Weekend Preview: Three Questions as Texas Heads to Des Moines

[Ed. Note: New question inserted following this morning's assignment of Denis Gurianov.]

The Texas Stars head into their second weekend of regular season hockey without a win. They’ll have to attempt to pick up their first victory against an Iowa Wild squad that has yet to lose after a strong opening weekend that saw the Wild dispatch two Central division foes. Here are three questions we believe will be sorted out by the final horn on Saturday night.

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

UPDATED Q: Denis Gurianov??

SM: That's the whole question. What can he do this weekend to make his mark? There are a variety of reactions to an AHL demotion. Some pout and some have fire in their belly to get back. From a purely selfish standpoint, the Texas Stars have got to feel like there is no better time to receive a 'fire in the belly' assignment from Dallas. If he wants his NHL career to continue, he needs to tear the AHL apart and prove that there is no question he doesn't belong here. For Texas, they welcome all the goals he can contribute until he departs.

Q: Will the Stars get the power play going?

RP: Running an effective power play is really just as much of a chemistry and experience thing as it is an Xs and Os thing. Make no mistake, the Stars are still finding their footing in the former category. Stars head coach Derek Laxdal talked openly after the losses last week about how some of the mistakes they were making on special teams were both from new players in new situations and the team being so young. Watching it has caused me to adjust my expectations. It will honestly be fun to watch how it all comes together on the man advantage this season.

SM: With the personnel changeover year to year in losing Travis Morin, Justin Dowling, Erik Condra and others, that chemistry still isn’t clicking. Part of that also has to do with the majority of an entire power play unit heading to the NHL before the season even started. However, Derek Laxdal is a power play specialist, and I would expect this team to be clicking into the 20% range by Christmas.

Q: How will Jake Oettinger respond to a rough outing?

SM: For all the words I spilled early this week on the pro schedule being different from the collegiate schedule, that’s actually not true in October. Texas is playing basically a college schedule for the first few weeks of the year. And Oettinger doesn’t even have to play both games.

RP: There are some who believe that Landon Bow will win the backup job for Dallas next season. I’m not quite in that camp. I believe it will be Oettinger. I could be wrong, but I have high expectations from the Boston College product. He was as cool as they come during his starts in some high pressure games at the end of last season. I expect he’ll be just fine after his shaky outing against Manitoba.

Q: Will Texas get a win this weekend?

SM: I think this is the overarching question in everyone’s minds right now, isn’t it? The October schedule for Texas, which has been essentially unchanged for several years, presents good and bad elements. If the team wins its home opener, which is always has until this year, the worst they can do is .500 hockey heading into a week of practice to adjust anything that didn’t go well in Games 1 and 2. Now with zero points in the first weekend, five days off is a long time. The good news is that road trips tend to bond teams together. Yes, an ideal weekend would see Texas claim four points in Des Moines, but that may not be a reasonable outcome as Iowa itself is yet to lose and on their home ice. Perfection would be four points; desired outcome should be three points or more. Splitting the series or worse is not acceptable.

I think Texas does get one win this weekend but there is an open question if they get a second.