Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stars Earn Point But Fall To OKC In SO 3-2

The Stars closed their second three-in-three in as many weekends with the fourth straight loss for the team. However, tonight's game was also the 3rd straight game in which they have earned a point. Texas again needed extra time to decide the victor in tonight's match and fell in the shootout to the Oklahoma City Barons, losing for only the second time to the Oilers farm club.

The Barons got on the board early with Cornet scoring practically from his knees in the high slot to make it 1-0. The second period opened with the Barons' second goal, from Teemu Hartikainen, at the 2:07 mark. At that point, it looked like Texas did not deserve to win the game, coming out sluggish and unmotivated. Fights from Ray Sawada and Luke Gazdic in the middle of the period livened up the crowd and the team.

The Stars struck next with Trevor Ludwig sneaking down from the point to fire a shot past Bryan Pitton on a nice pass from Aaron Gagnon. Greg Rallo got the game tying goal for Texas on a bang-bang play from Jordie Benn behind the net. In the third, it had appeared that Texas scored the go-ahead goal on the power play, but the referee, Ryan Hersey, waived it off. The goal light went on, but there is no replay in the AHL. The game would go to overtime and then a shootout for the second night in a row.

Texas only managed one goal from its crop of shooters, Aaron Gagnon. OKC got two, one from Mark Arcobello and another from Colin McDonald. While Texas earned a point, they also gave up two to a close rival in the playoff battle. These three games, in which Texas had a chance to take the extra point and did not, may come back to haunt them in a month when playoff seeding is decided.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Sceviour-Sawada
McCulloch-Gagnon-Rallo
Segal-Roman-Tousignant
Gazdic-Bonk-Chupp

Benn-Fortunus
Lukowich-Monast
Ludwig-Spang

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Backman, Neal, Stephenson (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, Krahn (lower body)
Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 5,545.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - February 27 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
32-20-4-4, 72 pts
#3 West Division
v.Oklahoma City Barons
31-21-2-5, 61 pts
#7 West Division
February 27th at 5:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Stars finally return home after their season long 8 game road trip. While today's game says it is at home on the schedule, it will certainly feel like a road game, with Texas only getting a few hours to stop in and sleep in their own beds before heading back out for more hockey. It will come in handy for them that Oklahoma City is a team that they have been dominant over in the season series, winning six of seven.

The Barons have had a precipitous fall from the top of the division. While still in playoff contention, as is most of the West, the Barons are at the bottom of the pack as opposed to the top. With their 5-0 loss to Houston last night and Chicago's win over Peoria, the Barons are now slotted into 7th place in the Division, but just three back of the Stars, who are in third.

Ace goaltender Marin Gerber has been recalled to Edmonton, leaving Jeff Deslaurier and Bryan Pitton to backstop the Barons. In the season series, both have played but neither has won. Each has a GAA of approximately 3 in the series. Meanwhile for Texas, Richard Bachman has yet to accrue a loss against OKC, going 6-0 with a 1.69 GAA and .943 SV%. I would expect him in net this afternoon.

In terms of standings, this is an important game for both teams. While OKC's standing may say seven, they are 4th by points percentage and into the playoffs. Still perception is worth something both in the league and in the locker room, so the Barons will be searching to erase that 7 and move up the board. The Stars have, meanwhile, have now lost three straight games. Earning points in the last two helps to keep them afloat in the standings. If Texas had not taken the "loser point" in the last two games, they would have dropped out of the top four in the West in terms of points percentage.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Morin, Krahn (lower body)
Vincour (callup)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

Stars Can't Contain Rampage Rally, Lose 3-2 in SO

Texas went into San Antonio this evening looking to close out their road trip strong with a W. In the tight West Division, a three point game was, especially a shootout loss, was far from an ideal situation. The Stars gave up three separate leads in the game, including a 2 goal lead in the shootout, to give San Antonio its 6th SOW of the year.

Texas started Tyler Beskorowany opposite San Antonio's Matt Climie. The first goal was on Climie by Luke Gazdic just past the halfway point of the first. Maxime Goncharov tried to clear a puck out of the zone that ended up in Luke's chest, which he batted down and swooped in on to score. Gazdic's finish at the net has really improved, which is evidenced by his career high 9 goals this year.

San Antonio got it back on a nice passing play from Alexandre Picard to former Star Garrett Stafford. Picard passed from behind the goal line to the right wing side of the net, where a streaking Stafford buried a shot on the back door. The goal, less than 2 minutes into the 2nd, was Stafford's 12th of the year.

Texas completed a similar play for their second goal with Brandon Segal getting a pass over to Dan Spang, who also crept down off the point, to beat Matt Climie for his 9th of the year. Texas continued to hold down the fort until the end of the 3rd period.

With just under 5 minutes left in the game, it was another former Star, Ned Lukacevic, scoring to even things up at two. Lukacevic spent a few games with Texas in the late season last year as a PTO, but has stayed on with the Rampage consistently since mid=January.

Texas would play through overtime scoreless and take it to the shootout. San Antonio was previously flawless in the skills competition and would not change their streak this evening. Colton Sceviour and Francis Wathier scored for the Stars to take an early 2-0 lead, but Viktor Tikhonov and Brett MacLean scored in the back half to even it up and take the SO to extra rounds. In the 7th, Randy Robataille scored while Gagnon failed to do the same, and San Antonio earned the extra standings point.

Tonight's lines:
Neal-Gagnon-Rallo
Wathier-Sceviour-Sawada
Segal-Roman-Tousignant
Gazdic-Backman-Chupp

Lukowich-Monast
Benn-Fortunus
Stephenson-Spang

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Bonk, McCulloch (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, Krahn (lower body)
Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 10,447.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at San Antonio - February 26 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
32-20-4-3, 71 pts
#4 West Division
atSan Antonio Rampage
33-23-2-0, 68 pts
#6 West Division
February 26th at 7:00 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX

The final game of the road trip has come for the Texas Stars as they face off against their closest geographic rival before returning home to the Cedar Park Center tomorrow. San Antonio is playing its first home game in the month of February, a stretch of nine games in all, due to the annual rodeo road trip. The Rampage went 4-5 on the road trip and comes into tonight's game on a three game losing streak.

San Antonio's radio voice, Dan Weiss, expounded on the problem yesterday on Twitter before the Rampage's loss to Oklahoma City:
Beaudoin, 0 goals last 11 games; Stone 0 points last 10, Goncharov 0 points last 9.
Mathieu Beaudoin had an assist in last night's game, getting him off the list, but the others remain pointless for at least the past month.

Additionally, callups and trades have rocked the roster a bit. Last week, Al Montoya was traded to the New York Islanders and is now starting in the NHL after being stuck behind Matt Climie in the AHL for most of the season. Joe Fallon has been recalled from Las Vegas as a result and was pressed into service off the bench last nighta after Climie allowed three goals in 26 minutes.

Mikkel Boedker, Andrew Ebbett, Brett MacLean and Nolan Yonkman are allh gone to Phoenix and the players who remain, according to the San Antonio media, are having trouble consistently generating offense.

The Stars have indeed had luck against the Rampage this season, going 5-1-0-1 in the season series. Both Texas goaltenders who have played against the Rampage, Bachman and Krahn, have sub 2.00 GAA and better than .930 SV%. The combination of last road game for Texas and first home game for San Antonio may change up the complexion of the game.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn, Morin, Larsen (lower body)
Vincour (call up)

Website: sarampage.com
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Blog (unofficial): Runnin' With The Herd
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @SARampage_Voice (play-by-play for SA)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stars Fall To Houston In OT 4-3

Stars defenseman Maxime Fortunus and Aeros winger Brandon Buck chase down a puck in tonight's game. (Credit: Houston Aeros)

Texas travelled to Houston this evening, not stopping at home in between, to face off against the Aeros. Tonight's game was no exception to the season-long trend: tight games that Texas somehow ends up on the wrong side of. However, Texas managed to take a point out of tonight's game by taking it to overtime, leaving their record against Houston this year at 1-6-2-1.

The Texas Stars got things off to a quick start in this one. Just 45 seconds into the game, Francis Wathier scored on a wrap around to take the 1-0 lead. It was a good sign for Texas, as both teams are very good when scoring the first goal.

Unfortunately, the Stars would give it back twice over before the end of the period. Defenseman Nate Prosser scored his 7th of the year to tie it at 1 just past the halfway mark of the period. Less than two minutes later, Texas got in penalty trouble, and it was Jon DiSalvatore with his 14th of the year on the power play. Shots were in Houston's favor after one at 14-13.

Texas tied it up in the second period in the frame's only scoring. With six minutes left in the period, forward Luke Gazdic potted his 8th of the year, tapping it in from the back door after an initial shot by Dave Bonk. The Stars sent 17 shots at Khudobin in the middle frame and led 30-25 after two.

On the power play, Jordie Benn slammed one home from the point to go ahead 3-2 with 9 minutes left in the third period. DiSalvatore, who was in the box for Benn's goal, made up for his indiscretion by scoring on a nice tic-tac-toe play with Wellman and Patrick O'Sullivan. It was the captain's second of the night; seven of his 15 on the year have come against Texas.

