com
Blog (official): UnMic'd with Jason Shaver
Message Board: Wolves Forum
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ray Sawada assigned to Texas Stars

Ray Sawada will be back with the Texas Stars tomorrow night. Francis Wathier is still in Dallas. Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has assigned right wing Ray Sawada to the Texas Stars – Dallas’ primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Sawada, 24, has played in five games for Dallas this season, going scoreless. Dallas’ second round pick (52nd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, he has appeared in 36 games with Texas this season, scoring three goals and six assists.

Michael Neal recalled from Idaho Steelheads

Texas Stars have recalled LW Michael Neal from the Idaho Steelheads. I'm beating the press release on this one, so here are the stats I can get. Neal has played in 42 games for the Steelheads with four goals, nine assists, a minus-2 rating and 31 PIMs. He has also been in Texas for four games, recording no points, a minus-2 rating, and 2 PIMs. Michael Neal is the younger brother of Dallas Stars winger James Neal. This is his third time in Austin. After starting the season with the Stars, he was sent down on October 13th and then recalled in January for a few games.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Texas Stars "On The Ice" report on ESPN Austin

Texas goaltender Matt Climie and play-by-play guy Josh Fisher dropped by the studio with Chip Brown and Sean Adams for the On The Ice Report today. They discussed playing hockey in Austin, the Hockey in Heels event, Matt's goaltending style, his relationship status (ladies?), where he heads out on a Saturday night, who's a joker in the room, and hockey movies.

Josh pumped up the games this weekend against the Wolves, which are going to be huge. But we'll talk about that on Friday here on Hundred Degree Hockey.

Analysis of the Vishnevskiy trade from the Texas Stars perspective

It's been 12 hours now since we first heard about the Vishnevskiy trade, so I've had a chance to think about what transpired. We all knew something was up when Matt Stephenson and Trevor Ludwig dressed for last night's game against Grand Rapids. I think most of us assumed Vish was getting the call up to Dallas to replace Mark Fistric until the Olympic break. Not the case.

During the Stars games (Dallas was in Chicago), there were rumblings first reported on TSN that Kari Lehtonen would be moving to Dallas for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a draft pick. Once both games were completed, it became official.

Most of the coverage that you will see about the trade will talk about Vishnevskiy's potential as a "Sergei Zubov" type of defenseman, someone who is solid in his own zone but can also score with facility and quarterback a power play. The key word is potential for most coverage you will read.

The Texas Stars were already seeing the benefit of having someone like Vish in their lineup nightly. He was the team's leading defenseman scorer and something like #7 overall. On a team where goals are a rare commodity many nights, losing a major scoring threat is a huge detriment. Much of the coverage you will read will also talk about his defensive game not being up to snuff. Perhaps this is true. He was paired with Maxime Fortunus most nights, which certainly helps to cover up a lot of defensive blunders.

But the thing that Texas Stars fans have to remember is the role of the AHL. The AHL is a development league. Games are fun to watch and we can talk about strategies and such until the cows come home. However, each team exists to develop the prospects in their system and serve the needs of the parent club. If the parent club needs to use a prospect to acquire a player for their own needs, then that is what will happen. Compared to the goals of the Dallas Stars, the management of the Dallas Stars cares very little about whether the Texas Stars make the playoffs or win the Calder Cup this year. It's not on their radar.

I think the worst part of the trade for Texas is the one-two punch of (1) not getting anything in return and (2) having to see Vishnevskiy in Cedar Park this weekend against the Wolves. That's right: Vishnevskiy was simply assigned to the Thrashers' farm team, which will be playing in Cedar Park this weekend. That's going to be rough on the kid. Also, the Wolves are one of the teams battling for the division crown with the Stars. We get nothing; they get a top pair defenseman.

Do the Texas Stars have the blue line fortitude to still compete at a high level? Maybe. Last night's pairings looked like this:

Fortunus-Stephenson
Stafford-Jancevski
Hutchinson-Ludwig

Ludwig and Stephenson had been trading scratches back and forth for the past few weeks. Do the Stars need another defenseman now? Where does he come from? The ECHL, the CHL? I don't really know.

In summary, this stinks for the Texas Stars, but I understand why it happened. It makes sense for Dallas to have a guaranteed goaltender, Lehtonen, under contract when the summer comes. Turco is likely on his way out before March 3, and everyone else you can name seems to be an unrestricted free agent this summer (Auld, Krahn, Climie). Bachman and Beskorowany are the only goalies in the system not to be a UFAs this summer, and we know they aren't even ready for the AHL, let alone the NHL. Luckily if Vish does turn out to be the best thing since sliced bread, we don't play Atlanta more than once most years...

