Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
13-8-1-1, 28 pts, 0.609
#4 Pacific Division
v.Milwaukee Admirals
15-5-2-1, 33 pts, 0.717
#1 Central Division
December 16th at 7:30 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Landon Bow will get the start for Texas. Julius Honka has been reassigned from Dallas.

Editor of Admirals Roundtable, Daniel Lavender, joins us again to talk about the Admirals...

HDH: Is Milwaukee back to "Admirals hockey" this season? It certainly seems so from the win loss record and the goals against numbers.

DL: The record looks fantastic but there have been many occasions that the results could have just as easily fell short. The Admirals are getting coined the Cardiac Kids this season for their resilient comeback ability in games. They didn't lose a single game in regulation during the month of November but that also includes seven out of ten games played in that month going to overtime or even further. They play with good pace. They are starting to do a good job working around the net for gritty goals. The lone blip recently is persistent penalty troubles caused by a little over-aggressiveness. The running joke I've had is the Admirals have been either the top team in the league or one-of this season and we've yet to see them playing at their full potential.

HDH: It looks like this squad has some solid vets who are making an impact (Smith, Zolnierczyk, Bass). Is that a correct read? What's the makeup this year?

DL: The veterans that were brought in this season have been tremendous. Trevor Smith is a great on and off ice leader. Harry Zolnierczyk, Adam Pardy [Ed. Note: a former Texas Star], Cody Bass, Mike Liambas, and Adam Payerl all add such a great veteran style leadership to the locker room. I feel that, especially through some of these up down and around cycles within games, has been the driving force to a lot of the success had this season. Nobody ever looks like they are in a panic. Everyone is always calm and under control.

HDH: Goaltending is always a strength in Milwaukee. Is that still the case this season? Should Texas expect to see each goalie once this weekend?

Juuse Saros, currently in Nashville
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
DL: When Juuse Saros arrived a season ago he did so with the Nashville Predators trading Magnus Hellberg away for a packet of peanuts just to clear a spot for him in the AHL. He had a massive amount of hype surrounding him that I just didn't think he could meet. Not only did he meet expectations a season ago but he has long since surpassed them. Him allowing four goals in his last AHL outing may have been the best sign I've seen from him just to let me know Saros is in fact human. That said, the Predators don't appear to have much of a clue as to who or how they operate the back-up gig to Pekka Rinne this season. Saros isn't here anymore. Marek Mazanec is. This is already the third time this season that they've rotated the two and the idea is to maximize minutes for both. I'm sure Jonas Gunnarsson, our AHL back-up, is a bit lost as to when he gets to do the same but it's the way it has been. I don't know if they will rotate Gunnarsson in but both should be game should they get the call.

HDH: With the penalty numbers, is this a rough and tumble team? For what it's worth, Texas is not and tends to attempt to punish those types of teams with speed. (Mixed results though...)

DL: Oh. Well. That sounds like a whole lot of not good for us then! The catch with all the penalty troubles that the Admirals have been running into isn't out of sheer stupidity or dropping the gloves. With that new (and really dumb) AHL Fighting Rule in place the Admirals are tied with the Grand Rapids Griffins for the least amount of fighting majors in the league this season with only five fights. The Admirals penalties have simply been over-aggressive plays. Milwaukee Admirals head coach Dean Evason describes it as the players are putting themselves in a position for the penalties to be called and the referees are calling them. There is a balance between hard-nosed defending and puck pressure and shooting yourself in the foot by going to the penalty box a lot. The Admirals are fourth in the league for being shorthanded the most amount (121 in 23 games). It needs to change regardless of how well the penalty kill has been.

[Ed. note: Sounds a lot like how Texas get their penalties this season, huh?]

HDH: Any other interesting stories?

DL: There's always plenty of good stories around this organization. I feel the recent NHL call ups for Frédérick Gaudreau and Mike Liambas are up there for some of my favorites to see: undrafted guys, ECHL, AHL, earn then NHL deal, and then get to the NHL. It was fantastic to see. Then the rookie defenseman Alex Carrier is another one. He has been playing alongside Pardy since the Admirals acquired him early in the season and the 20-year old just hasn't looked his age one bit. Carrier has 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) in 23 games and is present and almost first choice defenseman in all situations. He's a good one.

Stars injury/call up report:
Honka (call up)
Backman (mid-body injury)
Werek (injury)

Admirals Web Resources:
Team blog: In The Crease
Online media: Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals