|(Credit: Texas Stars)|
Staring down an absolute gauntlet slate of three games in three nights on the road, the Texas Stars’ margin for error is growing slimmer. With one against the class of the Central in Milwaukee and two against a talented roster in Grand Rapids, the Stars have their work cut out for them if they want to come out of this weekend in playoff positioning.
How much do we trust the Stars to earn a playoff spot?
Ryan Pennington: It seems that every time I write something hopeful about the Texas Stars they throw it in my face. So, I’m trying a different approach. It’s hard to complain about a stellar January in which the Stars went 8-3-0-0. But in their two most recent losses Texas looked...kind of putrid. These were two games against inferior opponents in San Antonio and Rockford, cookies on an otherwise brutal road schedule. I guess it’s not necessarily that they lost those games, but more of a foreboding feeling about what lies ahead considering they didn’t bank those points.
Stephen Meserve: Fans with a deep memory will recall just last year when a Texas team that seemed to have sorted things out went from postseason to golf season over the course of a wretched swing through the Pacific division that saw them drop five in a row and hit a 2-9 skid over late January and into February. Aside from a late season string of four wins spurred on by ATOs, the Stars wouldn’t put together more than two wins in a row for the rest of the year and missed the playoffs. This road trip could be season-defining in that regard. The youth of this roster could show through in this challenging stretch and that would be the concern I have with this team making the playoffs.
Scenarios for this weekend--the good, bad, and ugly?
RP: I think good can be something identical to what the Dallas Stars did this past weekend, taking five of the available six points in the Tri-state area. Asking for the full six would just be setting yourself up for disappointment. Bad would be winning the Milwaukee game but dropping both Grand Rapids games. Ugly would be coming away with no points at all. Recalling last season’s winless California trip, that sort of result cannot be repeated if the Stars hope to make some noise in late April.
What do we make of a potential first round match-up with Karl Taylor’s Milwaukee Ads?
SM: Given the 12-game losing streak early in the season, I think making it into the postseason is a win in and of itself. If Texas gets a single win against the Wisconsin buzzsaw that is the Admirals hockey club this year, that’s a good result. Playoff hockey is different and even a short three games is better than zero. Obviously it’s putting the cart before the horse, but if Texas is to win a playoff series, it’s going to be on the back of stellar goaltending. As we’ve seen time and time again, goalies can steal series and sometimes championships.
Injuries and callups
Mascherin (upper body)