The Texas Stars got out to a blistering 3-0 record to start their season. They’ve since lost their last four.
And what feels like all to the San Antonio Rampage, no less.
The Stars played the rare three game series this weekend, hosting and not hosting the action Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
I don’t know just how much contempt familiarity breeds, but Saturday’s game exploded into a full on direct to video action flick, sporting 75 penalty minutes - half of which occurred in the second period.
The good news is that Jason Dickinson, Denis Gurianov, and Gavin Bayreuther - the prospects Dallas fans are watching closest - are now at or above 5 points through their first seven games.
They’re doing all they can to get Jim Nill to notice, short of sticking bananas in the tailpipe of his new car.
Friday was their closest to beating a Rampage team that now boasts some of the St. Louis Blues’ top prospects in Tage Thompson and Klim Kostin.
Dickinson got on board first thanks to a tip from a Gurianov shot.
Jason Dickinson's team-leading fifth goal last night for Texas Stars. Assist by Denis Gurianov pic.twitter.com/KB0E3LTO3P— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) October 21, 2017
Then this happened.
Also from Texas Stars game. Dickinson hit from behind by Meloche. Bodnarchuk takes exception. 47 PIMs handed out for this sequence pic.twitter.com/0RKe0iFD53— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) October 21, 2017
Dickinson would be okay - or at least probably better than Meloche after Andrew Bodnarchuk fed him a steady diet of knuckle lasers.
Friday’s game turned into a comedy of errors after awhile; something I described “in depth” in my recap (TL;DR no AHL coaches, you cannot call a timeout in overtime after an icing).
The game went to a shootout Texas would lose.
Sidenote: Gurianov has taken too many cues from Jamie Benn on how to move in the shootout, which is the only bad thing I’ll say about Gurianov over his weekend.
The teams returned to action on Saturday. Or least some of them.
Texas dominated all three games in terms of shots on goal, but Saturday was the gut punch. Landon Bow started for Mike McKenna, and the results were not pretty.
To be fair, Texas’ 6-2 loss wasn’t Bow’s fault in an epistemological sense. The third goal against was literally his teammate Brett Regner and Reid Petryk crashing into him like human carmageddon. Referee Terry Koharski didn’t review it, much to the chagrin of Derek Laxdal’s blood pressure.
Despite the off tempo, it would be Gurianov’s second two assist night.
Meanwhile, Curtis McKenzie tried to motivate the team on Saturday by slanging bombs at Kostin in a spirited tilt.
Sunday was a weirder contest for all the wrong reasons. Even with San Antonio tallying just three shots in the second period (and never hitting double digits in any period), Texas lost 3-1 with Dillon Heatherington acting as the lone goal scorer.
- Why Gurianov should be in Dallas: I can’t sugarcoat this stuff. Do I think Gurianov has been consistent, and exactly the kind of player that Matthew Barzal is now? No. He still has playmaking issues, and doesn’t keep his head up enough to scout the positioning of his teammates. However, what he lacks in spatial awareness he makes up for in sheer force of will. He’s getting better at using screens to shoot, and he’s as gifted as ever when it comes to turning defenders inside out with his speed. Plus, he’s legitimately dangerous on the PK. Hyperbole or not, but in the small samples of his shorthanded time, I get the impression that the opposing power play sometimes plays around him, keeping the passing lanes through the wedge rather than along the boards.
- Why Dickinson should be in Dallas: this goes without saying. Not only does he have the five goals, but he could easily have more. In all three games this weekend, he’s managed to find himself open on multiple occasions (once missing a wide open net). He looks a lot like Janmark. It’s not a coincidence both started at center and converted to wing (Dickinson still takes a lot of faceoffs, it should be noted). Both have a good sense of geography, and how to cover more than just the immediate ice they occupy.
- Why the above two points are true: neither one has had the luxury of playing with Jason Spezza, but that hasn’t stopped them from combining for 11 points.
- Fourth line center Max French (recently recalled from Idaho) hasn’t played a lot of minutes, but he’s a delight to watch. I don’t know what to expect, but his puck handling ability is first rate. Combine that with his speed, and there are times when you wonder if he shouldn’t move up a line.
- Mike McKenna is basically hobo Bishop. He has a real flare for the theatrical and always feels like a calming influence to the team’s defenders. As for Bow, there’s nothing to assess at this point. I’m still just trying to figure out how that goal - where the refs let a quinceanera’s worth of humanity run him over - was legal. Paging Dr. Erin.
- The team returns to action Friday at 7pm against San Diego.
(Projected) Line Up
Jason Dickinson - Travis Morin - Mark McNeill
Curtis McKenzie - Roope Hintz - Denis Gurianov
Cole Ully - Justin Dowling - Brian Flynn
Sheldon Dries - Max French - Colin Markison
Andrew Bodnarchuk - Niklas Hansson
Dillon Heatherington - Brett Regner
Gavin Bayreuther - Matt Mangene