The Texas Stars (25-15-3-2, 55 pts, #6 West) have been scraping and clawing all week long to get back into the top 4 of the West Division. And yet, no matter how hard they try, they can't gain any ground. Texas collected 5 points in their 8 games this week and is still in 6th place in the West.
However, "6th place in the West" is a little deceiving. As of Tuesday morning, only two points separate first from sixth. Just two more are between sixth and seventh. "There are no easy games," said forward Colton Sceviour. "You play someone who is technically last place in our division, and they have a heck of team and play well. This division is going to come down to the last weekend in the season."
"I don't know if anyone is going to get any separation in this division," said Coach Gulutzan. "We have a lot of teams that are very equal."
Griffins Outlast Stars in 4-3 OT Win
(HDH blog link)
The Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) managed to steal a game from the Stars in OT on Tuesday night. Goals in the game for Texas came from Brandon Segal, Mathieu Tousignant, and Jordie Benn. Benn's goal, which tied the game at two, was his first AHL goal.
Up 3-2 with under 5 minutes left, Texas allowed the tying goal on the power play and then fell in OT with both goals coming from Jordan Owens. The Stars managed 42 shots but Jordan Pearce stopped 39 of them. "Their goalie played very well tonight," commented Tousignant. "We got a couple of chances that we didn't capitalize on."
Read more after the jump...
Aeros Clips Stars 3-1 in Houston
Texas traveled to the familiar Toyota Center for yet another game against the Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild) on Friday. Texas has had a lot of trouble with Houston this year (1-4-1) after winning 8 of 12 against them last year. The Stars got on the board first with the first AHL goal from Michael Neal, younger brother of James Neal.
Unfortunately, it was all Houston from there on out. Casey Wellman tied it up, Robbie Earl got the go-ahead, and captain Jon DiSalvatore sealed it with an ENG.
Stars Send Sellout Crowd Home Happy With 2-1 Win
For only the 5th time in the regular season, the Stars sold out the Cedar Park Center. Almost seven thousand packed the CPC to watch a tight, grinding game with the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators).
Texas opened the scoring int he second with Greg Rallo's 13th of the year. Assists went to Sean Backman and Severin Blindenbacher, playing in his second game since coming back from injury. The only other regulation scoring came in the third when a botched pass from Brad Lukowich to Philip Larsen ended up in the back of the net for a 1-1 tie.
Ultimately the game went to a shootout. Colton Sceviour and Ray Sawada both scored with nice backhand moves at the left post to win the game for Texas. Milwaukee and Texas have now played to two shutouts, an OT and a shootout game on the season. "We're both similar teams with similar systems, so it's a battle back and forth all night," said goaltender Richard Bachman, who had 28 saves on 29 shots and earned second star honors.
Rallo Nets 2 As Stars Win in OT, 3-2
(HDH blog link)
Texas and the San Antonio Rampage (Phoenix Coyotes) faced off last night. The Stars mounted 40 shots against their former teammate, Matt Climie, even as the Rampage blocked 18 more. The Stars got on the board first with a fancy tip from Aaron Gagnon practically on the goal line 10 feet to the right of the net.
Greg Rallo had mop-up duty after that. San Antonio scored two to make it 2-1 in the third. Rallo collected a fortuitous bounce off a Rampage shinpad to pot his 14th of the season and tie it at two. In the OT period, it was Rallo again, this time with a one-timer from the left wing faceoff dot. Rallo had two goals and an assist in the game.
The Week Ahead
The Stars play two games this coming weekend and then will have the better part of next week off for the All-Star game in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Texas visits Oklahoma City on Friday to take on the Barons (Edmonton Oilers) then returns home to face the Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) on Saturday. The All-Star game will be played on Monday and will be broadcast on FOX Sports Southwest at 6:00 PM. Texas's representative is forward Travis Morin, who will start the game.
Greg Rallo is going great guns right now with 4 points in his last two games. The forward, who is on a line with Travis Morin and Sean Backman, is second on the team in scoring with 15 goals and 14 assists.
As Brandon scouted in Houston, it's a really tough road right now for Ondrej Roman and Tomas Vincour. Part of the issue has been high expectations. Both are first year pros, however, and it must be understood that they are in the AHL to mature and become better players. Many of the second year players for Texas, such as Colton Sceviour and Mathieu Tousignant, are now blooming as they grow more comfortable in their own skin. That is what we need to hope for from Vincour and Roman.
Severin Blindenbacher returned from injury this week. Brent Krahn is still out but has begun skating again. Krahn is expected back the first week in February. Maxime Fortunus was unexpectedly scratched on Monday night. No word from the team on what may be the issue. Scott McCulloch is still out with a lower body injury.
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.