While Texas battled hard all night long, the game would be Houston's. A late 3rd period power play bled over into overtime where Casey Wellman won it on a top shelf goal.

Tonight's lines:
McCulloch-Gagnon-Rallo
Wathier-Sceviour-Backman
Segal-Roman-Tousignant
Gazdic-Bonk-Chupp

Benn-Fortunus
Stephenson-Lukowich
Ludwig-Spang

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Neal, Sawada (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, Krahn (lower body)
Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 7,582.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Houston - February 25 2011

Sawada Returned to Texas Stars

Ray Sawada skates with the puck in a December 4th game against Houston (Credit: Byrd/Texas Stars)
Winger Ray Sawada has been reassigned to the Texas Stars after being taken off the injured reserve in Dallas, according to Mark Stepneski. Sawada suffered a shoulder injury in his lone NHL game this season. The hit by Dan Paille earned him a four game suspension.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
32-30-3-3, 70 pts
#4 West Division
atHouston Aeros
33-22-1-4, 71 pts
#3 West Division
February 25th at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Texas will take the surely dreaded trip to the Toyota Center to face Houston for the 10th time on the season. The Stars are 1-6-1-1 against Houston this year. The lone win came at the Cedar Park Center in the last game before Thanksgiving. The West Division's playoff race is certainly being affect by this one-sided rivalry.

For example, if Texas had taken just two of those lost games to overtime, they would vault past two teams to second place. If all teams continue accruing points at their current rate, there would still only be 3 points between 2nd and 6th place at the end of the season. It's cliche to say that two points are important every night, but it's very true in this year's race.

Despite their dominance over Texas, the Aeros have been flailing a bit recently. The fans in Houston are getting antsy after going 1-3-0-1 in the last 5 games. Two of those losses came against the division-leading Admirals. The Aeros are in a precarious spot. Despite their large number of points, every team in the division but Chicago has at least one game in hand over them. San Antonio should be especially scary for Houstonians, as the Rampage have 3 games in hand but are only 3 points behind the Aeros.

Jon DiSalvatore and Maxim Noreau are at a point a game or better for the Aeros in the season series. Colton Sceviour is at one point per game in the series as well for Texas. On average, Texas goaltenders are at 3 goals against per game against the Aeros, while Houston is at just over two per game.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn, Morin, Larsen (lower body)
Sawada, Vincour (call up)

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Re-Debuting the Playoff Projections Spreadsheet

Those of you who were around for the stretch run last year might remember my spreadsheet to track the playoff race during the last few months. I've brought it back for this season's stretch run as well. You can find it under the pages list on the right side, titled "Playoff Projections".

I've added a new category, R% diff, at the suggestion of frequent commenter @jpmtx75. It tells the story of whether a team is ahead or behind on their goal of getting to the playoffs by subtracting the team's current point percentage from their required point percentage to make 4th place. A positive number means you're ahead of where you need to be; negative means you're behind.

Remember that there are special rules around the 5th place team in the West. If the 5th place team in the West has more points than the 4th place team in the North, then they will cross over and replace them in the North Division playoffs. The crossover team can place no higher than 3rd, however, even if they have a better record, as this would eliminate home ice advantage for the 1st and 2nd place teams in the North.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brennan Evans, Rivermen Crush Stars 5-2

After scoring just 9 goals in his entire 8 season AHL career, Brennan Evans had a breakout night against the Texas Stars in Peoria tonight. Evans scored his first, second and third goals of the year for his first career hat trick. Really, a defenseman who was without a goal in 48 games scoring a hat trick told the story of the night.

Peoria started off the scoring in this one with Brennan Evans' first goal of the night, coming on a point shot with traffic in front. Texas answered back with five left in the first period on the power play. Roman's 7th goal of the year evened the score at one with Gagnon and Segal getting assists.

From there on out, it was all Peoria. Porter scored one on the Rivermen power play to make it 2-1 to end the first. Shots were 18-15 for Peoria after 20 minutes.

The second period broke the camel's back as Brennan Evans had two in the period. Evans second goal came as his penalty for interference expired and he went in alone on Bachman. Ian Cole scored as well in the period to set the score at 5-1 after 40 minutes.

Stars defenseman Maxime Fortunus would score the only goal of the 3rd period for either team, setting it at a 5-2 final. Texas will try to shake off this loss and play another 3-in-3 this weekend, ending in Cedar Park on Sunday.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Sceviour-Rallo
Segal-Roman-Tousignant
McCulloch-Gagnon-Chupp
Gazdic-Bonk-Backman

Stephenson-Lukowich
Benn-Fortunus
Ludwig-Spang

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Neal, Mouillierat (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, Krahn (lower body)
Sawada, Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 3,486.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Peoria - February 23 2011

Gagnon Assigned to Texas

Gagnon in last year's Western Conference Finals against Hamilton (Credit: Matt Kostek)
Aaron Gagnon has been returned to the Texas Stars today and could be available for tonight's game in Peoria. Gagnon was recalled due to all of the injuries in Dallas. Through some CBA wizardry, Dallas did not have to send Gagnon through waivers in order to assign him to the AHL. His callup occurred under what is called an "emergency callup", which happens due to injury. The Stars special teams units will definitely appreciate his return, as will the score sheet. Aaron has only played in 35 games for Texas this year but is just better than a half a point a game player.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Peoria Rivermen

Texas Stars
32-19-3-3, 70 pts
#3 West Division
atPeoria Rivermen
32-21-3-3, 69 pts
#4 West Division
Feburary 23rd at 7:05 PM
Carver Arena, Peoria, IL


Talk about an opportunity to gain ground. Tonight, Texas faces off against Peoria, which trails the Stars by just one point in the West Division. With the Aeros losing last night, a win tonight for the Stars would vault them into second place in the West. "These are important points," emphasized defenseman Maxime Fortunus.

When Peoria and Texas last faced off, the Rivermen were the toast of the division. Since the last game, Peoria is 7-9-1-2 and has fallen to 4th place in the West. By points percentage, the Rivermen are in 6th place and out of a playoff spot. They are going to be a hungry team tonight.

Texas is going to likely see rookie netminder Jake Allen in goal tonight for Peoria. Ben Bishop has been called up to St. Louis for ailing Jaroslav Halak. Allen's All-Star caliber stats (17-11-2, 2.29 GAA, .928 SV%)have dipped a bit since the early season but are still spectacular.

The Stars will likely play Richard Bachman, who is actually ahead of Allen on the goalie leaderboard. Bachman (21-12-3, 2.17, .927) will set a new franchise record for wins with his next, besting Matt Climie's record last year of 21. Thanks to Bachman, among other things, Texas is 10-7-1-1 since last playing Peoria and comes in on a three game win streak.

Leading the charge for Peoria are T.J. Hensick and Graham Mink. Hensick has tallied 3 assists against Texas while the leading goal scorer is Nicholas Drzenovic with 3 goals. Texas's leading scorers against Peoria, Travis Morin and Philip Larsen, are both expected to be out for tonight's game. With the release of Mark Derlago yesterday, Texas could see the return of Scott McCulloch. The young winger has played in only 12 games this year, one of the against Peoria in which he scored once.

With things starting to come down to the wire in the playoff race, each game is going to feel more and more like the playoffs have already started. "Every team is ready," added Fortunus. "We're ready to fight, too."

Stars injury/call up report:
McCulloch, Morin, Larsen, Krahn (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour (call up)

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mark Derlago Released; Is McCulloch Healthy?

Stars forward Mark Derlago was released from his professional tryout contract with Texas today. He will surely return to the Steelheads posthaste to help them in their efforts for a Kelly Cup.

Derlago's departure indicates that a body is coming back somewhere. While Jamie Benn is definitely getting back into the lineup tonight, it is unlikely that Gagnon or Vincour will be coming down to Texas. Gagnon has passed the waiver limit of 10 games and will incur the waiver wire when he is sent down. Dallas has really liked Vincour's play in the NHL, and I don't see him coming down either.

For me, this points to a returning player for Texas. Scott McCulloch, who has been out for the majority of the season, missing 45 games, did travel with Texas on the road trip. He was hoping for a February return, and we may just see it tomorrow night in Peoria.

Stars Ready for Tight Divisional Playoff Battle

Maxime Fortunus, pictured here in a game against the Rockford IceHogs on December 8th, says the team is ready for the home stretch. (Credit: Kris Gray)
The story of the year for the AHL playoff race is certainly the tightness in the Stars' West Division. For at least the past month, there has been a separation of at most 7 points between 7th and 1st place.

Texas has been on the short end of the stick for most of the season in the standings. Despite picking up points at a 60% pace, Texas was stuck for most of the time technically "out" of playoff contention thanks to a low number of games played and the general competitiveness in the West. "It seemed like everytime we won, so did everyone else," said Stars defenseman Maxime Fortunus.

This weekend's three game win streak changed that, at least for a little while. With two of the games coming against the division, including the important game against Milwaukee, Texas was finally able to gain some ground on the West. Sitting in sole possession of third place, the Stars feel much more in control of their playoff destiny now that they can see their effort being rewarded in the standings.

