Last year’s season ended with the Texas Stars topping the Ads 3-1 in the opening round of the Playoffs. As far as the regular season went the Stars took two of two from the Ads. With not too much shaken up from the rosters it’s clear to expect a toughy for the Ads at home come Saturday night.
The player the Ads will need to slow down is current AHL Player of the Week Travis Morin. Just look at what he has produced already this season: 8 goals and 9 assists… in 7 games. He is a mere 4 goals shy from his entire 2012-13 production. Morin has played a major cog to the Stars hot 5-1-1-0 start to the season that sees them atop the Western Conference (with those diabolical IceHogs). To beat the Stars is to slow down Morin and a hot Texas offense that has scored the most goals in the AHL to start the season.
It’s one thing to have this type of explosive offense. It’s another thing to pair it with great goaltending. That’s just who the Stars are and they feature a pair of quality goalies in net.
Captain ‘Merica Jack Campbell made a name for himself with his outstanding effort in net as Team USA won the 2010 IIHF World U20 Championship. The 21 year-old Michigan native played his first full professional season with the Stars last year. He went 19-13-3-3 in net with a 2.65 GAA and a .905 SV%. This year he has started twice and won both games with a sharp .956 SV%. Overall, still a work in progress for the Stars… but easily the future choice between the pipes for Dallas in the NHL.
While Campbell was the name in camp last year it was Cristopher Nilstorp who shouldered the load in last year’s playoff run. It was his first pro tenure State-side and he split the load with Campbell: 19-13-3-3, 2.38 GAA, and a .907 SV%. He’s played more games in net to start this season, but hasn’t quite provided as sparkling of a production as the young-gun Campbell. My expectation would be that Campbell gets the start against the Ads Saturday night. If he doesn’t though? The Stars have a solid alternative.
Oh yeah. Then there is this Chris Mueller character to talk about. The former Admiral returns to face his ye olde team for the first time after playing 262 games for Milwaukee. He scored 87 goals, 86 assists, and appeared in 25 playoff games for the Ads. Yet, after a decent stint with the Nashville Predators last season (18 games, 2 goals, 3 assists), the long-time member of the Ads headed off to Texas for an opportunity with the Stars. He has 3 goals and 5 assists to start this season off. He’s just one more part of a stellar offense the Stars feature. It’ll be fun to see the reception he receives as well as the on-ice interactions with his former teammates.
The last time the Ads suited up was without Patrick Cehlin, Kevin Henderson, and Joonas Jarvinen. No real time table was established for the players injuries but, in talking with Dean Evason last game, it sounds unlikely that Jarvinen will be in this contest. As for Cehlin and Henderson? We’ll probably get a better idea as to their fitness come game time. With an offensive explosion on the cards… the Ads sure could use them.
With Hellberg enjoying life up in Nashville for the first time it should be a tremendous opportunity for Marek Mazanec. He had a solid camp and a great first outing in a road victory against Grand Rapids. The team feels very comfortable with the young Czech in the net. It’ll be a great game for him to show everyone what he is capable of.
Thoughts on the return of Chris Mueller? Will Mazanec hold up while Hellberg is in Nashville? Who steps up if Cehlin and Henderson remain out of the lineup?