In net for the Texas Stars (6-3-2, 14 pts, #3 Western Conf.), it was supposed to be Jack Campbell's coming out party. The former first rounder was left to simmer in the AHL for another year with high hopes of an outstanding season, earning 50-60 starts.
Up until this week, Campbell and Jussi Rynnas had alternated starts exclusively. After a 25 save performance on Wednesday against Toronto, Rynnas got another start on Saturday against Charlotte. He turned in a 30 save performance, a win at Charlotte.
Coach Laxdal had said that he would consider the goalie that is doing well for back-to-back start and this seems to be a clear indication of that strategy at work. Jack Campbell had Monday's game and lost despite only allowing two goals. While you should expect to win with two goals against most nights (especially with the Texas offense), he only got one goal in support.
Despite the good performance, the optics aren't great. Rynnas is 4-1-1 with a 2.75 GAA and .907 SV%. They aren't world-beater numbers, but Campbell is 2-2-1 with a 3.06 GAA and .894 SV%.
Texas has an upcoming three game set this weekend. The Stars will be working on three day's rest and there will be a decision to make as to who gets two games versus who gets just one. If Rynnas gets the two, it's not a good sign for the young Campbell. He needs to make the most of his start this weekend to force Coach Laxdal to give him more starts.
The Texas Stars were proud to grind out a win against the Toronto Marlies tonight in front of a sellout crowd in Cedar Park. The high-powered offense of Texas took a back seat to a solid defensive and goaltending effort.
"It had a bit of a playoff atmosphere, having to protect a one goal lead," said coach Derek Laxdal. "They make you earn every inch on the ice. It was a good test to see if we could grind out a hockey game."
The last time these two clubs met was in the playoffs, and while the rosters have turned over some, the character of the Marlies was the same.
"Toronto is always big and mean," said Brendan Ranford, who had two assists. "Last time we played them, it was more aggressive of a series because it was the playoffs. They are still more aggressive. They played hard and well."
Coach Laxdal's more aggressive style matched up well with the Marlies throughout the game.
"He likes finishing the body more and letting the guy know you're there," added Ranford.
Greg Rallo, Radek Faksa and Brett Ritchie scored in the contest. Scott Glennie and Brendan Ranford each had two assists.
The Stars blew up the offense in Charlotte Saturdya evening thanks to a six minute span in the first period that saw them pot five goals. With Curtis McKenzie in Dallas, rookie Derek Hulak got a chance on the first line and made the most of it. The rookie scored his first professional hat trick, including two power play goals. To add to the good feeling, Jussi Rynnas got the start and allowed just two goals on 32 shots against. That was a welcome result as the goalie got the first back-to-back start of either tender so far this season.
The Stars got three points from John Klingberg and Scott Glennie. Goals came from Hulak, Klingberg, Glennie, Justin Dowling, Faksa, and Ranford.
After the other night's offensive fireworks, the Checkers and Stars combined for just three goals in the rematch Monday in Charlotte. It was the home team Checkers ending up on the winning side of this battle, beating Jack Campbell twice. Drew MacIntyre, who started tonight's game after being pulled in Saturday's contest, only allowed a single marker in the game, stopping 27 of 28.
Travis Morin had the Stars' only goal in the game. Texas iced a very different lineup from their contest on Saturday, losing Klingberg and Gemel Smith and scratching Taylor Peters. Branden Troock, Jesse Root and William Wrenn played in their absence.
The Week Ahead
Texas will play their first of two three-in-three weekends this week. All three games will be on the road. Friday and Saturday will find the Stars in Grand Rapids to play an ailing Griffins squad (Detroit Red Wings). Sunday will take them to the red hot Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks), who currently are on an 8-game winning streak.
Gemel Smith was sucker punched in Saturday night's game, which led to a four game suspension for Carter Sandlak. Smith did not play on Monday, and there is no timeline for his return.