Tonight's divisional game between Milwaukee and Houston, both tied for first with 71 points, begins a rash of important divisional games. Texas plays Peoria tomorrow while Milwaukee visits Oklahoma City. "It's going to be like this until the end of the year," said Fortunus. "It might come down to the last game."

On the other side of the coin, if the Stars go on a losing streak, they could just as easily miss the playoffs as make them. "We have to be ready to fight until the end," added Fortunus.

"We take every game from here on out as a playoff game."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crunch Owners Fan Forum Showcases Honesty

The Syracuse Crunch are one of the few Eastern Conference teams that Texas plays this year. As part of keeping up with the AHL, I follow the Crunch Hockey blog at Syracuse.com. Beat reporter Lindsay Kramer and intern Kaitlin Santanna provide a lot of great information about the team and they do great work covering the Crunch.

One of this weekend's posts really struck me, however. It's title: Transcript of Syracuse Crunch owner Howard Dolgon's fan forum. Before last Friday's game against the San Antonio Rampage, the owner of the Crunch sat down with fans to take questions about the team. The Crunch have had a disappointing season and the owner could have just as easily cancelled the fan forum. But instead, he forged ahead.

Here's a good example:
Q: Anaheim doesn’t seem to be doing much for us down here. When we are thinking about renewing our season ticket for next year, why should we think anything is going to be different coming from them?
Ouch. That's real brutal honesty. But here's the thing: Dolgon answers in kind. Honest questions deserve honest answers, and I have to give the Crunch owner credit for giving the fans what they ask for. Check out the transcript to see how he answers that one.

As another example, here's his answer to a question of why fan favorite Jon Mirasty was sent down to Elmira of the ECHL:
"I’ll give you the honest answer. I still don’t have the answer. I have never been given an answer as to why and who decided. I was in Aruba for a holiday vacation with my family and I got an e-mail from our beat reporter asking what I thought about Jon being sent down to Elmira. I got on the phone and called Jim Sarosy and said, “What’s going on here?” So the answer to the question is that we never received the reason behind it."
What do you think about this kind of fan forum with owners and managers?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Texas Surges to 3rd Place with 2-1 Win Over Ads

The 3-in-3 weekend sweep is complete for the Texas Stars. After the games in Lake Erie, it was hard to believe that Texas would be in this place on Sunday night. However with tonight's win, the Stars are now in sole possession of 3rd place in the West Division with 70 points, placing them just one point behind Milwaukee and Houston, both tied at 71.

The Stars opened up the scoring in this one with a rebound goal in the first period. Brandon Segal, who spent four years in an Admirals uniform, put the original shot on net, where Mathieu Tousignant collected his 8th of the year on the rebound. Jonathan Blum answered back on the power play just six minutes later. Texas had been on the power play themselves but took themselves off with a poorly timed hooking call. Texas did this twice in the first period, but it only bit them once. Shots were in Milwaukee's favor 16-10 in the period.

Sean Backman made up for his hooking call in the first with a power play goal in the second. His one-timer from the right wing circle gave Texas the 2-1 lead seven minutes into the period. Brandon Segal collected his second point of the night with the primary assist. As is typical in Ads/Stars matchups, that would be all the scoring that was needed.

Texas held on through a penalty kill at the end of the game and an extended 6-on-5 set for the Ads. Beskorowany stopped 34 of 35 shots against for the Stars after being called up yesterday to secure the win.

This is Texas Stars hockey: solid goaltending, timely scoring, and stout special teams. The importance of the weekend sweep cannot be overstated. The Stars have moved from 6th place all the way to 3rd. With Houston's 59 games played, technically, the Stars are in second by points percentage. Up next is Peoria, a team on a three game losing skid, on Wednesday.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Sceviour-Rallo
Segal-Roman-Tousignant
Chupp-Mouillierat-Derlago
Gazdic-Bonk-Backman

Monast-Lukowich
Benn-Fortunus
Stephenson-Spang

Beskorowany

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Neal, Ludwig (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, McCulloch, Krahn (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 4,822.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Milwaukee - February 20 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
31-19-3-3, 68 pts
#4 West Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
31-14-2-7, 71 pts
#1 West Division
February 20th at 5:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

If the playoffs started today, this would be the first round matchup for the Stars. And what a matchup it would be! Texas is 3-1 in the season series, but only by the slimmest of margins. In the four combined games between the two, the total goal differential is five.

These two teams play a very similar type of game: crash and bang, hard on the forecheck, stout defensive hockey. Every game in this series has felt like a playoff game already, and with Milwaukee in first and Texas rapidly climbing into the top half of the division, this game will be no exception.

The Admirals had a strong game last night against Peoria, winning 3-0 at Carver Arena. Jeremy Smith backstopped the Ads in the game with Chet Pickard riding the pine. Ace starter, Mark Dekanich, has been called up to the Predators as of Friday. Jeremy Smith has a 10-4-1 record this year while backup Pickard is at 1-4-1. After playing 36 games last year, Pickard has fallen out of favor and has spent most of the season in Cincinnati, where he is 8-11-3.

In net for Texas, it's a tough call with Richard Bachman starting all of the games already on the road trip, including the past two nights straight. Would Beskorowany come into this game and start right off? After seeing 44 shots last night, Bachman could deserve a rest. At the same time, I can see him saying that he's ready to go. He has worked to condition himself for the rigors of an 82 NHL schedule. If Coach needs him, he can go.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Larsen, McCulloch, Krahn (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (callup)

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

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beskorowany Recalled; Krahn Day-to-Day

Tyler Beskorowany squares to a shot in a December 11th game against Milwaukee (Credit: Chris Jerina/AHL In Photos)
Goalie Tyler Beskorowany has been recalled to the Texas Stars from his current assignment with the Idaho Steelheads. Beskorowany has been performed extremely well in the ECHL, being named the January goalie of the month and an ECHL All-Star.

Beskorowany's call up is needed as Brent Krahn is currently day-to-day with a lower body issue. He is likely to be in the lineup for the Milwaukee game. Beskorowany could possibly start Sunday, but I doubt it. You can see his stats in the release below.
Prior to the game, the Dallas Stars reassigned goalie Tyler Beskorowany to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ AHL affiliate. Beskorowany posted a 1.85 goals against average and stopped 202 of 213 shots (.948%) in his last six games (4-2-0) with Texas earlier in the year. Overall, Beskorowany is 4-4-0 with a 2.64 goals against average and a .925 save percentage with the Stars. In 20 games with Idaho this season, he posted a 10-8-1 mark with a 2.35 goals against average and a .928 save percentage.

The Dallas Stars drafted Beskorowany in the second round (#59 overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder spent the 2009-10 season with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. In 62 appearances, Beskorowany posted a 29-25-4 mark with a 3.52 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. For his OHL career, the Hammer, ONT native went 52-56-17 with a 3.69 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.

Stars Manhandle Chicago Again 3-2

Every year, there's a team that just dominates you. For Chicago, it's Texas. With tonight's win, the Stars are now 5-0 against the Wolves on the season. The win took Texas to .500 on the road trip and sets the on the right foot going into tomorrow's game against the high-flying Admirals, currently ranked #1 in the West.

Tonight's win also puts Texas in 4th place themselves. After the Lake Erie games, where Texas sat in 6th place, it is a nice reward for the team to see themselves actually moving up the standings board when they win.

The Stars also found their special teams play a little bit more tonight. They held Chicago to only one power play goal, scored one themselves and even put in a shorthanded goal in the 3rd to tie the game. The game featured 81 penalty minutes included a misconduct to the Chicago coach and a game misconduct to Andre Deveaux for butt-ending Mathieu Tousignant. It was Deveaux's second game misconduct at the end of the game in as many games.

In addition to all that, Richard Bachman stopped 42 of 44 shots against him on the night. Texas put far less rubber on Peter Mannino with 27 shots coming his way in the game. Bachman was named the second star of the game for the second straight night.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars (31-19-3-3, 68 points) defeated the Chicago Wolves (29-24-2-4, 64 points) 3-2 on Saturday night in front of 10,721 fans at Allstate Arena. Stars left wing Francis Wathier scored his second goal of the night, a power-play goal with 5:14 remaining in regulation to lift Texas over Chicago. Right wing Colton Sceviour tallied a short-handed goal to even it up 2-2 early in the third period. Texas goalie Richard Bachman (21-12-3) made 41 saves to help the Stars improve to 15-11-0-1 on the road this season. Wolves’ goalie Peter Mannino (14-14-3) stopped 23 shots for the loss. Texas will play in Milwaukee on Sunday, February 20th at 5:00 PM (CT).

Left wing Francis Wathier put Texas up 1-0 just 36 seconds into the first period. Stars defenseman Brad Lukowich set up Wathier’s 14th goal of the season. The Wolves responded at 4:24, as Captain Jason Krog tallied his 13th goal of the year to tie the game 1-1. Right wing Darren Haydar and center Jared Ross each supplied an assist on the goal.

