The Texas Stars have been affected by Dallas’s injury problem. That’s supposed to be the case when the NHL team goes through injuries - the AHL team loses their best players, and relies on their depth players more and more.
Dallas has recalled Gavin Bayreuther, Landon Bow, Joel Hanley, Roope Hintz, Taylor Fedun, and Ben Gleason in recent weeks. Gleason got two out of three games in San Antonio before heading back up. That leaves just Dillon Heatherington, and John Nyberg as constants in Texas’s defense when healthy, along with a collection of younger defensemen and players up from the ECHL.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Texas has gone 2-3 over their past five games. After allowing just 36 shots in the first two games of this stretch, they’ve allowed 75 in their last three. That’s the difference between Bayreuther, Gleason, and Fedun and their replacements.
The offense certainly hasn’t slowed down, even though Texas has lost one of it’s most significant contributors in Hintz. During these last five games, the team has gotten more from depth players as players like Travis Morin (one goal, two secondary assists in five games) have slowed down and lines have been split up (while the Justin Dowling, Erik Condra, Morin line could potentially stay together, Michael Mersch is injured, Hintz is in Dallas, and Denis Gurianov is the lone member standing of what should be the other top-six line).
The biggest obstacle between Texas and a better record through this stretch could be the amount of confidence in the goaltending. With Bow in Dallas, Philippe Desrosiers and Colton Point have taken the net against the San Antonio Rampage, in what should be winnable games. After all, before this three-game weekend, the Texas Stars were 2-0 against San Antonio this season and a 12-3 goal lead. Yet Texas went 1-2 against the Rampage in their three-game span.
Desrosiers faced 50 shots and made 43 saves, a .860 save percentage. That’s not quite good enough to help the team win games, and Texas lost both of his starts. Point took the net in game three, made 21 of 24 stops, and the Stars won 7-3. That should be a major point in Point’s favor moving forward.
Each of the three losses the Stars sustained in this five-game span was close, as well. They lost 5-4 to Manitoba with Bow in net and 4-3 and 4-1 with Desrosiers there. Maybe that 4-1 game isn’t as close as would be liked, but Texas played well and outshot the Rampage 28-24. One of the goals was also an empty-netter, meaning in reality the game was 3-1.
That’s where a struggling offense comes in. While there were very few people who didn’t contribute with any amount of ice time (Bayreuther didn’t add anything in his one game, and Nyberg played all five without putting up a point), what the Stars got was a mixed bag.
13 players scored a goal in this five-game span, but only six scored multiple. Of those six, one was Hintz, one was Adam Mascherin, who did most of his production in one game (an excellent four-point performance in the third game of the San Antonio weekend where he scored a hat trick) and one was Condra, who also added his two goals in one game (a loss).
The Stars didn’t get a lot from their stars over the past two weeks, but again, with most of the defensive anchors making the trip upstate and Mersch hurt, there weren’t that many stars in the first place. Justin Dowling added five points, Joel L’Esperance added five points, Condra added six, and Gurianov added five. Still, most of those points came from a small amount of goals split between them.
It just seems like Texas was waiting for a star to emerge out of this quagmire and nobody, with the exception of an improved Mascherin (we’ll have to wait and see on that), did. If the situation remains the same, and it’s looking like it might for a little while, hopefully somebody will step into the fold in these next games.