Weekend Preview: Texas Faces In-State Rivals for First Time in Over a Month

(Credit: Andy Nietupski?Texas Stars)
Texas comes off a grueling jaunt through Illinois for a couple of Christmastide tilts against the San Antonio Rampage (11-13-5-3) this weekend. The home-and-home set could see the Stars pull themselves out of the basement and into tenuous playoff positioning or push themselves further into the deep, dank cellar of the Central.

What will four points against the Rampage mean at this juncture, if anything?

Ryan Pennington: It will mean that I am a lot closer to winning the bet we’d made about whether or not the Stars would finish this season ahead of the Rampage. Before we had a real read on what the Stars might be as a team, I guessed that they would once again best San Antonio in the standings. I almost immediately regretted the decision as the Stars went on to lose twelve straight. Now, here they are with a real chance to pull ahead. It’s still a tall order, but my prediction is still in play.

That’s about all it will mean, I guess. I think the Stars have to focus on just getting back to .500 before they think about anything else.

Stephen Meserve: Really wishing we’d put some money on that prediction. It’s going to be a lot closer than I thought though. San Antonio has lost eight of their last ten whereas Texas is 6-3-1 coming in. The Stars have yet to win a game against the Rampage this season, 0-3 so far. This weekend’s pair of games will break up the longest stretch Texas will have all season of not playing their in-state rival, a string of over a month.

What did the Texas Stars need to get under the tree this Christmas to get themselves into playoff position in the next four months?

SM: The first thing is definitely some opposition that is on their level, as it were. That we know Texas got for Christmas. Four out of the Stars’ next five games are against teams under .500. Aside from Iowa just before the New Year starts, Texas hits San Antonio twice along with Grand Rapids and Chicago.

Texas is also hoping to have received good health for Tanner Kero. Sidelined since Thanksgiving with a lower body issue, the veteran center would also love to pot his first goal as a Star. His stat line is assist-heavy as-is.

RP: How about a little scoring? The main reason the Stars didn’t fare better on their recent road trip was due to a bit of a dry spell in that department. Even in their lone victory on Sunday, they were the beneficiaries of five power plays in the first period and two instances of 5-on-3. Though the Stars scored enough goals in that contest, and Jake Oettinger did his part with a shutout, the chances were there for even more offensive fireworks. It’s time to uncork some to bring in the New Year.