Chicago defenseman Paul Postma notched a power-play goal with 1:06 remaining in the second period. Haydar and Ross each had an assist, giving the Wolves their first lead of the night at 2-1 through 40 minutes of play.

Stars right wing Colton Sceviour tallied a short-handed goal 1:32 into the final frame. The goal went unassisted as Sceviour scored off a rebound of his own shot, tying the game 2-2. Wathier scored his second goal on the night, supplying a power-play goal at 14:46. Defenseman Maxime Fortunus and forward Greg Rallo each assisted on the play to give the Stars a 3-2 win in Chicago.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Mouillierat, Beskorowany (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 10,721.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Chicago - February 19 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
30-19-3-3, 66 pts
#5 West Division
atChicago Wolves
28-23-2-4, 62 pts
#7 West Division
February 19th at 7:00 PM
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

The Stars jumped on the bus after last night's win and travel to play Chicago tonight. Texas and the Wolves last faced off on January 12th, a 4-2 day game win for Texas in Chicago. The Stars have a 4-0 record against the Wolves so far this season.

The Wolves played last night in Rockford, winning 4-3. Chicago surrendered all three goals on the power play. Overall, the Wolves have the worst PK record in the league. However, Texas isn't exactly hot stuff on the road power play, #28 of 30. The Wolves home is #2 in the league though, so Texas needs to watch out.

Last night's game for the Wolves was highlighted, or perhaps lowlighted, by game ending pugilism between Andre Deveaux and Kyle Hagel. Both earned misconducts with Hagel adding a game misconduct for spearing.

Overall, Texas is looking at the road trip as an opportunity. "Sometimes it's good to get out on the road," said forward Greg Rallo. "You have the opportunity to hang out with teammates and go out to dinners." Getting to know some of the new players will definitely be a big part of the trip.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Larsen, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (call up)

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Stars Get Weekend Off Right With 3-2 Win

I was unable to watch tonight's game so I've copied the press release for tonight's postgame. The win was a big one for Texas. After falling in two straight contests in Cleveland, the Stars needed a win to start the 3 game weekend. Texas gave up a point to the Griffins in the game, but they aren't in the North Division so it doesn't matter as much as it will for the rest of the road games.

As you can see from the game sheet, Mathieu Tousignant and Jamie Tardif had a dust up in the first period to settle the score from last game. Tousignant was suspended for two games following his hit on Tardif in the January contest.

Richard Bachman was stellar for Texas tonight, stopping 35 of 37 shots and all five in the shootout. I would have given him first star if I were in charge, but the Grand Rapids media chose Derek Meech, who had two assists and was plus-2.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars (30-19-3-3, 66 points) defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins (24-25-1-7, 56 points) 3-2 in a shootout on Friday night in front of 8,509 fans at Van Andel Arena. Texas goalie Richard Bachman (20-12-3) made 35 saves in regulation and stopped all five attempts in the shootout to lift the Stars over the Griffins. Forward Brandon Segal and defenseman Dan Spang each scored in regulation as the Stars improved to 14-11-0-1 on the road this season. Left wing Francis Wathier netted the decisive goal in the shootout. Grand Rapids forwards Tomas Tatar and Jamie Johnson both scored in the loss. Griffins’ goalie Jordan Pearce (8-5-4) stopped 29 in regulation and four of five in the shootout defeat. Texas will play in Chicago on Saturday, February 19th at 7:00 PM (CT).

The Griffins jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead starting at 8:40 of the first period. Grand Rapids defenseman Derek Meech found center Tomas Tatar in front of the Stars net for his 14th goal of the year and a 1-0 Griffins lead. Grand Rapids extended its lead to 2-0 at 13:37 of the opening frame when Jamie Johnson tallied his eighth goal of the season. The Stars answered back prior to the end of the period with a power-play goal at 16:04. Defenseman Dan Spang ripped a shot from the point that deflected off goalie Jordan Pearce and dribbled into the Griffins net. Defenseman Brad Lukowich and right wing Greg Rallo each had an assist on the play that cut the Grand Rapids lead to 2-1.

After a scoreless second period, the Stars quickly tied the game early in the third period. Ondrej Roman worked the puck to Brandon Segal in the Griffins’ left wing circle. Segal snapped in his fifth goal of the year at 1:41 to tie the game 2-2.

After a scoreless overtime, the teams went to a shootout. Texas goalie Richard Bachman stopped all five Griffins attempts, while Francis Wathier scored the only Stars shootout goal for the win.
Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Derlago (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 8,509.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Grand Rapids - February 18 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
29-19-3-3, 64 pts
#5 West Division
atGrand Rapids Griffins
24-24-1-6, 55 pts
#6 North Division
February 18th at 6:00 PM
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Texas continues its road trip tonight with the first game of a weekend 3-in-3 in Grand Rapids against the Griffins. Last time these two teams played, five points separated first from seventh in the West Division. You would think that a month would give the playoff picture some focus but going into today's game, now just six points separate 1 from 7.

Grand Rapids is facing their own nasty playoff race, six points back of three teams tied for 3rd place and only two ahead of last place Rochester. Everyone seems to still be in the hunt in the North just as much as the West. Two points are important tonight for both clubs.

The Griffins are coming off a hard fought win against Hamilton on Wednesday. The Bulldogs are one of those teams tied for 3rd. Jamie Tardif took a rough hit and left the ice, only to come back and score the game winning goal on the power play.

Special teams were not good for Texas in Cleveland. Combined with the Griffins, all special teams percentages but the Griffins PP rank in the bottom 4 of the league. "We're missing key guys [on special teams]," said forward Greg Rallo. "But we have ample guys who can step up and fill that role." There are definitely a lot of new players on the units, including recent callups like Mark Derlago and energy liners Chupp and Gazdic. "It's not for lack of chances," Rallo added. "Sometimes things just don't go in."

"We can't use [injuries and callups] as an excuse though."

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Larsen, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (call up)

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey
Blog: Griffins Hockey on MLive.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cleveland Not Kind As Stars Fall 4-2

Julian Talbot skates in on net as Brent Krahn cuts off his angle. (Credit: Ben Hall/Lake Erie Monsters)

Cleveland was not kind to the Texas Stars in the first two games of their season long eight game road trip. With two prime opportunities to gain ground on the West Division's leaders, Texas faltered for a second time today.

Texas is self-admittedly not the most skilled team and Coach Gulutzan plays a defensive style. Goals for need to be timely and goals against sparing. Special teams also need to be a key to success. In the last two games, Texas has gone 0/8 on the power play including a five minute major and allowed 2 on 7 opportunities. It has to improve.

Matt Ford opened the scoring for Lake Erie halfway through the first period on a nice backhand to the forehand move. The Monsters outshot the Stars 15-10 in the period despite three power plays for Texas.

David Van der Gulik opened up a 2-0 lead for the Monsters on the power play in the first three minutes of the second period. Michael Neal answered the goal with one of his own 40 seconds later. The rebound goal off of Guillaume Monast's shot was Neal's 3rd goal of the year and Monast's first AHL point.

Things went from bad to worse in the third period as Matt Ford and Joel Chouinard opened up a 4-1 lead for Lake Erie. Dave Bonk got another goal for the Stars but the comeback was not to be. Luke Gazdic and Greg Rallo assisted on the goal.

Tonight's lines:
Segal-Tousignant-Sceviour
Gazdic-Roman-Backman
Bonk-Derlago-Rallo
Neal-Chupp-Mouillierat

Benn-Fortunus
Stephenson-Lukowich
Spang-Monast

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wathier (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (callup)

Francis Wathier is healthy but simply did not make it to Cleveland in time to dress for the game. He was coming in from Alberta.

Tonight's attendance was 7,510, mostly elementary school kids.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - February 16 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
29-18-3-3, 64 pts
#5 West Division
atLake Erie Monsters
27-22-3-5, 62 pts
#2 North Division
February 16th at 9:45 AM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

The team that the Texas Stars face this morning is really not much different in personnel than the one they faced two days ago. Lake Erie, however, is surely a different team in spirit. As previously mentioned in last game's preview, Lake Erie was in 7th place in the division when Texas faced off with them in early January. With the win over the Stars on Monday, the Monsters have slipped into 2nd place in the North Division, only two points behind top ranked Manitoba.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer points out that Lake Erie has gone 11-for-11 on the penalty kill in the last 3 games, including Texas's major power play on Monday. The Stars have to get their power play going against this team, especially when given seven opportunities.

Among teams ahead of Texas, only Peoria is in action tonight, playing Rockford. The Stars need to use this game to gain ground on their West Division foes. Houston has a matinee tomorrow and then everyone's back on the ice on Friday. Time to make those games in hand count.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Larsen, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (call up)

Website: lakeeriemonsters.com/
Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer
Twitter: @monstershockey

Wathier Sent Back To Texas Stars

After getting the callup yesterday, Francis Wathier is coming back to the Texas Stars without seeing any game action. The winger was called up to make it to 12 forwards with Brad Richards out but Toby Petersen's removal from the IR sent him back to Texas.

