Weekend Preview: Stars Host Chicago Wolves for Potential Playoff Implications

Texas faces Chicago twice to end a madcap week of four games in six days across three cities. It’s the last pair of games before the All-Star Break where Joel L’Esperance will represent the Stars in Ontario.

(credit: Texas Stars)

Is it still too early in the season to have a critical weekend for playoff positioning?

Stephen Meserve: It wouldn’t seem so if you look at the standings and this weekend’s opponent. The Stars own fourth place in the Central by points, but actually have a slim lead on Chicago in percentage. It’s the slimmest lead that can be had in the AHL, one-thousandth of a point. Either way, it’s unlikely that the Wolves and Stars will emerge from the weekend with the same separation in the standings. With a big weekend, the Stars can pass Chicago and cement third place at the All-Star Break. They’ve still got games in hand on everyone around them to boot. If Texas can generate some separation (watch out for a surging Grand Rapids), then they could be in pole position to get that 2-3 matchup with Iowa in the postseason in 3 months.

Ryan Pennington: I don’t believe that losing these games will sink them. On the other hand, coming away with two wins will give them surer footing going forward as they make their playoff bid. That means less scrambling for points down the stretch when things are air tight in the standings. Remember last season? There were several games we could point to that the Stars should’ve won but ultimately did them in. What they cannot do this weekend is coming away with zero points.

Who is the first half MVP for the Stars?

SM: The All-Star Break marks the unofficial halfway point of the season even though Texas will have made its way into the second half of their schedule by then. All-Star selections suggest that Joel L’Esperance is the MVP, but I’m going to go a little bit off script with Anthony Louis. He was the catalyst for the turnaround in the fall. Fifteen points in 24 games is certainly nothing to scoff at but his addition gave Texas a new piece on the power play, a deft offensive player who was just having an off season in Charlotte.

RP: Anthony Louis is the correct answer here, though you can’t really go wrong with either player. Louis’s arrival coincided with a massive Stars turnaround, and head coach Neil Graham has spoken on the veteran’s influence at length. Since you’ve already picked the most deserving players for this fake award, let me go with an unconventional dark horse--Emil Djuse. The Swedish product has far and away been the Stars best offensive threat from the blue line (26 pts) and has a knack for tallying primary helpers.

Injuries and callups
Mascherin (upper body)