Weekly PrevIew: Stars Could Push for Playoff Contention with a Pair Against the Penguins

(Credit: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins)

UPDATE 1: Texas has recalled G Tomas Sholl from Idaho. It's his first AHL recall. He will back up behind Jake Oettinger as Landon Bow will be held out for undisclosed reasons.

UPDATE 2: Nick Caamano is back in tonight for the first time since December 22.

The Stars and Penguins already tangled twice this season. When Texas went to Pennsylvania earlier this season, we collaborated with Chirps from Center Ice to build a preview that helped us understand the Pens a bit better, since we don’t see them very often at all. A lot of the ‘what type of team is this’ information from that article is still valid, so you should give it a read here before the games.

So, Stephen Johns, eh? (That’s the whole question.)

Stephen Meserve: Fans in the arena on Saturday night were witness to a pretty special evening from the Stars defender. The four-point effort from Johns has to make the list of top all-time performances in Texas Stars history. Now the question is whether Wednesday will be an encore performance. The Stars did step back his shifts in the third period a bit but only by a few minutes. If he is going to be ready for the NHL, he’s got to play a ton in the AHL, so expect a steady diet of the big defender tonight.

Of course, I say tonight and not this week because it is actually unclear if he will be in the AHL on Friday. Certainly because he’s shown that he is ready to play at the NHL level but also because the CBA rules on Bona Fide injury exceptions to the assignment rules got tripped up by Friday night’s forfeit. The rules indicate the assignment will last the longer of 6 days or three games. Does Friday’s game count as one of the three? It may be a moot point and Johns could be back in Dallas by the weekend. However, it’s an open question if they do want him to continue playing in the AHL. It may not be that much of an issue as Dallas can ask for an extension from the commissioner, and it will surely be granted. (Ed. Note: The NHL will not count Friday's forfeit as one of the three games.)

With this week’s games, Texas will complete its 8-game adventure against Eastern Conference teams. What is the verdict on the crossover?

Ryan Pennington: Aside from the scary situation with Toronto assistant coach Rob Davison that led to a cancelled game last week, this has been a pleasant and positive experience. As an overall fan of the sport, I just want to see more team colors in the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park and get to know more players in the league. I would be a huge proponent of the AHL adopting a scheduling formula similar to the NFL in which cross-conference play is limited while each division plays one in the opposite conference every season. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

I’m reminded of Twitter exchange I had with a reader of HDH a few weeks ago when Texas was playing San Antonio. The Rampage were being referred to by the opposing broadcast as the Chimuelos as the team was adopting that nickname for the annual Dia De Los Muertos observance. The reader noted that the jerseys were over the top, but I responded that it was a way to imagine that the Stars were playing a cross-conference team. We had a laugh at that.

Is this a playoff team?

SM: This is going to be the big question for the rest of the season (obviously). But this week is the first time Texas can jump above 0.500 since October. If they win tonight, they’ll do just that. Depending on what happens with Rockford Tuesday and Wednesday, they may even have a chance to be in the playoff hunt by the end of the day on Wednesday. The IceHogs play Grand Rapids tonight, so it’s anyone’s game. The fact that the Stars are within striking distance after the streak they went through earlier this year is remarkable. Add in the coaching changes and other turmoil and this is a team that, if they make it to the postseason, won’t be rattled by any adversity.

Injuries and callups
Caamano, Mascherin (upper body)

Anthony Nellis was reassigned to Idaho yesterday after playing one game with Texas.