Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at San Jose Barracuda

Texas Stars
11-7-0-1, 21 pts
#3 Pacific Division
atSan Jose Barracuda
6-7-0-3, 15 pts
#6 Pacific Division
November 28th at 3:15 PM
SAP Center, San Jose, CA

Texas comes off a two-day break on the road to play the San Jose Barracuda this afternoon for the first time in team history. I reached out to Tasha Hudick, who is covering the team this year, for a Q&A. (Follow her at @3eyeraven.)

HDH: What is this team's identity right now? Who should we be looking out for?

TH: The Barracuda are still struggling offensively and rely heavily on their top line, which is where all their big guns are stored: Bryan Lerg, Jeremy Langlois and Ryan Carpenter. Not only are they the scoring leaders for San Jose, but leaders in the dressing room as well. When Nikolai Goldobin is with the team he is a solid contributor, showing his skill with the puck both with goals and playmaking. He's been recently sent back down and was in the lineup when the Barracuda played Charlotte. Trevor Parkes is another to watch out for. They are offensively gifted but tend to give up a lot of odd-man rushes, their achilles heel this season. I think their defense is still trying to figure themselves out and they are a young group, their board battles need to be stronger and the neutral zone seems to be wide open especially against teams who thrive on transition games.

HDH: What's the goaltending situation like?

TH: It seems like they are getting the goaltending they need on the ice but not the run support to get the wins. With Grosenick and Dell, the Barracuda have some solid goaltending on the ice. Grosenick has seen more action and had an outstanding game against the Stockton Heat stopping 49 shots before facing a shootout which saw the Heat come out on top. Grosenick is a netminder who is consistently looking to improve his game and takes each loss as an opportunity to get better. Both goaltenders are pretty much even in starts and Dell has one more loss than Grosenick. I think for both of these guys, it is solid defensive support that is lacking. The defense backs into the zone too much and it doesn't give either of the netminders time to see the shot in time to make a quality save. Both of them can deal with traffic in front of the net.

HDH: The Texas-based Allen Americans are the Sharks' ECHL affiliate. Any thoughts on the connection so far?

TH: The Barracuda have brought up a few guys from Allen and several (Arsenaeu, Crane, Steffes, Hanson) were with the team to capture the Kelly Cup last season. The most recent callup Hanson is fitting in well with the rest of the Barracuda, contributing 2 goals since being brought up. The Sharks organization has consistently had success with their minor affiliates in developing goaltenders and the Americans are no exception with Rumpel and Gill showing talent between the pipes.

HDH: Like Texas, special teams appear to be a struggle for the Barracuda. What's not clicking?

TH: Near the bottom on the kill and middle of the pack on the power play. I think it relates back to struggling to establish a strong position on the puck, too many turnovers make it difficult to get anything going on the PP and the struggles defensively that they suffer from full strength bleed over into their kill time.

HDH: What has the callup situation been like with the Sharks and Barracuda sharing the arena?

TH: The Sharks have been taking full advantage of the next door nature of their AHL club. The Sharks have been trying to find the right combo of chemistry and it is almost a guy a night (Lerg, Goldobin, Mueller, Haley, Karlsson, Goodrow,have all been up and down) in the recent past when the team has been at home. I don't think this has done the Barracuda any favors especially early on in the season as they have tried to establish an identity and line chemistry.

HDH: How is attendance?

TH: Attendance hasn't been stellar and it is a big arena which makes it feel even more empty. I imagine the players notice this at home and there may be something to be said about the Barracuda's poor performance at home and the lack of energy in the home barn.

Stars injury/call up report:
Campbell (call up)
Elie (upper body)
Hulak (upper body)

Barracuda Web Resources:
Twitter: @SJbarracuda
Twitter: @3eyeraven (local coverage)