Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Iowa Wild

Texas Stars
4-1-0-0, 8 pts
#4 Pacific Division
atIowa Wild
1-3-1-1, 4 pts
#5 Central Division
October 24th at 7:00 PM
Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, IA

The last time Texas played Iowa, the Wild held the worst record in the league and Stars fans were rooting for the OKC Barons to win their game so that the Stars didn't have to play Rockford in the first round of the playoffs. That didn't work out so well, did it?

Maxime Fortunus
(Credit: Iowa Wild)
Now Iowa is re-tuned and ready for a new season. From a Stars' standpoint, the biggest change on the Iowa Wild is their captain. For six seasons, Texas Stars fans had only known Maxime Fortunus as a Star. As the seventh season dawns, Fortunus has moved on to a two-year deal with the Iowa Wild, where he serves as their captain.

As you can see at the right, Fortunus looks just a little strange in anything other than a Texas Stars jersey. The Wild saw his veteran savvy as a useful asset and snapped him up on the very first day of free agency. He's played in all six games so far this season and scored a goal in the Wild's most recent contest against Rockford.

One peculiarity of the Wild's situation this season is in net. John Curry and Johan Gustafsson were not a winning pair for the club, and Iowa cleaned house. Curry hasn't signed anywhere this season, and Gustafsson is in Sweden. Instead in net, the Wild pulled Leland Irving back to North America from Russia. Irving, who you'll remember as the next big thing for the Flames organization circa 2012, is on an AHL deal. Jeremy Smith, their other tender, is on an NHL deal, but it's not with the Minnesota Wild. Smith is assigned to Iowa by the Bruins, who could recall him at any point of course and leave Iowa without two goalies.

The Wild organization can have two goaltenders at the AHL level who can't be called upon to play for their NHL squad because Minnesota has three goalies on their roster right now. The Wild signed a multi-year deal with last year's standout goalie, Devan Dubnyk, and have Darcy Kuemper on contract for this season slotted in the backup spot.

That leaves Niklas Backstrom in the awkward spot of third wheel. Previously the Wild's top goalie, he is now "open to being traded" if that's what the Wild want to do with him. It's amazing how fast things turn in the league.

Texas will look to rebound from the tough loss they suffered on Wednesday. The net for Texas will be an interesting discussion as well. With three games in four days, both tenders will likely get a start. I would be Muse takes one of these weekend games, and Lagace starts the other two.

Stars injury/call up report:
Campbell, McKenzie, Faksa (call up)
Dowling, Mangene (injury)

Wild Web Resources:
Blog (Official): I Wild Blog
Twitter: @IAWild
Twitter: @IowaWildFish (former Stars PBP Josh Fisher)