This was not the way the Texas Stars wanted to come out of the holiday break. Having lost 4 of their last 6 games, the Stars looked to be in good shape to the right the ship today against the Rampage. The Stars held a 4-1-0-0 advantage over the Rampage, having won the past 4 in the season series. But it looked like the Stars had a little bit too much eggnog this Christmas.
The Stars' only goal was the first of the game at 12:47 of the first period. The Stars allowed an even strength goal three minutes later. Despite killing off a full 2 minute 5-on-3 the other way, the Stars could not overcome their special teams issues, allowing 2 power play goals. A fluky bounce off the end board at 14:43 of the 3rd period put the last nail in the coffin, 4-1.
The Stars could not capitalize on a shots advantage of 45 to 32 and went only 1/7 on PP opportunities, scoring only on a 5-on-3. Rampage goalie Tordjman played exceptionally well, stopping 44 of 45 shots by the Stars. The Stars certainly came out of the break shooting, almost doubling up on their season shots per game average of 25.64. However, they couldn't break through.
So, now having lost 5 of their last 7 and seeing their lead in the West division drop to 5 points with Peoria's victory over the Griffins today, where are the Stars? At one point early in the season, Stars goaltenders Krahn and Climie held the #2 and #3 positions on the GAA list for the AHL. But Brent Krahn has been injured for much of the past month and his current condition is still "week to week", according to head coach Glen Gulutzan. In those 5 out of 7 losses we just mentioned, the Stars have allowed an average of 4.2 goals per game. While the Stars have had some offensive struggles throughout the season, they cannot be expected to allow 4 goals a night and win with the regularity they experienced in the early season.
How is this fixed? The number one fix is one that we can't rush: the return of Brent Krahn. Matt Climie is an excellent goalie but is still developing. He has started all but one of the Stars games dating back to December 9th. Bachman, the Stars callup from the Steelheads, has started one game during the current slide, a loss to the IceHogs on the 12th of December. Perhaps with the Crunch coming in to town, owners of the worst record in the AHL, Bachman will start.
We will see how the Stars react to this tough loss on Tuesday at the Cedar Park Center.