Trevor Ludwig Gets First Dallas Callup; Petersen Returned

Trevor Ludwig in last year's Calder Cup Finals (Credit: JustSports Photography)
Mark Stepneski reports today that defenseman Trevor Ludwig is getting his first NHL callup to Dallas. With Nicklas Grossman out of the lineup, the 25 year old Wisconsin native will travel to join the Stars in western Canada today. I would expect that Niskanen slides into the lineup, and Ludwig is a healthy scratch. When you're on a road trip though, it's always good to have bodies.

Speaking of road trips, the Stars are now down to five healthy and available defenseman with the callup of Ludwig, departure of Blindenbacher, and injury to Larsen. Coach Gulutzan said Larsen was out for ten days from Saturday, so I would expect that a call to Idaho is in order. Guillaume Monast has played a few games with Texas already this year, but there are travel concerns to think about. Monast, or whoever is called up, will have to be with the team by today due to the early game tomorrow. I will update when I know more.

Also, Dallas is expected to recall Toby Petersen after his one game conditioning stint in Texas.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Stars Start Road Trip with an L, 3-2

Colton Sceviour and Monsters defenseman Scott Langdon chase down a puck in tonight's game in Cleveland. (Credit: Ben Hall/Lake Erie Monsters)
In a night where no other AHL teams were in action, it was the Texas Stars chance to make the most of their games in hand with a win over the Lake Erie Monsters. Despite 34 shots on Jason Bacashihua, Texas could not get past the Monsters. Ultimately, it was the power play that dropped the game for Texas. A five minute major power play for the Stars should have been a big momentum builder, but instead killed the momentum as the Stars struggled to even get setup.

Lake Erie opened the scoring in this one with David Van der Gulik tapping home a rebound off a Scott Langdon shot. Langdon was just recently signed to a PTO and actually has played for the Allen Americans for most of the year. The assist was his first point in the AHL.

To close the period, rookie Mark Olver took an ill-advised major penalty for spearing Mathieu Tousignant. Spearing is also an automatic game misconduct. Olver, the team's second leading scorer, was lost for the game and Texas had 5 minutes with a clean sheet to work their PP. The Stars did not manage a single shot in the PP and took until mid-period to earn their first of the middle frame.

The Monsters scored again to put Texas in a 2-0 hole just eight minutes into the period. Travis Gawryletz collected his third of the year on a wrap around while Van der Gulik picked up his second point of the night with a primary assist. To close the period, however, Dan Spang jumped up on the play in the Monsters zone and collected a rebound from a Toby Petersen shot to put Texas on the board.

The Stars got themselves in penalty trouble in the third period with Luke Gazdic taking a high sticking minor, followed shortly by Greg Rallo for tripping. Texas managed to kill the 98 second long 5-on-3 and swing the momentum in their favor. The momentum swing would be short-lived as Texas went on the PK themselves and Ryan Stoa scored the first PP goal of the night by either team.

With Richard Bachman off the ice for the extra attacker, Dave Bonk would score his first goal with the Stars with just 9.4 seconds left in the game. Coach Gulutzan took the timeout to gather his troops and develop a strategy for the last few ticks, but it was the Monsters' night ultimately as the puck trickled harmlessly in on Bacashihua to end the game.

Tonight's lines:
Segal-Tousignant-Sceviour
Petersen-Derlago-Rallo
Gazdic-Chupp-Backman
Neal-Roman-Bonk

Benn-Fortunus
Stephenson-Lukowich
Spang-Ludwig

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Mouillierat, Blindenbacher (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Wathier (callup)

Technically, Blindenbacher was a scratch tonight, despite his decision to leave the team.

Tonight's attendance was 3,058.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Lake Erie - February 14 2011

Blindenbacher Leaves Texas Stars for Europe

Blindenbacher in December 4th game against Houston (Credit: Byrd/Texas Stars)
Severin Blindenbacher's scratch on Saturday may have been a lead up to this. Blindenbacher has decided that he will return to Europe after spending 26 games with the Texas Stars this season. He hoped to crack the NHL roster with Dallas but was plagued with injuries this season, preventing him from doing so. He will return to Europe where the less physical style of the game there will surely help his injury issues.

Mike Heika reports:
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said today that Blindenbacher has left the team and plans to return to Europe.

Blindenbacher was signed to a free agent contract in the summer and was hopeful he could make the NHL roster. However, he never played an NHL game and battled injuries with the Texas Stars. He played in 26 games and had a goal and nine assists.

"It's been a rough season for him with the concussion and everything, and he just decided it wasn't working out," Nieuwendyk said.

Texas Stars Report: Stars Take The Show On The Road

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
The Texas Stars (29-17-3-3, 64 pts, #5 West) finished up a brief four game homestand this week before heading out on the road for a season-long 8-game road trip. The trip, which will see them play those 8 games over just 14 days, comes at a dangerous time for the Stars. With so many key players out of the lineup due to callup or injury, it could be difficult to maintain the Stars' current .615 points percentage. Coach Gulutzan is hoping for .500 hockey on the road and is well aware of the challenges in front of his team.

However, the Stars have crawled out of their "6th place" spot, in terms of points, to 5th. While the Stars know that they rank better by points percentage, Coach Gulutzan said there is definitely something psychologically boosting about not seeing yourself in 6th place every night, even when you're winning.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Wathier to Dallas; Petersen to Texas on Conditioning

Dallas media reports this afternoon that Francis Wathier has been recalled to the NHL for the team's Canadian road trip. Speaking of road trips, Toby Petersen will be joining Texas for at least part of theirs. The Dallas forward has been out with a leg injury since the 2nd of January. He last played in the AHL in 07-08 for the Iowa Stars. He could begin his conditioning assignment tonight in Lake Erie.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
29-17-3-3, 64 pts
#5 West Division
atLake Erie Monsters
26-22-3-5, 60 pts
#4 North Division
February 14th at 6:00 PM
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

The Stars begin their road trip tonight in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters. Texas has already played the Monsters twice this season, both in Texas, and split the two games. Texas will play the Monsters twice this week to close the season series.

Lake Erie has been a positive story recently for the city of Cleveland, unlike say the basketball team, for example, crawling from last place in the North Division the last time Texas played them, to 4th place and playoff contention. Since beating Texas in early January, Lake Erie is 10-5-0-1.

Much like Texas, however, the Monsters have been spread thin by injuries recently. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer breaks it down:
Just when Lake Erie coach David Quinn thought things were settling down this season, three players -- Greg Mauldin, Julian Talbot and Jonas Holos -- went down last Friday in a loss to San Antonio. Two days later, Ben Walter suffered an upper-body injury in the final seconds of a victory over Abbotsford.
A big part of Lake Erie's success has been the play of goaltender John Grahame, who went 9-3-0-1 in the last 13 games and was named AHL Goalie of the Month for January. Grahame was recalled to Colorado late last week but has been returned ahead of tonight's game. Grahame was in the pipes for their win over Texas on January 8th.

Ryan Stoa and Ben Walter, who is injured, lead the season scoring against Texas, both with 1-2-3. Francis Wathier is the only active Star with more than one point on the season against Lake Erie at 1-1-2.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Larsen, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour (call up)

Website: lakeeriemonsters.com/
Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer
Twitter: @monstershockey

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stars Beat Rockford 2-1, Move To 5th Place

Last night, the Stars talked a lot in the room about getting too complacent in the second period, in which they yielded three goals to Rockford. Texas Coach Glen Gulutzan went to the video room with the team earlier today and was happy with the result, "They picked up a lot of their mistakes." Texas slowed down the game tonight and tried to minimize those mistakes that got them in trouble last night and had yet another positive result, this time in less dramatic fashion. "We kept it simple today," said goalie Richard Bachman. "Limit turnovers and mistakes."

The Stars had previous allowed a goal in the first 60 seconds of the past two games. Texas put up a clean sheet through the first minute and beyond in tonight's game. In fact, it was Texas that struck first with Brandon Segal tipping home a shot from Ondrej Roman with just 9.6 seconds left in the first. After being outshot 5-2 at one point, Texas closed the period with an 8-7 shots advantage.

Roman was again the benefactor of a tip in the second period, but this time it wasn't a Texas stick. On the power play, Roman threw a puck to the net from the right wing circle. The shot, which wasn't even on net initially, was tipped unintentionally by Rob Klinkhammer into the net. Roman has now scored five points in his last four games, over a quarter of his season total of 17. The Stars outshot the IceHogs 24-12 through two periods thanks in part to a plethora of power plays.

Rockford would attempt to even up the score by pelting Bachman with 12 shots in the third period. "You expect it," said Bachman. "The guys really handled it well, boxing out for me and letting me see the puck." The rookie netminder only allowed one goal in the game, a power play tally from Ryan Potulny that came while Texas was outmatched 6-on-4 thanks to a delayed penalty to Cody Chupp.

The weekend went just as well as Texas could have expected. They now depart on an 8 game road trip after collecting four points in their last two games at home. They have crawled out of their "6th place" spot, in terms of points, to 5th as well. While the Stars know that they rank better by points percentage, Coach Gulutzan said there is definitely something psychologically boosting about not seeing yourself in 6th place every night, even when you're winning.

