Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Who can stop the Texas Stars?

Who says that expansion teams struggle in the first couple years as a team? Don't see that to the Texas Stars as the Stars have been among the best in the AHL through the first 20 games of the season as the Stars have been on an 11 point game streak where they haven't had a regulation loss since October 23 when the Lake Monsters beat them 4-0.

Some of the leaders include their goaltender duo of Matt Climie and Brent Krahn who split time down the middle through 18 games so far this season. Both goalies have had 9 starts so far this season with Climie having a strong 1.85 GAA with a 4-3-2 record. In addition to the record, he had an emergency call up when Marty Turco went ill with the flu earlier in the month.

Even though he didn't play very much, it was proven to the Stars org. that the Dallas Stars have a strong goaltender duo in net that could be in the NHL full time very soon. However for Climie, some recent problems in net as the Texas goalie gave up 4 in a 4-3 OTL over the Chicago Wolves and giving up 5 in a 5-4 OTL against the Peoria Rivermen back on November 11.

Brent Krahn is challenging the Climie, in his 9 starts, he has an even better 1.23 GAA and a .964 SV% which leads the league in both stats and having a strong 8-1-0 record and having shutouts recently against the San Antonio Rampage and Rockford Icehogs.

When the season started, the coaching staff planned to rotate the goalies to eventually find who would be the starter long term this season. However, the Texas Stars have 2 great goalies that are among the the best at this level and are more then capable of being in the NHL soon.

Goal tending has been the best part of the Texas Stars game. But the team defense in front of the net minders has been solid by giving up just 31 goals as a team which is the best in the Western Conference and is tied for the team lead with the Manchester Monarchs.

Ivan Vishnevsky has been wanting to prove to the Texas Stars that he can be a leading defensemen in the AHL and impress the Dallas Stars for a possible call up later in the season if they is an injury or suspension problem. However, he only has 9 points and has a -2 in the plus/minus column. With the powerful Offensive options limited right now, the team defense which is very aggressive will need to continue to play hard to keep the streak going.

One of the few bright spots on offense is Greg Rallo has been leading with 9 goals which includes 2 goals in a very contested and a very strong performance in a 5-4 OTL over the to the Peoria Rivermen.

For the Texas Stars, it's a score by committee to a certain extent this season, but a majority of the forwards have been more then capable to score on any given night. If even one of the players on the forward position can become a great goal scorer, that will make the team ever more dangerous as the season goes forward.

With a strong goaltender and a great team defense, the Texas Stars are quickly becoming a team to beat in the Western Conference with a 9 point lead over the Peoria Rivermen in the West Division. and could compete with teams like the Rochester Americans and the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Western Conference. Out East, the Manchester Monarchs and Lowell Devils are currently fighting it out for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and are among the best in the Eastern Conference right now and could be contenders for the Eastern Conference Title.

For most first year teams, making the playoffs would be a huge achievement. But for these Stars, they are looking to possibly compete for home ice in the Western Conference and possibly the entire American Hockey League come spring time.

It's a shame that the media in the Austin Area haven't covered this team as much as I hoped it would. However, the fans have been making the Cedar Park Center a great home ice advantage to make the arena loud. If this success continues throughout the season, the media will have no choice but to pay attention as the season comes along.

Upcoming Texas Stars Schedule: The Texas Stars are currently on a 5 game road trip which includes the 1st of 2 against the Rockford Icehogs on November 18 and 21 with a game against the Grand Rapids Griffins in between on November 20. Before returning home, a game in Chicago against the Chicago Wolves will await on November 22.

When they return to Austin, a pair of games against the Milwaukee Admirals during Thanksgiving week on November 25 and 27.

Next 10 games

11/18: @ Rockford Icehogs 7:05 PM

11/20: @ Grand Rapids Griffins 6:00 PM

11/21: @ Rockford Icehogs 7:05 PM

11/22: @ Chicago Wolves 3:00 PM

11/25: VS. Milwaukee Admirals 7:30 PM

11/27: VS. Milwaukee Admirals 7:30 PM

12/4: @ Milwaukee Admirals 7:00 PM

12/5: @ Chicago Wolves 7:00 PM

12/6: @ San Antonio Rampage 5:00 PM

12/9: VS. Peoria Rivermen 7:30 PM

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