It was a mixed week for the Texas Stars (6-4-2-0, 14 pts, #6 Western Conference), who finished off their longest road trip of the season with just three points in five games. Amid the horror that was the trip, Texas failed to muster more than two goals in four of the five games and ended the roadie with both of their Dallas-contracted goaltenders on the injured list.
Goalie injuries and signings
As discussed last week, Jack Campbell continues to be out of the lineup with a knee injury. He went home from the road trip before the Stars had even played a single game and ceded the net to Cristopher Nilstorp. The Swede dropped the first three games of the trip and then became injured himself. He was originally called 'unavailable' but later was updated to a 'lower body injury'.
As a result, Texas signed emergency amateur tryout goalie Derek Hender from the local amateur league in Des Moines. Hender is 46 years old and older, in fact, than Texas Stars' general manager Scott White. He did not play in the contest, backing up Josh Robinson in a 4-2 loss.
Instead of calling up Pat Nagle from the Idaho Steelheads, White instead opted to sign Allen York to a professional tryout. York played 11 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets two years ago. This year, he is plying his trade in Evansville, Ind., with the IceMen of the ECHL. York came in on Saturday night as the starter and shutout the Iowa Wild (Minnesota Wild) with a 26 save effort.
And now the Stars have the tandem of Robinson and York with Nilstorp seeming far away from being ready and Campbell perhaps being closer. Is this a rallying point for the team or do they live and die by their goaltending? Projected to be a big strength in the preseason, the Stars are certainly in a pickle.
The other problem would be what happens if Kari Lehtonen or Dan Ellis are injured. Dallas has no healthy contracted players in the professional ranks right now. It's not exactly certain what would happen in that case, but it's certainly a situation that Jim Nill does not want to have to worry about.
Games in hand
The Stars' games played finally started to catch up with them this week. Texas was at the top of the conference thanks to sheer number of games played. As the league caught up with Texas's idle schedule, the Stars have dipped to 6th by points and 7th by points percentage. The next week could be a make or break inflection point of the schedule.
Travis Morin's fantastic play has continued to garner recognition across the league as Morin was named the CCM/AHL Player of the Month for October.
Morin had 19 points (8 goals, 11 assists) in October, which led the league, and had a 17 game point streak snapped on Saturday. He also has a plus-10 rating and five multi-point games on the season.
Texas got an early start for the third time on their Midwest trip but faltered late to hand the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) the win in overtime. After an early two goals, the Stars appeared to have things handled with that lead maintained into the third period. However, two third-period goals from Milwaukee took the game to extra time. A goal off the rush by Mark Van Guilder ended the Stars' night in defeat.
Cristopher Nilstorp had 22 saves on 25 shots. The single point was the first of the Stars' road trip. Colton Sceviour and Brett Ritchie had the Stars' goals.
Texas had given up early two-goals leads in their past three games coming into this game. That was not a problem Friday in Iowa. Playing their first game in Des Moines, the Stars fell 4-2 after spotting the Wild a 3-0 lead by the early second period. The first-ranked penalty kill record Texas carried into the game was tarnished as the Wild racked up three power play goals on seven chances.
Josh Robinson got his second AHL start and allowed four goals on a light shot load of just nineteen against. Texas led on shots throughout the game, ending with 34. Brendan Ranford and Chris Mueller had the Texas goals.
Having lost all four prior games on the road trip, Texas found its offense and defense in the same game to put up a 5-0 win against the Iowa Wild on Saturday in Des Moines. Allen York, signed earlier in the day, got his first start and stopped all shots he faced in the game. It was the second time a first-time Stars' netminder collected a shutout in his first start.
The Texas power play got going again for the club as the Stars scored two on the man advantage, including a 5-on-3 tally. Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper did not help his team in that regard, taking three minor penalties as his frustration mounted throughout the game.
Matej Stransky, Chris Mueller, Mike Hedden, Jamie Oleksiak and Colton Sceviour put up goals for Texas.
The Week Ahead
The Stars take several days off before picking things up again for the weekend. The Stars will finish their season series with the Admirals with two games, one on Friday and one on Saturday.
Campbell and Nilstorp are the big injuries for Texas right now. Scott Glennie is still out recovering from his preseason injury but could play this weekend.