Just two games on the slate this week, but the Stars made the most of games that they could not lose. The Iowa Wild have just had a season to forget. They are sub-.400 on the season and they've already fired their coach once. In short, Texas absolutely had to have four points in those two games if they wanted to have a chance at calling themselves a playoff threat.
With Maxime Fortunus, Travis Morin, Brett Ritchie and Curtis McKenzie all missing for one or both games on the weekend, Texas needed other players to step up to fill the void. Jussi Rynnas was one of the big impact players on the weekend, stopping 61 of 62. He earned player of the week honors for the feat, helping Texas to three total wins last week, including the victory over San Antonio last Tuesday.
Greg Rallo, an AHL contracted veteran winger, has also been having a good month. Those of you with elephant-like memories will recall that Rallo was on the Stars' roster in their inaugural season. He played two season with Texas and then went to Florida, mostly playing with the AHL's San Antonio Rampage. He also got a chance to play 11 NHL games, a chance that Dallas would not have been able to give him. Now that he has had that opportunity, he came back to the Stars on an AHL contract for this season.
Rallo is currently riding a five game goal streak and is on pace to score at least 20, if not 25 goals this year. His AHL best is 26, set in Texas in 2010-11. If his streak continues, that's an easy mark as the Stars' offense heats up.
Texas jumped into the playoff race with two feet this week. They are now in 7th place by points percentage. That puts tonight's game with Utica as a preview of the current first round playoff matchup.
Dallas goalie Jack Campbell got his first ECHL starts of his career this past weekend, three games against the Utah Grizzlies. Idaho dropped two of the games, but according to 100 Degree Hockey contributor John Mulhern in Idaho, Campbell was not to blame. Coach Brad Ralph agreed, saying the team let Campbell down in his first start. The Steelheads led 2-0 after three and allowed two shorthanded breakaways in the final frame.
The ECHL generally has higher goalie numbers due to less defensive structure. One interesting note is that Jack Campbell's numbers in the ECHL would place him 2nd in the league in GAA (2.02)and tied for 6th in save percentage (0.919). Of course, he hasn't played enough games to qualify for that list, but it's an interesting note.
Big two points in Des Moines for the Texas Stars. Texas jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first and didn't look back. Greg Rallo had a pair of goals and Jussi Rynnas was 54 seconds away from a shutout.
Justin Dowling had the only other Texas goal.
Needing four points to get themselves into prime position in the playoff race, Texas got those points and some big-time added confidence thanks to really solid goaltending from Jussi Rynnas. Rynnas' shutout was his fourth of the year. Greg Rallo also stayed hot with a goal in five straight games now. Brendan Ranford had the other goal.
The Week Ahead
Texas will play the Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks) tonight in New York. The weekend will bring back-to-back games against Rochester (Buffalo Sabres) and Toronto (Toronto Maple Leafs). Tuesday will end the road trip against Oklahoma City (Edmonton Oilers).
Maxime Fortunus missed the week's games with an upper body injury. He was expected to play this past weekend, but he did not. In his absence, Travis Morin and Derek Meech wore the captain's "C" in the two games.
Scott Glennie is still out.