Tonight's lines:
Wathier-Roman-Rallo
Segal-Tousignant-Sceviour
Gazdic-Chupp-Backman
Neal-Bonk-Derlago

Benn-Fortunus
Stephenson-Lukowich
Spang-Ludwig

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Mouillierat, Blindenbacher (scratched)
Larsen, Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 5,588.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - February 12 2011

Dallas Assigns Wathier

Francis Wathier has been returned to the Texas Stars by Dallas this afternoon. The left winger is expected to be back in Austin by gametime, but it is uncertain if he will play.

Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced on Saturday that the NHL club has placed Krys Barch on Injured Reserve with a facial injury, retroactive to Feb. 3, when he suffered the injury at Boston. The team also announced that it has assigned left wing Francis Wathier to the Texas Stars, Dallas’ development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Wathier, 26, has appeared in three games for Dallas this season, going scoreless. He has also played in 44 AHL games for Texas, recording 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists). Wathier represented Texas at the AHL All-Star Game on Jan. 31 in Hershey, Penn. The 6-3, 208-pound winger was Dallas’ sixth round selection (185th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Barch, 30, has appeared in 32 games for Dallas this season, scoring one goal and one assist with 80 penalty minutes. He originally signed with Dallas as a free agent on July 18, 2006.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
28-17-3-3, 62 pts
#6 West Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
20-22-3-4, 47 pts
#8 West Division
February 12th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

As per usual, a shorter preview for the second game of a back-to-back. The Stars are looking to start a streak as they head into their season long eight game road trip after tonight's game.

Rockford on the slate again has to look like a favorable match-up for Texas to get another two points and setup a two game winning streak. "We want to get rolling before this road trip," said Dan Spang postgame last night.

After the way last night's game went down, Rockford is definitely going to come into the game motivated to win even just a little bit more. Texas needs to keep their intensity up for all 60 minutes and not get complacent as they did last night at any point. Despite being in last place in the division, all of these divisional rivals are talented and can burn you if you get too settled.

Winger Luke Gazdic expects a chippier game than last night, but still a lot of the game. Both teams have "a lot of character and physical guys" as he sees it and that leads to very grinding matchups often times.

Nevertheless, Texas is looking forward to another chapter in the rivalry, which is certainly not one you'd expect: "Rockford, Illinois," said Gazdic. "You wouldn't see that on paper as being the biggest rivalry, but it's become a pretty good one."

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Larsen (unspecified day-to-day)
Gagnon, Sawada, Wathier, Vincour (callup)

Website: icehogs.com
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dave Bonk Added as PTO

You might have noticed #14 on the ice this evening, wearing a name that's four letters long and starts with a "B". No, it's not Jamie Benn on a conditioning assignment, it's Dave Bonk. Bonk has played most of the season with the Americans but has had some time in the AHL with the Barons. Bonk was in Texas training camp this summer but was ultimately sent down to Allen.

Here's the release:
Prior to the game, the Texas Stars announced the team has signed center Dave Bonk to a PTO (professional tryout agreement). The 28-year old center has played the majority of the season with the CHL’s Allen Americans. Bonk has appeared in 33 games with the Americans, scoring 15 goals and 29 assists for 44 points. The 188-pound center also appeared in six games with the Oklahoma City Barons this year, posting one assist and four penalty minutes. Last Season, the Brandon, MB native played with the Manglerud Star in Norway. Before joining Manglerud, Bonk played with the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors during the 2008-09 season. The center led the Condors in points and assists (31g-51a=82) in 60 games. Bonk made his Texas Stars AHL debut on Friday night against the Rockford IceHogs.

Texas Scrapes By Rockford 6-5 In OT

Tonight's game in Cedar Park Center was a back and forth battle that definitely didn't have to be. The Stars ended up getting the two points, but not without considerable gray hairs being added to Coach Gulutzan's head. "It was not a pretty two points. It's not the way we wanted to win," said winger Luke Gazdic, who had a goal and an assist in the game. "But a win's a win."

The Stars allowed a goal in the first 60 seconds of the game for the second straight contest, with Igor Makarov tallying his sixth of the year after a mishandle behind the net from goaltender Brent Krahn. From there on out, however, the first period was all Stars.

Texas rattled off four goals before going to the locker room. Power play goals from Luke Gazdic and Brad Lukowich were bolstered by even strength tallies from Michael Neal and Cody Chupp to make it 4-1 after 20 minutes. The crowd was energized with the final two goals coming in the last 62 seconds of the period.

The second period brought Alec Richards to replace Hannu Toivonen in net for the IceHogs. It also brought three IceHog goals. Slamming away at rebound on the power play, Pierre LeBlanc got the first goal of the period to make it 4-2. A sequence of failures to clear the puck and establish a good first pass out of the zone allowed Rockford to score a 3rd and 4th goal as well. The buzzword in the room postgame for the second period was "complacent". "We need every point we can get right now so we can't give up leads like that," said defenseman Dan Spang.

Rockford reclaimed the lead in the third period, and the crowd was deflated. Texas clearly was as well and brought out the physical play. With Luke Gazdic just doen serving a penalty, he accepted a Fortunus break out pass and threw it towards the net where it was tapped in my a hard-charging Spang.

The game would need more than 60 minutes to be decided. Texas fought hard in the OT period and was rewarded after a mental mistake by Rockford forced a too many men penalty on the visitors. With just 3.3 seconds on the clock, Spang found Greg Rallo in the left wing circle. Rallo slapped home a one timer that beat Richards clean and set the score at a 6-5 final.

The first half of the weekend's must win games completed, Texas sets its sights on these exact same Rockford IceHogs. As we have experienced in the past, the second game of a back-to-back series is usually chippier and more physical. The Stars are expecting that for tomorrow night, especially since tonight's game was so disappointing for the Hogs.

Tonight's lines:
Segal-Tousignant-Sceviour
Rallo-Mouillierat-Derlago
Neal-Roman-Chupp
Gazdic-Bonk-Backman

Benn-Fortunus
Blindenbacher-Lukowich
Spang-Ludwig

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Stephenson, Larsen (scratched)
Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Wathier, Vincour (callup)

Larsen did not play tonight. No comment from Stars staff on his status. Former Star Ivan Vishnevskiy did not have a point in tonight's game but was plus-2.

Tonight's attendance was 5,545.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - February 11 2011

Morin Out; Larsen Questionable Tonight

Morin in last year's Calder Cup Finals (Credit: JustSports Photography)
Stars forward Travis Morin did not participate in morning skate today before tonight's game against the Rockford IceHogs. Morin did not return to the game on Tuesday after banging himself up boarding a Houston player. After sitting his two minutes in the box, Morin left the game. He is currently day-to-day with a lower body injury and not expected to play tonight or tomorrow.

Rookie defenseman Philip Larsen also did not skate this morning. He has not been ruled out for tonight's game but is questionable for the contest.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
27-17-3-3, 60 pts
#6 West Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
20-22-2-4, 46 pts
#8 West Division
February 11th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Feeling like you haven't seen the Rockford IceHogs in a while? You would be right. The AHL scheduler put together a curious season series for Texas and the IceHogs with all 3 games in Rockford coming before the Hogs make their first trip to Austin.

The last time we saw Rockford in the flesh was April 17th, 2010, when Brent Krahn and the Texas Stars were two games away from their series sweep of the IceHogs in the opening round of the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs. This year, Rockford is about the only team in the West Division who cannot, at this point, make a legitimate argument that they are a playoff bound team.

With the only losing record in the West and 12 points behind 7th place Chicago, Rockford is a team that Texas should indeed beat twice this weekend. If Texas does not garner four points this weekend in the two games against Rockford, this weekend will be a massive disappointment. With Rockford so low in the standings, it doesn't matter if they are OT or SO victories even, all that matters is the "W".

Winning over Rockford this year is not a given, however. In eight regular season games last year, Texas had a 5-3 record over Rockford with one of those losses coming in the garbage time just before the playoffs began with both teams resting their best players. This year, Texas is 1-2 against the IceHogs. Each Texas goaltender has one start; Krahn won, and Bachman and Beskorowany lost.

The top players for Rockford on the season have been the top players in the series with Jeff Taffe, Ryan Potulny and Shawn Lalonde topping scoring at 6, 5 and 4, points respectively. For Texas, the scoring has come from defensive players with Colton Sceviour being closely followed by Dan Spang and Maxime Fortunus in scoring in the series.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Wathier, Vincour (callup)

Website: icehogs.com
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Aeros Fly High Over Texas, 4-1

Same story, different night for these Texas Stars against the Houston Aeros. After tonight's 4-1 thumping, Texas stands at 1-6-1-1 against the Aeros on the season. Unfortunately, Texas faces Houston 3 more times this year. "Some years, some teams have your number," said Maxime Fortunus post-game. "But we've done it once and if you've done it once, we can do it again."

