|(Credit: Andy Nietupski / Texas Stars)|
The Texas Stars are set to begin a four-game road trip in Canada with a two-game series against the Manitoba Moose. Texas has not lost a game in regulation since their 7-5 loss at San Jose on November 7, finding themselves with at least one point in four straight games.
With a 2-0-1-1 record during their home series against Colorado and Grand Rapids, the Stars are riding their longest streak without a regulation loss this season. In the Stars’ first game against Grand Rapids of the season, Colton Point struggled and was replaced by Adam Scheel in net. Texas ended up losing the game in overtime despite a two-goal showing from Joel L’Esperance and a 4-for-4 night on the penalty kill. In the second game of the series, Scheel made his first start between the posts this season and ended up putting together a strong performance. Scheel posted a 0.912 SV% and earned his first win of the season with the help of a game-winning overtime goal from Ben Gleason.
Manitoba recently finished up a three-game series with the Milwaukee Admirals and will be completing a five-game homestand with their two games against the Stars. Manitoba won two of the three games in their series against Milwaukee.
Saturday’s game will be the first matchup between Manitoba and Texas since the 2019-20 season. On top of that, Texas has not won a game away at Manitoba since the 2018-19 season. The last victory for Texas in Manitoba came when Michael Mersch scored an overtime goal on March 15, 2019. So far this season, Manitoba is just above Texas with a 0.594 points percentage compared to Texas’ 0.500 points percentage.
Both Texas and Manitoba are currently ranked in the top-10 of the AHL when it comes to penalty killing. Manitoba has a 87.5% success rate on the PK and Texas is at 84.6% this season. Looking at the power play numbers for both teams, Manitoba is near the middle of the AHL pack while Texas currently sits bottom-five in the league. Considering Manitoba’s strong PK unit this season, the Stars PP will have to take a big step forward this weekend to make any kind of impact on the series.
Something to keep an eye on this weekend will be Riley Tufte’s return to the Texas lineup. Tufte is back with Texas after completing his first-ever NHL stint with Dallas. Even after missing four AHL games during his time in Dallas, Tufte is still tied for second on the Texas Stars in goals and his entrance back into the lineup could provide a significant boost to the team.
As Jake Oettinger continues his undefeated streak in the NHL, it is looking increasingly likely that Colton Point and Adam Scheel are going to be spending a significant amount of time in the Texas net for the rest of the season. Scheel posted a strong performance in the Stars’ most recent game and it would not be surprising if he ends up starting against Manitoba on Saturday.
Texas’ first game against Manitoba of this weekend’s series will start at 2 PM on Saturday and the second game of the series will take place starting at 2 PM on Sunday.
Injuries, callups and scratches
Joel L’Esperance (scratch)