Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
3-5-0-0, 6 pts
#15 Western Conference
atMilwaukee Admirals
5-1-0-1, 11 pts
#4 Western Conference
October 30th at 3:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

The last time the Texas Stars faced the Milwaukee Admirals, the game ended with a handshake line as the Ads advance to play the Houston Aeros in the West Division final in last year's playoffs. Texas, on the other hand, took a longer than desired summer break.

The Ads are flying high once again in the early going this season. They may not have the most points, but they possess the best points percentage in the entire league. They've reloaded the gun with the always stout Predators prospect system continuing to produce. Additionally, Milwaukee picked up former Dallas Star Kirk Muller from the Canadiens organization to coach the club.

Texas Stars faithful will surely remember Chris Mueller and Gabriel Bourque for their awesome efforts in last year's playoffs; both are back for another season. Mark Dekanich departed for a one-way deal with Columbus but Jeremy Smith is still the goalie in residence for the Ads. He is 4-0-1 with a 1.36 GAA and .947SV%. Atte Engren, who was a late season callup for the Ads last year, is 1-1 with a 3.05 GAA and .889 SV%. Engren started last night's loss to the Griffins, so I would expect Smith.

The elephant in the room for the Texas Stars is their prolonged stint of below .500 hockey. After clawing back to even with back-to-back wins in last week, Texas is now two below .500 and in 30th place in the league. As I've pointed out before, the goalie stats are incredibly uncharacteristic for both of these goaltenders (or any professional goalie for that matter). Both are at greater than 3.3 GAA and less than .890 SV%. I've said it's not sustainable, but how does it get fixed?

Texas seems to be giving up better chances to their opposition and giving less help to their goaltenders down low. It has to change for Texas. Unlike in the NHL, there's no draft pick "reward" for finishing last in the league. You just get a sour taste in your mouth and long frustrating summer. It's early, but the final goal has to be in mind, even in October.

Stars injury/call up report:
Fortunus (day-to-day injury)

Admirals Web Resources:
Website: milwaukeeadmirals.com
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals

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