Preview: Texas Opens Make or Break Seven-Game Segment Against Rockford

UPDATE: Texas has assigned Colton Point, Diego Cuglietta and Anthony Nellis to Idaho this afternoon. Point's departure indicates Landon Bow is ready to return to the net.

The calendar changes over from February to March this coming week and it’s about time to put up or shut up for the Texas Stars. With seven games in the next eleven days, all at home, this is a defining moment for the team. The postseason may not be guaranteed with a solid homestand here, but it could certainly be lost.

(credit: Texas Stars)

Let’s discuss the elephant in the room: the kick in the teeth that Texas took on deadline day.

Stephen Meserve: The loss of Emil Djuse is significant. There’s no two ways about it. It’s especially painful in that nothing came back from Florida in the trade that can help Texas this season. The Stars just got Djuse back from injury and looked to be ready to re-integrate him into the lineup fully on this home stretch. The leading D-scorer wasn’t sterling on the weekend though; he notched just one shot in two games and was minus-3. Several of Iowa’s goals could be directly attributed to a misplay by Djuse. He was also coming into the lineup cold against one of the best offensive teams in the league. Still, the loss is huge.

Ryan Pennington: How about some silver lining? The team isn’t exactly in dire straits on the blue line as that has been one of its strengths since game one. I think that one positive result from the Djuse trade could be a move away from the 11F/7D alignment coach Neil Graham likes to deploy. I’m not sure on the exact numbers, but to my eyes those lineups tend to struggle on offense. Also, this can provide an opportunity for guys to settle into more established roles with three left/right shot pairings. A Gavin Bayreuther-Reece Scarlett third pairing is still pretty good!

Dallas giveth and Dallas taketh away. What impact can Justin Dowling have on conditioning assignment from the NHL?

SM: It’s going to be a little strange to see Dowling in anything other than #10 for the Texas Stars, but the team will take him in any sweater number that’s available given what he can add to the lineup. With Texas, Dowling scored 295 points across 405 regular season games, about three points every four games. He can play in all situations for Texas and will be eager to get back to game speed. I think this assignment will be closer to Stephen Johns performance than Taylor Fedun’s disappointing stint with Texas.

RP: I agree with this prediction. Dowling will no doubt produce during his assignment. He also commands a lot of respect in the dressing room as there are several players on this roster who have played extensively under Dowling’s previous captaincy. At the very least, I believe the numbers will be there. As a bonus, perhaps he helps galvanize the group with whatever it is that veteran leaders do.

Seven games in eleven days. That’s the whole question.

SM: That wasn’t the plan. Not having the Monday game against Toronto would have spread things out a bit, but the schedule just didn’t work out that way. GM Scott White told 100 Degree Hockey by phone on Monday that he’s told the team that they just have to play the schedule that’s in front of them, no excuses. Clearly, the club would have preferred not to have the reschedule and did not ask for the game to be replayed, given they had the two points in the bank.

RP: This would be the ideal time to have a healthy roster so as to rotate some fresh bodies in and out of the lineup. But the Stars are still missing some key top six pieces in Adam Mascherin, who is done for the year, and Nick Caamano. With those guys out, here’s hoping that this stretch doesn’t turn into a gauntlet of attrition.

Injuries and callups
Caamano, Mascherin, Bow