The night started out with the Stars chasing the Aeros from the outset. Justin Falk made it 1-0 only 61 seconds into the game off a rebound. Recently returned center Travis Morin came out like a pinball on a shift in the middle of the first and finished the shift by taking a boarding call. Morin appeared shaken up after the play and did not return to the game. Houston did not score on the power play, but did score shortly thereafter off the stick of Jed Ortmeyer. Texas went to the room down 2-0 after 20. "We can't start the game down two-nothing because we're chasing all game long," said Fortunus.

Texas continued the chase in the second period, but it was all Houston once again. Patrick O'Sullivan scored his 3rd goal in two games against the Stars to make it 3-0. O'Sullivan was completely unguarded by the net and had all the time in the world to pot his 6th goal of the year in only 9 games played.

The Stars broke up the shutout for Anton Khudobin in the third with a nice wrister from Colton Sceviour that beat the netminder stickside high. However, Cody Almond got one back almost as quickly and closed out the scoring.

The best parts of the night for Texas may have been the fisticuffs with Jordie Benn showing off the boxing lessons that he and his brother, Jamie, took in the offseason. Jordie's dance partner, Colton Gillies, left the ice bleeding from his face quite profusely.

Tonight's lines:
Segal-Tousignant-Sceviour
Rallo-Morin-Derlago
Neal-Roman-Backman
Gazdic-Chupp-Stephenson

Spang-Blindenbacher
Larsen-Lukowich
Benn-Fortunus

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Spang, Mouillierat (scratched)
McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Wathier, Vincour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 4,818.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Houston - February 8 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
27-16-3-3, 60 pts
#6 West Division
v.Houston Aeros
29-19-1-3, 62 pts
#4 West Division
February 8th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After being manhandled in Houston, the Stars welcome the Aeros into the Cedar Park Center. The only win the Stars have had over Houston came in Cedar Park on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. On the whole, the Stars are 1-5-1-1 against the Aeros, gaining a total of only four of a possible 16 points on the season. In a division where points are at a premium and against a divisional team, Texas has to do better.

The keys to Texas' success may have just returned from Dallas. Recent assignments Travis Morin (2g-5a-7p) and Colton Sceviour (2-3-5) lead the season series in points. Greg Rallo, Maxime Fortunus and Dan Spang round out the top five.

With two top caliber netminders at his disposal, Coach Gulutzan will have nightly decisions to make for the first time in three months. Bachman has performed beyond expectations, starting in 18 of the last 20 Texas Stars games. He is ranked #6 in the league goalie rankings and is tied in GAA with AHL All-Star starter Jake Allen of Peoria.

I believe Coach Gulutzan went with Krahn in net on Friday to shake things up a bit against a team that had snakebitten the Stars in the past. With Krahn having taken his shot, it will be interesting to see who goes tonight in Cedar Park.

Stars injury/call up report:
McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Wathier, Vincour (call up)

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

Texas Stars Report: Missing Pieces

The Texas Stars Report on Defending Big D...
It has an interesting week for the roster of the Texas Stars (27-16-3-3, 60 pts, #6 West). Injuries, of which readers of this website are well-aware, caused the callup of five different players to Dallas. Those five players have accounted for 53 of the Stars' 136 goals on the season.

Texas signed two Idaho Steelheads, Kael Mouillierat and Mark Derlago, to fill the gaps. In addition, Coach Gulutzan had Jordie Benn and Matt Stephenson play up to make it to 12 forwards on Friday night. "Obviously, our best players are gone so we have to work harder," said forward Ondrej Roman. Despite all of the roster upheaval, Texas did exactly as you might expect this week. The Stars lost to a team they always seem to lose to and won against a team they always seem to beat.

Among important notes for Dallas fans was the return of the one they call Cobra, Brent Krahn, to the net for the Texas Stars. Krahn missed almost three months with a lower body injury. His return in Houston was less than triumphant, but it was a positive for the overworked Richard Bachman, who had started 18 of the team's last 20 games to that point.

Texas now begins a brutal stretch of games. The Stars will play 14 games in 24 days, beginning with last Friday's game in Houston. This stretch also includes two 3 games in 3 days segments and a season-long eight game road trip.
Read more at Defending Big D...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Updating Our Texas Stars Arena Music List

I haven't mentioned this one in a while, so I thought it'd be a good little activity for a slow news day. I currently maintain a list of all of the music that is played at the Cedar Park Center during Stars' games in a Google document. You can view that document by navigating to this link.

The trouble is, I need your help to keep it up to date. We haven't done this in a while, so take some time to think about your favorite songs and check if they are on the list. If not, make a comment with the song title and artists on this post or on the music post, which is also available in the sidebar. If you don't know the song but know some of the lyrics, a Google search is usually a good start, but you can also post the lyrics to see if anyone else knows.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Roster Shuffling for Morin, Sceviour, Derlago and Vincour

There have been a few moves for the Texas Stars over the past 24 hours. Let's start with last night.

Before the game last night, the Stars added Mark Derlago from the Steelheads of the ECHL. Derlago played in last night's game against the Barons, recording no points on the wing of a line with Kael Mouillierat and Matt Stephenson. Derlago is an ECHL All-Star who has also played in the AHL with the Providence Bruins and the Manitoba Moose. Richard Bachman played with Derlago last year in Idaho and said he was excited to see him again in front of him on the ice.

Meanwhile, Dallas has decided to switch out the players called up to the big club. Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour have been returned to Cedar Park today while Tomas Vincour has been called up for the first time in his professional career. Travis Morin got into three games while Sceviour played last night in his first NHL game.

Two veteran bodies back for Coach Gulutzan is a good thing. Tomas Vincour had an assist in each of his last two games but is still 5-7-12 overall on the year. The Czech rookie was one of the last players sent down to Cedar Park and surely the Dallas brass would like to take another look at this player.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Stars, Bachman Continue Dominance Over Barons, Win 3-0

Depleted by injury and surrounded by some new faces in the locker room, the Texas Stars pulled together as a group tonight to gain two points against West Division opponent, the Oklahoma City Barons. Individual standout performances from Richard Bachman and Ondrej Roman highlighted the night. "It has been tough with guys in and out of the locker room," said Bachman. "We were looking for a strong performance and a good start and Roman really got us going."

Indeed it was Ondrej Roman with all the scoring in the first period. The rookie forward got it going on the power play just before the 7 minute mark. A persistent effort got the goal on the third or fourth hack at the puck on the right side of the net. Eighty-nine seconds later, it was Roman again, this time catching Martin Gerber too far out of his net and manuevering around the Swiss netminder to backhand the puck in easily. Roman deflected praise postgame and pointed to the strong team effort: "We played a good team effort. Obviously our best players are gone so we have to work harder."

With a two goal lead and a rocking Cedar Park Center, the Barons tried to slow down the game with crashing and banging in the second period. "You expect it when you've got the lead at home," said Bachman. "They tried banging our bodies and taking us into the boards to create some turnovers."

The Barons were unsuccessful in their efforts as Bachman continued his strong play against the club on the season. Bachman had 30 saves on the night, including at least two off of his facemask, to shut out OKC. Of the facemask saves, Bachman said: "Stickless, I figured I'd stop it with my head. Probably not the smartest thing to do, but at least my mom didn't see it."

Brandon Segal collected the night's third goal in the third period, an unassisted tally, to wrap up the scoring. Matt Stephenson was named the night's third star as he took his second evening of forward duty. The "forward" had several key blocks and showed great skill in a defensive forward role. He also installed himself in front of Martin Gerber with regularity on the night. Is it possible that Stephenson might find more time in the lineup at wing? Maybe Coach Gulutzan found something great out of all the lineup shuffling.

The Stars are next in action on Tuesday against the always difficult Houston Aeros at the Cedar Park Center.

Tonight's lines:
Vincour-Roman-Neal
Rallo-Tousignant-Segal
Gazdic-Chupp-Backman
Derlago-Mouillierat-Stephenson

Spang-Blindenbacher
Larsen-Lukowich
Benn-Fortunus

Bachman

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Ludwig (scratched)
McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Morin, Sawada, Wathier, Sceviour (callup)

Tonight's attendance was 5,738.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Oklahoma City - February 5 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
26-16-3-3, 58 pts
#6 West Division
v.Oklahoma City Barons
27-18-2-5, 61 pts
#5 West Division
February 5th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Coming out of the All-Star break, the West Division has started to gain some modicum of separation between 1st and 7th places. Unfortunately, the Stars are on the wrong side of that separation in 6th place.

For the first time in a while, there are actually four points separating first from sixth. Texas, which failed to pick up a point last night in Houston, stayed at 58, while every other team in the West ahead of them picked at least one point. Texas is still in the playoffs by points percentage at 4th.

The Barons were one of the teams picking up points last night, going to the shootout with the Peoria Rivermen. OKC could be a great tonic for the Stars injury woes. With 5 players in Dallas to relieve the NHL club's injuries, Texas played two defensemen at forward last night and had no non-injury scratches. The Stars have won five of six from the Barons with their only loss coming in a 6-1 shellacking in the first game between the two teams.

