Youth and a lack of finish have been talking points all year for the Texas Stars (21-24-2-2, 46 pts, #15 Western Conference). Those issues led to an inconsistent week for the Stars as an OT loss and come-from-behind win at home gave way to a five goal thumping in Rochester and a shutout loss against the then last place team in the conference. This team is seemingly stocked with talent, but the pieces are not coming together and haven't all year. Texas has spent most of the season outside of playoff contention and looks like they will finish it that way.
As it stands, Texas is on pace for 71 points, tied with the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) for last in the conference. The current postseason cutoff is at 84. To keep up with that pace, Texas needs no worse than 38 points in their remaining 27 games, or a 19-8-0 record. While the scheduling gods were kind in that Texas finishes with 16 of their last 27 at home, the playoff push could be over within the next few weeks depending on win-loss.
Despite all the negativity surrounding three losses on the week, Texas did have a very positive game on Wednesday, coming back from down 3-0 to win 6-3, including a hat trick from Ryan Garbutt.
More inside on each game, the week ahead, roster shuffles and injury reports...
The Stars got the first 15 shots in the game against the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators), but the Ads struck first. Milwaukee scored on their first two shots of the game to make it 2-0 by the end of the first period.
Texas mounted a comeback with two goals from Colton Sceviour and another from Travis Morin to go ahead 3-2. Milwaukee would have the last laugh as Ryan Thang potted the game tying goal in the third and Chris Mueller won it in OT. "We are struggling to win games," said Sceviour. "But one point is a step in the right direction."
Tyler Beskorowany got his first start in almost a month (January 8th at Rockford) and stopped 17 of 21.
Texas went down in the first period against the Ads for a second night in a row, this time 3-0. Wednesday's game was different though as the Stars mounted a comeback win for the ages in front of the home crowd in Cedar Park.
Texas got goals from Matt Fraser, Colton Sceviour, Scott Glennie and three from Ryan Garbutt to come back 6-3 in the game. Glennie picked up two assists, and Adam Pardy had three as well. Garbutt's hat trick was only the second home hat trick in Stars' history and the first in the regular season. The other was scored by Jamie Benn in Game 5 of the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs against Chicago. Jamie Benn had three goals and two assists that night.
Coach Pyle was extremely impressed with the character in the comeback win. "You're down by three and you say 'Oh no, here we go again', but they had a lot of character and battled back. That's what I love about them."
With a little swagger in their step from the 6-3 win, Texas walked into an ambush in Rochester. The Americans (Buffalo Sabres) treated the first-time visitor Stars to a five goal second period in handing them a 9-4 loss. Texas got goals from Morin, Mike Hedden, Mathieu Tousignant and Matt Fraser in the loss. Both goaltenders had 13 saves. Andrew Raycroft saw 19 shots, Beskorowany 16.
Coming off Friday night's loss, Texas fell again on Sunday afternoon in Hamilton to make for seven losses in their last eight games. The Bulldogs got two goals from Ryan White and Nathan Lawson made it stand up with a 39 save effort. Tyler Beskorowany picked up third star honors despite the loss and looked good from first hand accounts. Usually two goals against should be enough to win, but the Stars offense did not provide any support and fell for their 24th loss of the season.
After Tuesday's loss, GM Scott White shuffled the deck a bit on the roster. Only two players are on AHL contracts this year: Stephen Schultz and Mike Hedden. The pieces that he can move without involving Dallas are therefore pretty limited. White did what he could to shake up the roster, sending Stephen Schultz to Idaho on Wednesday. Schultz, by my account, had been doing well. He had a spot on the power play and played decently in third line minutes. The Colorado College product was more a victim of team performance than his own. Schultz has had two goals and an assist in two games for Idaho.
Other moves included releasing PTO signees Mike Berube and Brendan Connolly and calling up Jake Hauswirth from Rio Grande Valley (CHL).
The Week Ahead
The Stars play an early game on Wednesday, featuring a 9:45 AM CST start in Cleveland against the Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche). Again, this is one of those "kids games", where the local elementary schools all take a field trip to the game. Texas then returns home for a two game Friday and Saturday set against the white hot San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers).
Ray Sawada continues to be out for Texas with no timetable for a return. Hubert Labrie, who was having a great rookie season for a last pair defenseman, is also out at this time.