The AHL playoff race is slowly becoming clearer and one thing that has become clear now is that the Texas Stars (25-28-2-2, 54 pts, #15 Western Conference) will probably be on the outside looking in come mid-April. During an intermission interview, Coach Pyle intoned as much, "Our record is what it is, and we deserve what we got." He expanded to talk about how finishing plays and games haunted them all year. It is tough to see this talented roster underachieve so heavily. The raw talent that started out the year hasn't been refined into the polished final product quite yet.
Aside from the Stars split of games in Abbotsford, BC, this weekend, Friday's news out of Stars camp was the "trade" of Ray Sawada for forwards Michael Forney "and" Shawn Weller. You'll notice a lot of quotes there; let me explain. Dallas recalled Sawada and reassigned him to the Atlantic Division leading St. John's IceCaps (Winnipeg Jets). Meanwhile, Winnipeg recalled and reassigned Forney to Texas. In an "unrelated" transaction, Texas received Shawn Weller for future considerations.In the big picture, Texas got a two for one here. Sawada was preparing to play in Friday night's game after playing just one game since December 16th due to injury. With this move, Sawada (still a Dallas contracted player) gets a chance at some meaningful hockey in the playoffs.
The biggest news though was the AHL announcement of Clear Day rosters today, a list of which 22 players can play in the remainder of the season and the playoffs. Ryan Garbutt was left off this list while Tomas Vincour was on it, meaning that Garbutt cannot be assigned to the AHL and is staying in Dallas for the rest of the season. More on the full roster inside.
More on this week's games and full breakdown of Clear Day inside...
Texas and the Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) looked to be aiming for an old fashioned track meet as three power play goals were scored in the first eight minutes of the game. Krys Kolanos and Ben Walter tallied for the Heat and Texas answered with Angelo Esposito's fifth of the year. That would be all the offense though as the rest of the game featured more sparring than scoring. Brenden Dillon had two fights among fourteen total penalty minutes. Eric Godard also squared off with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond. Dillon assisted on the Stars' only goal and earned third star honors for his efforts.
The Stars won their first road game since January 18th thanks to a three goal third period Sunday afternoon. Colton Sceviour picked up the game winner on the power play in the third period. Luke Gazdic potted two in the third as well and Francis Wathier tipped one home in the second to open the scoring. Tyler Beskorowany played a brilliant game, stopping 30 of 31 shots against and being named #1 star of the night.
Clear Day Roster Announced
The AHL announced Clear Day rosters today, a list of which 22 players can play in the remainder of the season and the playoffs. The big addition is Drew Schiestel, a defenseman from Rochester, who was assigned by Buffalo to Texas. The third year man was selected as a member of the Eastern Conference AHL All-Star Team for the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic, but he sufferred a knee injury since then. He was apparently not getting many minutes in Rochester and looks to be an upgrade over Brodie. He has scored 2-10-12 in 43 games with a minus-3 rating.
Other notables include Stephen Schultz and Hubert Labrie being left off the roster, which means the Stars do not expect them to recover from their injuries in time for the end of the season.
Tyler Beskorowany (G), Andrew Raycroft (G), Jordie Benn, Jace Coyle, Brenden Dillon, Angelo Esposito, Michael Forney, Maxime Fortunus (inj.), Matt Fraser, Luke Gazdic, Scott Glennie, Eric Godard, Mike Hedden, Brad Lukowich, Travis Morin, Colton Sceviour, Drew Schiestel, Dan Spang, Mathieu Tousignant, Tomas Vincour (recalled), Francis Wathier, Shawn Weller.
The Week Ahead
Texas comes home for a seven game homestand starting Wednesday against the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings). The stand continues with two weekend games against the San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers) on Friday and Saturday.
Dan Spang returned to the lineup this weekend, and Ray Sawada was ready to go before being traded. That still leaves Hubert Labrie, Maxime Fortunus and Stephen Schultz all sidelined. From the Clear Day roster, it looks like fans should not expect Labrie or Schultz to return this year.