|(Credit: Taylor Sammarco/Texas Stars)|
Looking to avoid ten straight losses, Texas hits Toronto Saturday afternoon. It's a matinee game, so this preview is going up Friday afternoon.
So, now we’ve got bad blood?
Stephen Meserve: Seventeen months after they faced each other in a Game 7 to hoist the Calder Cup, Texas rematches with Toronto for the first time. Six players are still there from the Cup run, which is both a lot for the AHL and not a lot in terms of general hockey. Landon Bow, Dillon Heatherington, John Nyberg, Joel L’Esperance, Reece Scarlett (currently injured) and Gavin Bayreuther are those players.
Ryan Pennington: Perhaps that will mean something, but my guess is that this just feels like another couple of games for the guys in the dressing room. Toronto is also rolling along, as per usual, and are primed for a top seed in the East playoff picture. The Stars are going to need more than a spark to come away with points--more like one of those propane blowtorches that my friend used on a bonfire the other night.
SM: Propane. Taste the meat, not the heat…. Anyways…
If Texas can’t win this weekend, what’s the big shake up?
SM: There are only a few spots to look at to make a change: coaching and players. Nothing about what I understand regarding the relationship between the coaching staff and the Dallas Stars front office suggests that there would be any changes in the middle of the season in the coaching staff. As much as agitating fans may salivate at the thought, it just doesn’t seem likely.
RP: The obvious place to look is at the trade market. The Stars desperately need some veteran leadership to come in and help get this thing on the right track. That’s no knock against Dillon Heatherington and Michael Mersch--those guys can only do so much. Remember how the tone in Derek Laxdal’s voice changed when they brought in Taylor Fedun last season? Though Fedun only played three games for Texas, he had the full trust of the coaching staff, and Laxdal couldn’t say enough about him.
SM: Similar to last year’s Fedun trade, you have to look at what teams have veteran rule logjams. WBS has a number of vets (and Texas native Stefan Noesen among them). Utica and Lehigh Valley also have a lot of veterans who would like more playing time. Trading cross conference would be ideal, although the Penguins do actually play Texas this year. For whatever it’s worth, Dallas was in Vancouver last night. The Canucks are Utica’s parent club and could be a trade partner.
Is this the end of the Texas Stars playoff hopes?
RP: We’re talking about a nine game losing streak with the potential to extend. That has to be church, right? Curtains. Fin. If you want a template to go by, I don’t recall St. Louis having a nine game stink show last season. I’ve said something similar before, but my suggestion is to stop looking at the standings at all this season and just zoom in on player development.
SM: I guess it’s time to play the “playoff line” game. Right now, the line for the playoffs in the Central is .538 or 82 points through the full season. Last year, no one got in anywhere in the league that was below .553 or 84 points, so let’s make that the line. Texas has 61 games remaining, which is a ton of the schedule still left to go. They’ll need 76 points in those 61 games to make it to the playoffs in our scenario. That puts it at 38-23 (.622) or better to make the postseason. Barring a miraculous turnaround, I just don’t see it. If they lose these two this weekend against Toronto, that’s a 38-21 (.644) mark to hit from there.
Injuries and callups
Hanley, Caamano, Gardner (callup)