Stars: Scouting the Enemy

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

The last time the Texas Stars came to Milwaukee there was supposed to be a Foreigner concert. Remember? Me too. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

Remember how the Admirals were on a six-game losing streak? Me too, and there is some good news. That streak is dead and, in its place, is another one. The Admirals are now on a three game point streak. Hey, it’s a start right?

The Admirals enter tonight’s game with a record of 33-25-7-5 (78 points). With the Chicago Wolves besting the Hamilton Bulldogs last night by the final score of 4-2 the Admirals have fallen behind the Amtrak Rivals in both divisional and conference standings.

It is getting to the point now where you might want to start looking at teams such as the Bulldogs, Toronto Marlies, Lake Erie Monsters, and Adirondack Flames to lose with the Admirals earning either wins or points. The gap between the Admirals in eighth in the Western Conference and ninth place might end up being all the difference this season. Still, goes without saying (so I’m going to say it). If the Admirals can string together wins they shouldn’t have to worry so much about what other teams are doing.

~The Texas! The Finger Thing Means The Texas~

The Texas Stars will enter tonight’s game with a record of 33-21-13-1 (80 points). They are currently third in the West Division and sit sixth in the Western Conference standings.

In their last ten games they have sported a 7-3-0-0 (14 points). That includes three regulation wins over the Admirals. Outside of that, the Midwest Division has done well against them in that span with the Rockford IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins winning three games.

~The Road So Far~

The Admirals have lost to the Stars in all three meetings so far this season and done so in regulation. The first meeting was a 4-3 defeat in Texas when the mistake bug started to turn its ugly little head. That was followed up by a 6-2 thrashing on the road. And then, in Milwaukee almost two weeks ago, the Stars held on late for a 4-3 win.

I want to say that the mistakes that had cropped up during that lengthy road trip have been either eliminated or at least minimized lately. The Admirals have been playing tighter defensively and the real question mark of late has been if the offense can catch a break against hot goaltending.

If Wednesday’s result provided a lift past simply winning a game it is that the Ads pulled off three goals late in a game against Calvin Pickard who was SportsCenter number one play good in that game. There should be reason to believe confidence should be back in all facets of the Admirals play at the moment.

And then you look back at what the Admirals did against the Stars and wonder if this could be a long night. The Admirals have gone 0/13 on the power-play against the Stars this season. Flip side of that is the Stars going 5/11 on their power-play against the Admirals. Emotions need to be held in check tonight. The Admirals can’t allow special teams to be the difference maker in this game.

One thing that the season head-to-head does say that could be big for the Admirals is their ability to play with speed and get pucks to the net. There were some bad things done against the Stars in those three games. No question. But, the Admirals managed to outshoot the Stars 111-70. That needs to continue and the finishing needs to sharpen up.

~Ol’ Reliable~

Travis Morin continues to be the leading man for the Stars in scoring. He has produced 54 points (19 goals, 35 assists) in 57 games this season. It seemed like when the Admirals last met he was on a hot run where he scored the entirety of his 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in the month of March in a six game span. It wasn’t until last night’s game when he seemed to wake back up again by scoring a goal and hammering in five shots on goal to boot.

~Young Guns on Defense~

The Stars have a pair of fantastic young defensemen in their lineup at the moment: Julius Honka and Jamie Oleksiak.

Honka was selected by the Dallas Stars just a few spots behind Kevin Fiala in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft. The 19-year old Finn has done incredibly well in the AHL this season by scoring 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) in 60 games.

Did I mention Fiala? I’m sure Oleksiak remembers that name. Fiala put his name in the hat for “Goal of the Season” the last time the Admirals and Stars met. I’m going to assume he remembers that when #12 is charging at him one-on-one he’ll need to avoid making the highlight reel again.

Another Finnish defenseman that would have been fun getting a glimpse of again will not be with the Stars for this game. 20-year old Esa Lindell was assigned to Team Finland for the IIHF World Championships.

Expectations for tonight’s game? Can the Admirals start stringing together wins? With the recent games against the Stars in mind how will this game play out?

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