Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Will It Take to Put the Texas Stars in the Playoffs?

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
Texas is in a tough spot. In seven years in Cedar Park, the Stars have only missed the playoffs once. As the eighth playoff push ramps up, Texas is an extremely precarious position: seventh place in a division that only sees the top four make the dance.

The current playoff line is set at .588. Rounding up, that works out to 90 points for the Stars. Currently, the club is at 45 points in 44 games. This means the team needs to match its output so far in the remaining 32 games. That's the same amount of points with 12 fewer games to get there.

That's 23 wins in 32 games.

Now you might be able to argue that getting wins against the 'right' teams, such as Stockton (5 remaining) or Tucson (2) might make that number a bit lower. However, Texas essentially still needs to win twice as many games as they lose for the rest of the season.

That's the math, but how do you get there?

Better goaltending
The Stars made an acquisition last week to get themselves right in this area. Landon Bow and Maxime Lagace both had .894 SV% last week before the trade for Justin Peters. The new acquisition has a win and a loss, stopping 49 of 53 shots against him on the weekend (.924 SV%). You expect that any night your goalie allows 2 or fewer goals, you should be able to win the game. For Texas, this is especially true as they average more than 3 goals per game.

Special teams
On the power play, Texas has scored just 3 power play goals in their last ten games, a stretch of 43 opportunities (7.0%). The Stars even had several games with 6 or more opportunities that saw they go scoreless with the man advantage. Coach Laxdal said he's seen the team doing better this weekend with Saturday's power play effort earning a ton of chances just never cashing in.

On the penalty kill, Texas has been at the bottom of the standings for most of the year. Currently at 76.4%, they are last in the league. One issue has been the number of penalties the team has taken. Whether it is more aggressive play or just not getting the calls like they used to, the Stars are uncharacteristically high on the penalty minutes count, 9th in the league. They average 15.18 minutes per game, including five minor penalties. The math works out to just under five power plays for the opponent per game. With the AHL's middle of the road power play averaging 17.6%, that works out to around one goal per game most nights.

Luck at the deadline
This is one you can't do much about. Depending on whether Dallas is a buyer or seller, the Texas Stars could see their fortunes turn. If Dallas is a seller, a hot prospect could be part of the deal coming back to the organization, earning Texas a boost. If Dallas is a buyer, they could send a player or two from Texas away. Additionally, roster movement in Dallas could necessitate callups or assignments to fill out the lineup or hit roster limits.

2 comments:

  1. Great summary. I think this would be a valid write up for both Dallas and Texas. Seasons that started with so much hope are now slipping through our fingers. Is it too early to hit the proverbial "panic button" for either club yet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you saw Texas do that last week with the Peters trade. After the losses to Chicago and Toronto, Dallas is looking more like a seller each day, which could really help Texas out.

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