|L'Esperance shoots against Kahkonen last year|
(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)
A big part of Iowa's success has been the play of their goalies. Mat Robson, an undrafted free agent pickup out of the University of Minnesota, has been quite good so far in his rookie year, going 4-2-3 with a 2.06 GAA and .929 SV%. Kappo Kahkonen is with the big club right now, so it looks like it will be Robson's show this week against Texas.
The Stars are certainly not claiming any sort of moral victory for breaking their streak, although the team morale was indeed much improved after the win. Texas center Nick Caamano noted it was only one win in the postgame scrum. It certainly represents a good start up the very tall mountain that will be the next several months, if this team is to get back to contention. The Stars still need a 2-to-1 ratio of wins to losses to make it.
The elephant in the room is that scratch list from Saturday night: Ben Gleason, Adam Mascherin, Brad McClure, Tye Felhaber. Coach Laxdal noted that some players were put on the shelf because they weren't putting in the effort and getting results. Clearly, the move worked. Now the challenge for each of those players is to prove that they should be back in the lineup.
The Stars have definitely not gotten what they expected from the forwards in that group. They're all expected to be goal scorers but combined for just four goals, three of which have come from McClure. Felhaber gets a bit of a break for being a rookie, but the OHL phenom put up 109 points last year with the 67s. That has to translate at some point. Ben Gleason, and all of the Texas defense, has been guilty at times of being too free-wheeling and treating defense more like a secondary concern. The team certainly didn't break that trend on Saturday, allowing six goals and tons of Grade A chances, but the message needed to be sent.
As much as who wins the game, the thing to watch is who comes out in warmups. Does Laxdal ride with the same lineup as Saturday or is there a new group of healthy skaters in the suite level tonight?
Injuries and callups