The Texas Stars look to achieve something only the Hershey Bears have done in the past 25 years.
Hershey retained their Calder Cup championship in 2010, the first team to win consecutive championships since the Springfield Indians at the turn of the 1990’s
It’s been a rocky start for Texas as they strive to repeat last year’s impressive season, where they pretty much swept past everyone during the regular and post season, with only the Toronto Marlies giving them cause for concern in the Conference Final.
Not really surprising when you consider four of their top five scorers are no longer with the team. Mike Hedden left to play overseas while Chris Mueller signed for the New York Rangers and has featured in the NHL. Colton Sceviour and Curtis McKenzie are currently with the Dallas Stars That leaves just Travis Morin who led the with 32 goals and 88 points in 13/14, and is currently doing the same this year with 20 points through fourteen games. Brendan Ranford and two centremen in Justin Dowling and Scott Glennie are looking to fill the gap, with all contributing ten points at the time of writing.
Rookie defenseman John Klingberg was making a huge contributing from the backend with four goals for twelve points through just ten games. He like many others though are with Dallas right now. Derek Meech is also taking up the slack as he retains a point per game pace through eleven outings Two solid defensive rocks from last season have made the step up to the NHL, in the shape of Jyrki Jokipakka (who started the year with Texas) and Jamie Oleksiak.
Texas main problem lies in keeping the puck out of their own net at this current point in time
Despite having eight registered goaltenders on the books last season, it was Christopher Nilstorp who backstopped the team for the majority of the season and then all the way to the championship. Jack Campbell had outstanding numbers through his sixteen regular season games and was expected to take up the number one role with Nilstorp back in his native Sweden. Campbell has struggled with a 2-3-2 record, a save percentage only just over .900 and averaging three goals against every start. Jussi Rynnas surprisingly signed for Dallas during the summer, after one season back home in Finland, having left the Toronto organisation. As I know from personal experience, Rynnas is a streaky goaltender but when he’s hot, he’s very good. He has a 4-1-2 record, .914sv% and allows half a goal per game less than Campbell at this juncture.
Not incredible numbers but it gives you a feel as to where the problems are. Texas may be scoring plenty again but in allowing 42 goals against, are also letting way too many past them of late.
Travelling has been an issue this year with a record of 2-6-1, and they’ve lost four straight. Compare that to last year when they recorded just ten reverses in regulation all season on the road. At home it’s been the same old Stars as they sit 4-0-1. It’s that form at Cedar Park that has kept them just about sitting in a playoff spot, 8th place in the Western Conference as I write.
The moving parts of the American Hockey League make retaining success, let alone duplicating a championship win incredibly tough. History is nothing else has taught us that. It would be amiss of me not to mention the fact that they have also lost their impressive head coach in Willie Desjardins, who made the jump up to the NHL with Vancouver this past summer.
I would never dismiss a team as offensively potent as Texas, and with some bodies coming back at some point during the season, they could well be a match once more for any team in the post-season.