Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
8-8-0-1, 17 pts, 0.500
#4 Pacific Division
atChicago Wolves
4-9-1-1, 10 pts, 0.333
#7 Central Division
November 21st at 7:00 PM
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

UPDATE (11 AM): So you can scratch the whole goalie issue for Chicago as veteran G Michael Leighton is now in the Wolves fold.

UPDATE (3 PM): Texas has assigned Austin Fyten to Idaho. The forward had been injured this season and has only played one AHL game so far.

The last time Texas and Chicago faced off, no one knew what to make of any team in the AHL, least of all these two. It was the first weekend of the season, and the Stars took two games over the Wolves with a 6-5 scoreline in both. The commentary provided here was that Chicago would be off to a quick start and then fade away as injuries to both Las Vegas and St. Louis depleted their core.

It turns out those comments were very right, perhaps in an absurd way. The struggles of the Vegas goaltenders have been extremely well-documented. Four starting goaltenders have gone down with injury, including both of the goalies who started the season in Chicago. Neither one is expected back tonight. That has left the Wolves with C.J. Motte and Kasimir Kaskisuo in net for the club.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The Wolves were playing .500 hockey before those goalie callups, but it's been terrible since. Motte and Kaskisuo have combined for a 2-7-0-1 record. Making matters worse, the club lost Shea Theodore, who probably should have never been in the AHL this year to begin with, and Alex Tuch, who netted a hat trick against Texas in the opening weekend.

Teemu Pulkkinen is still a consistent threat at this level though, with 16 points in 15 games. Chicago, nonetheless, comes in with a six-game losing streak.

Texas will have a new look as it rolls out for the second game of a seven-game road trip. Mike McKenna will be in Dallas this evening, and Landon Bow and Philippe Desrosiers will be the goalie choices for Derek Laxdal. Perhaps not tonight, but eventually, you'd have to think Laxdal calls on Desrosiers to see what the kid can do at this level this year. He's 6-1-2 in the ECHL.

And, Texas will be without Julius Honka on defense. It's not expected he'll be back anytime soon either as Marc Methot is out 4-6 weeks recovering from a knee procedure. There are two options here as Matt Mangene could slide back to defense and put a forward in his place or Gavin Bayreuther could figure back into the lineup. Laxdal indicated that Bayreuther would likely be getting some healthy scratches upcoming, including both games this weekend, as he works to improve his game by taking a view from the press box.

Stars injury/call up report:
Elie, McKenna (call up)
Fyten (injury)

Website: chicagowolves.com
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves
Twitter: @theshaves (Wolves PxP)

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