And so I leave you with the only goal that Ivan Vishnevskiy scored for the Dallas Stars in the NHL.



Just kidding, Vish. We'll miss you.

You may have heard something about D Philip Larsen in all of this. He is a Stars prospect currently in Europe, said to be an 'offensive minded defenseman' like Vish. His stats don't seem to indicate that though. Through 35 games with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League, he has just one goal and eight assists. We can expect him in North America next year.

Note: Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was in the building for last night's game against the Griffins. Too bad we got outplayed in every possible way in the game. Maybe that only added to the issues. Trade rumors and then GM Joe is at the game.

How does Dallas Stars sale affect the Texas Stars?

In case you haven't heard, the Dallas Stars are up for sale. Since the Dallas Stars owner, Hicks Sports Group, is a subsidiary of the Texas Stars ownership organization, the umbrella Hicks Holdings LLC, there has been some measure of concern involving the longevity of the Texas Stars' stay in Austin.

The good news is that I'm here to quell your collective fears. The Texas Stars signed a ten-year affiliation agreement with the Dallas Stars last year and Hicks Cedar Park LLC has a 25-year operating lease agreement with the city for Cedar park Center.

Here's the quote from Texas Stars president, Rick McLaughlin, regarding the sale of the Dallas Stars:
"The Texas Stars have lengthy agreements in place with both the Dallas Stars and the City of Cedar Park. We have a great fan base here in Central Texas and we are committed to this community."
So rejoice, Stars fans! Even if the Dallas Stars are sold this summer, the contract for the affiliation and the arena will stay with the organization.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stars All-Star D Ivan Vishnevskiy traded to Atlanta

The Dallas Stars announced tonight that they have traded Texas Stars defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy to the Atlanta Thrashers with a 4th round pick for goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Vish was a scratch for tonight's game. I figured he was getting the callup to Dallas with Fistric injured, but it was not so. Vishnevskiy was the top scoring defenseman on the Texas Stars. I had looked forward to watching his game develop in the NHL, but not with Atlanta. This trade helps the Texas Stars not at all, as we lose Vish and get no AHL players in return. With a heavy heart, here's the press release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk announced this evening that the hockey club has acquired goaltender Kari Lehtonen from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and Dallas’ fourth round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Vishnevskiy, 21, has spent most of this season with the Texas Stars (AHL), playing in 51 games (8 goals, 16 assists) with 18 penalty minutes. He also appeared in two NHL games with Dallas, and was chosen as a 2010 All-Star for the PlanetUSA All-Stars. Vishnevskiy was Dallas’ first round selection (27th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in five career NHL games, earning two assists.

Lehtonen, 26, is an NHL veteran goaltender who has played his entire career with Atlanta. He was the second overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Thrashers. Lehtonen has appeared in 204 career NHL games, earning a 94-83-17 record with a 2.87 goals-against-average (GAA) and 14 shutouts. His career save percentage of 91.2 percent ranks 16th among the 44 active goalies with 100-or-more games played.

Stars stomped by Grand Rapids 2-1

Sorry this postgame report is later than usual. I was quite upset by this game and some of the news that came afterwards (more coming in next post). I'll keep this short.

The Stars got outplayed good tonight on all fronts. The Grand Rapids Griffins made it 1-0 early on a Patrick Rissmiller shot off Climie's back that went in on the power play. It was 2-0 before the period was out when Pare shot one into the empty net from the slot while Climie had overcommitted to an attempt at the side.

The Stars couldn't make a pass to save their lives and came out without a goal on the powerplay against the WORST road PK in the league. The Stars made it a bit interesting in the last 5 minutes of the game when Trevor Ludwig's slapper from the point dribbling in over the goal line after squeaking under Larsson's pads.

The Stars weren't completing checks and just lacked energy all over the ice. They had some good chances but not enough. Perhaps the trade affected their mood (more coming).

Tonight's lines:
Korostin-Morin-Rallo
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin
Sceviour-Gagnon-Peters
Gazdic-Tousignant-Shelast

Fortunus-Stephenson
Stafford-Jancevski
Hutchinson-Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and Krahn (injured)
Vishnevskiy (scratched)
Sawada and Wathier (call up)

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Grand Rapids - February 9 2010