Texas Stars Report: An Uneven Homestand

Maxime Fortunus in the Stars' Military Appreciation uniform on Saturday night. (Credit: Texas Stars)

With the dust settled in the AHL from the NHL trade deadline, the Texas Stars (34-22-4-5, 77 pts, #3 West) now focus on the playoff push.  Within the week, Texas got two weak losses against non-divisional team, but earned two keys wins against divisional foes.  It was a very up and down week for Texas overall.

For the first time in my tenure covering Texas, Coach Gulutzan used the media to send a message to his players.  His quote from after Tuesday night's 5-3 loss to Abbotsford:

"I thought we had some guys who didn't show up and they're guys who haven't played heavy minutes. If I had a do-over here, I'd probably insert a couple new guys in the lineup."

General Manager Scott White echoed as much the next morning on a local sports talk radio show, saying that he would "kick the tires" on players around the AHL ahead of the AHL's Clear Day deadline.  The message was heard loud and clear as Texas won its next two against San Antonio and Houston over the weekend.

Clear Day, which was Monday, March 7th this year, is the day that all teams must submit their Clear Day roster, a list of all players who will play in the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs.  Substitutions may only be made in case of injury, callup or suspension.  Texas may sign amateur players outside the Clear Day roster.  Some of these who may be signed include Brenden Dillon and Scott Glennie, both Dallas prospects.

Texas played a day game against the Syracuse Crunch on Monday, and Ray Emery was in the cage.  Texas came out flat and ultimately lost.  They now head out on a five game road trip with a tenuous hold on third place in the West Division.

More on each game and a look at the overall playoff race inside...

Heat Melt Stars 5-3 in Cedar Park
(HDH blog link)

Stars goals:
Greg Rallo (Brandon Segal)Brad Lukowich (PP) (Aaron Gagnon, Colton Sceviour), Francis Wathier (Gagnon)

Notes:
This game was not as close as it appears on the face of it. Stars were down 3-0 in first 14 minutes, never made it back.

Stars Win Heart-Stopping Game 6-5 in OT
(HDH blog link)

Stars goals:
Segal (Mathieu Tousignant, Maxime Fortunus), Raymond Sawada (Jordie Benn, Fortunus), Sawada (Fortunus, Scott McCulloch), Cody Chupp (Luke Gazdic, Benn), Gagnon (Sceviour, Lukowich), Rallo (PP) (Gagnon, Dan Spang)

Notes:
Stars were up 4-0 to start this game.  Brandon Segal took a charging major and the Rampage scored 3 times on the PP.  Rampage came back and scored total of five goals in the third period.  Aaron Gagnon tied up the game with the extra attacker, and Greg Rallo won it in overtime with his team leading 20th of the year.

Texas Cruises By Houston 3-1
(HDH blog link)

Stars goals:
Fortunus (Segal, Gagnon), Segal (PP) (Philip Larsen, Gagnon), Rallo (EN) (Larsen)

Notes:
Texas has a 2-6-2-1 against Houston after Saturday's victory.  Victory snapped 6 game losing streak against Houston.

Stars Outworked By Crunch 3-1
(HDH blog link)

Stars goals:
Lukowich (PP) (Rallo, Sceviour)

Notes:
First Stars home day game in history. Ray Emery starting in net for Syracuse Crunch.  Texas scored on just 19 seconds into the game, trailed for remainder of game.

Playoff Picture

Things are really bunched up. If you thought the NHL's Western Conference was bad, check out the projected points for the AHL's West.  The second through sixth place teams are all slotted to finish with either 94 or 95 points.  The Stars are going out on a cross-divisional road trip, so they are not completely in control of their fate.  The West will continue to rack up points around them without their influence.

The Week Ahead

Texas will travel to play again against the Syracuse Crunch (Anaheim Ducks) on Friday in New York. They will continue the road trip with Saturday and Sunday games against the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens) and Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs).

Injuries

Brent Krahn is your only Star out with an injury right now.  Francis Wathier missed Saturday and Monday's games but is expected back for the road trip.

You can always follow the Texas Stars by reading my blog at HundredDegreeHockey.com, following me on Twitter @100degreehockey, or becoming a fan on Facebook.

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