Weekend Preview: Texas Two Steps With San Antonio

Q: Will the Rampage get the better of the Stars this season in the standings?

SM: I’ll start with the big, bad controversial opinion right up front. I’d love to be wrong, but I think the Rampage are going to top the Stars in the standings this year based on early returns. I’m not sure if that’s a 2nd and 3rd place finish or a 6th and 7th place finish right now, but Texas isn’t clicking quite yet and San Antonio is.

RP: I respectfully disagree. [Ed. Note: Booooo!] I may regret this position, but the Rampage don’t have young studs Jordan Binnington and Sammy Blais around anymore. Remember Binnington? He was so good that he could’ve fought the entire Texas bench at once and beaten them. The Rampage tend to slump at the end of the season, and I’m not sure this version of the team is better than last year’s.

SM: That’s Stanley Cup champion Jordan Binnington, for what it’s worth… And I’ll concede your point. The Rodeo Road trip always controls the destiny of the Rampage. But here’s the thing that saves you when you slump late in the season: points in October and November. Right now, Texas isn’t racking those up and San Antonio is. An optimist would look at the wins being just one apart, but I would point out that Texas has just one ROW and San Antonio has four. They’re getting it done in 60 minutes and so far Texas is not.

(credit: Texas Stars)

RP: The truth is that I’m not in love with either team at this point. So if the bar is just being better than Texas, then San Antonio has more than a real shot. My counterpoint is that the Stars have yet to play their best hockey and are only three points behind the Rampage, who are playing up to their potential.

SM: In the spirit of a preview, I’ll agree that San Antonio certainly does have some things clicking. Nathan Walker is the current AHL Player of the Week and has 12 points in nine games. They’ve also got blue line scoring in bunches with four of their top five scorers being defensemen. Finally, goaltender Ville Husso is SA’s best shot at a great season, I think, as a former AHL All-Rookie.

RP: Either way, these teams have twelve contests ahead of them to sort it out.

SM: Don’t we know it…

Q: Based on their start to the season, what kind of adjustments should we make to our personal expectations for this team?

RP: It can be a stinging reminder to die-hard fans of AHL teams that the league is first and foremost a developmental league. Before the start of the season, I was intrigued by the veteran blue line and offensive upside of the youth movement. The more I watch the games and interact with the coach and players, the more I sense that this will be a developmental year. If we can zero in on some of the prospects and track their progress, it can be an enjoyable experience. I’m not thinking playoffs at this juncture, and that’s okay.

SM: It’s hard no doubt to realize that Calder Cup dreams may not be upon us in June. The Stars appear to be destined to hover around .500 this season unless they’d like to pull off a Nationals/Blues turn around sometime around January. If Jason Robertson was going to have an amazing offensive season, he’d look more like Chicago’s Lucas Elvenes (4-11=15) right now than he does. The fact that Tye Felhaber has a single point in ten games tells you that the offensive upside is not materializing.

Injuries & notes:
Hanley, Caamano (callup)
Heatherington, Melnick (injury)