Six of the seven top Texas scorers against the Barons are out of the lineup tonight. The Barons have players in the NHL as well, but they have not made an impact against the Stars, given how few games they have played. The top scorers for OKC are Brad Moran, Chris Vandevelde and Shawn Belle.

I expect Richard Bachman would take this start tonight since Krahn took last night's start unexpectedly. I wouldn't pin the loss on Krahn last night; it was a team certainly out of sorts. Taking out all of those players messes with your special teams. Houston scored two PP goals, which is certainly somewhat attributable to the fact that every player in Dallas right now plays on the PK. Almost the entire PK unit was in Dallas last night, and that hurts. Hopefully travel was not too treacherous from Houston last night and Coach Gulutzan got the chance to work on PK and even PP with some of the new bodies.

Stars injury/call up report:
McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Morin, Sawada, Wathier, Sceviour (callup)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Oil Field Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dallas Recalls Sceviour

Colton Sceviour earned his first callup to the NHL today. Apparently the winger had been trying to make it out to Philadelphia for the better part of the day, but inclimate weather here in Texas prevented his flight from leaving. Sceviour was the last remaining Star to have played in every Texas Stars game in team history before being held out of tonight's game in Houston.

Here's the release:
Prior to the game, the Dallas Stars announced that the club has recalled right wing Colton Sceviour from the Texas Stars, Dallas' development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Sceviour, 21, is looking to make his NHL debut. He has appeared in 47 games for Texas this season, scoring nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points with four penalty minutes and a +6 rating. A native of Red Deer, Alberta, Sceviour was originally selected by Dallas in the fourth round (112 overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Depleted Stars Fall in Houston 4-1

This was a tough game in the midst of a tough week for the entire Dallas Stars system. With injuries aplenty in Dallas, five players were out of the lineup in Philadelphia or en route tonight. Coach Gulutzan iced 8 defenseman and 10 forwards, having Jordie Benn and Matt Stephenson play at forward with the PTO signee from Idaho, Kael Mouillierat.

The Stars and Aeros skated to a scoreless first period with shots advantage going to Houston 10-7. The goal scoring got started in the 2nd period with Houston's PP getting going. Warren Peters started the play behind the net, passing to Jon DiSalvatore in front of the net. The captain backhanded the puck to Patrick O'Sullivan, who scored the first goal of the night. The power play goal was the only tally by either team in the second period.

The power play was again deadly for the Stars in the 3rd period. O'Sullivan got his second of the night again on the power play. The forward scored his 5th goal in 8 games from the right wing circle to make it 2-0. Under 40 seconds later, another play from behind the net beat Brent Krahn. Matt Kassian fed it out from for Palmer, who made it 3-0 with 9:57 left in the game.

Luke Gazdic broke up the shutout bid by Anton Khudobin, collecting his own rebound in the crease to score his 6th of the year. Tomas Vincour collected the only assist on the power play goal at the 15:06 mark of the third period. With Krahn on the bench for the extra skater, Maxim Noreau picked up the empty netter to end things. The Stars are back in action tomorrow night against Oklahoma City in Cedar Park.

Tonight's lines:
Rallo-Tousignant-Segal
Backman-Chupp-Neal
Gazdic-Vincour-Roman
Benn-Mouillierat-Stephenson

Larsen-Lukowich
Fortunus-Blindenbacher
Spang-Ludwig

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Morin, Sawada, Wathier, Sceviour (callup)

Benn and Stephenson played up at forward for this game. Fortunus returned to the lineup after missing three games with a lower body injury.

Tonight's attendance was 6,277.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Houston - February 4 2011

Wathier Recalled to Dallas

Adam Burish has been placed on IR and Francis Wathier has been called to take his place. Texas now has 11 forwards available even with Mouillierat. No word on what will be the outcome. I will update when I know more.

The Stars are likely to insert Matt Stephenson into the lineup as a forward to make it to 18 skaters.

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
26-15-3-3, 58 pts
#6 West Division
atHouston Aeros
28-19-1-3, 60 pts
#4 West Division
February 4th at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

The Texas Stars made an early get away to Houston last night to beat the snow that came in today. The Stars bus was probably looking a little thin as they made the trip down I-10. With 3 players called up to Dallas and two more on the injury list, Texas needed to sign a PTO player just to make it to twelve for tonight's game against the Aeros.

Speaking of injuries, this weekend marks the first time that Brent Krahn will dress for a game since mid-November. The goaltender will be unlikely to play this weekend, in my estimation, but will be on the bench in case of injury to Bachman. Bachman has been an iron man for Texas, starting 18 of the last 20 games. Krahn's return is certainly welcome for the rookie.

The Aeros come out of the All-Star break on quite a hot streak. Houston has earned points in nine of their last ten contests, including a 3-1 win over Texas on the January 21st. Overall this season, Texas is struggling mightily against the Aeros. With a 6-1-0-0 record, Houston has had the upper hand by far in the season series. Despite that, Texas could pull even with the Aeros in the standings with a win tonight. The Stars also have a much better points percentage than the Aeros, .617 to .588. Both are playoff caliber teams, but Texas has to hope that they don't pull the Aeros come playoff time.

The captain, Jon DiSalvatore, leads all skaters in points against the Stars this season with 5 goals and 3 assists. Former Star Warren Peters is next with 4 goals and 2 assists. Several players round out the top five at 6 total points.

Anton Khudobin has yet to fall to Texas this year in 4 games of work. Matt Hackett is 2-1-0-0, suffering the Aeros only loss against Texas, a 5-3 loss just before Thanksgiving in Cedar Park.

Stars injury/call up report:
Fortunus, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Morin, Sawada (call up)

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

Stars Sign Steelhead Kael Mouillierat to PTO

The AHL transaction sheet indicates this morning that the Stars have signed forward Kael Mouillierat of the Idaho Steelheads to a professional tryout contract. With so many forwards in Dallas and several others injured, Coach Gulutzan was looking at only 11 forwards ready for tonight's game in Houston. This necessitated a callup.

Texas invited Mouillierat to training camp in September. The rookie has been named the ECHL Rookie of the Month and is 11th in the league in scoring with 17 goals, 27 assists and a plus-5 rating. Mouillierat scored a goal in a preseason game with the Stars against the Rampage. He and fellow Steelhead Mark Derlago were on my short list of players that Texas might sign to get to 12 forwards.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Morin Passes Out, Will Not Play Thursday

Credit: Byrd

According to Dallas media, forward Travis Morin passed out in the airport while the team was waiting to fly to Boston yesterday. He was taken to the hospital and released. Morin did not travel with the team and will not play tonight in Boston.

"We know he tested out fine today, so we'll see what happens tomorrow," Stars coach Marc Crawford told the Dallas Morning News. "We're fine right now, and we'll see if we if he can join us after that."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Texas Facing Injuries, Callups at Worst Possible Time

The callup of Travis Morin among others puts Texas in a precarious position as the stretch run begins. (Credit: Texas Stars/Byrd)

Back in August when the schedule came out, we all looked at February and said "not again". The Stars would once again play 14 games in the shortest month of the year. Last year's schedule saw the Stars play 14 in 27 days, including a 5 game road trip to the northeast. This year's schedule will see Texas in 14 contests in only 24 days, including two 3-in-3s and a season-long 8 game in 13 day road trip.

After today's callup announcement, Texas will have many of their regular contributors in the NHL or the press box to start the month. Injuries to Scott McCulloch and Maxime Fortunus deplete the lineup significantly. Fortunus's injury has been confirmed as lower body, and his day-to-day status is certainly encouraging for Stars fans. McCulloch is also lower body, but he is farther away from resuming skating.

Meanwhile, injuries to Tom Wandell and Jamie Benn have put Aaron Gagnon, Travis Morin and Ray Sawada with the big club. The three veteran forwards combine for an average of 1.7 points per game for Texas and knock out an entire lines-worth of players for Coach Gulutzan. It will be all hands on deck and then some on Friday as Michael Neal and Cody Chupp will likely be pressed into action from the press box.

Additonally, Aaron Gagnon played his 10th NHL game of the season last night against Vancouver, which means he would have to pass through waivers to return to Dallas. If Texas ever gets the centerman back, don't expect it to be before the trade deadline. He may be the straight-up replacement for Wandell in the lineup.

Adding insult to injury is the Stars' divisional race. There are only two points separating first from sixth. Texas is in sixth by points but by points percentage, Texas ranks 2nd in the West Division, just behind Milwaukee. Save for the Admirals, Texas has at least one game in hand, and as many as four, against every team above them. This is the right time to hit your stride and go streaking.

Last year, Texas went 5-9-0-0 in the month. The Stars' February 2010 was bolstered by winning streaks to end January (5 games) and to start March (3 wins, wins in 7 of 8). Ten points in February is not going to get it done in the West Division this year. Such a record would drop Texas to a .557 points percentage and from 2nd to 6th in the rankings.

It is extremely likely that 5th place in the West will make the playoffs by moving over the North Division. Sixth place, however, will be scheduling tee times come April. Without a doubt, the next four weeks will define the season for your Texas Stars.