The Milwaukee Admirals are back on the road again. This road trip will last four games and begins this weekend against the Texas Stars. Once they wrap up Friday-Saturday their sights will turn to a pit stop at home before venturing to Grand Rapids on Wednesday and then Chicago on Thursday. In other words: the marathon continues!
~Q&A with Stephen Meserve~
One of my favorite things about facing the Texas Stars is that they are always well represented by Stephen Meserve of 100 Degree Hockey. To help preview this weekends games against the Stars I reached out to him to get a look inside how they’ve been doing to start the 2016-17 season.
Admirals Roundtable: The Texas Stars are 13-8-1-1 (28 points, 0.609 points percentage) coming into this first meeting of the season against the Milwaukee Admirals. What’s the story been out of the gate?
Stephen Meserve: Texas stumbled out of the gate a bit with all the injuries in Dallas. Some of the players that they expected to see, like Adam Cracknell and Devin Shore, haven’t played a single game in the AHL this year. Others have been called up that weren’t expected, like Justin Dowling and Gemel Smith on forward and Julius Honka on defense. The lineup is just getting back to stable for the time being and that is having a positive effect on the overall winning nature of the team.
AR: I see you’re up to your old trick of scoring a lot and allowing a lot too. Is that on that defense or is having goaltending with less than a 0.900 save percentage more the issue?
SM: Ah, yes, a specialty. Not everyone can have stout Milwaukee D every year. The goaltending has been truly unspectacular. Three goalies have started for Texas already on the young season and only Landon Bow (in just two games of work) has truly impressed. Then again, Maxime Lagacé looked impressive in his first two games of the season. An ongoing struggle in the Dallas organization has been development of a backup goaltender. The Stars haven’t done that well since Mike Smith. Top prospect Jack Campbell left via trade this summer but was unlikely to be re-signed even if he hadn’t been traded. The defense is certainly not as stout as it has been in some prior years, but the goaltending is letting in soft ones and really putting the forwards behind the eight ball early. A common storyline early in the season was falling behind by 2 or 3 and then having to claw back to even by over-utilizing key players, leaving them tired for the 3rd period. Then the team, tired from the comeback, would lose in the 3rd. It was a really demoralizing time for the squad.
AR: 21 points (9 goals, 12 assists) in 23 games. Travis Morin doesn’t age does he?
SM: Morin is an ageless wonder. He’s never been known for his skating, but who cares with a shot like that? He’s on a more veteran line with Brendan Ranford and Matej Stransky and of course on the PP and PK as well. He’s the man for Texas and should be for several more years the way he’s going. He wants to retire a Texas Star and I would say he’s earned that right.
AR: Who are some of the new faces on the roster this season?
SM: Texas returned a lot of talent from last year. By all accounts, this is a pretty veteran team. There is just one rookie on defense and he was a recent callup from Idaho. The forward to watch though is Denis Gurianov. The first round pick of Dallas in 2015, he is a Russian skater with size and speed. He’s got 4-9=13 in 23 games as a rookie. Coach Laxdal really likes what he brings and touts Gurianov’s teachability and coachability. He is going to be a dangerous tool in the Dallas arsenal in a few years with the skills he is showing in raw form right now. In the mean time, perhaps the next year or two, he’ll be in Coach Laxdal’s toolbox to torture opposing defenses.
AR: Any other fun storylines going on for this year’s Texas Stars team that we Admirals peoples should know about for the weekend set?
SM: Fun? Certainly something interesting to watch is the appearance of Landon Bow on the scene. He came in for Maxime Lagacé last week in relief and stopped 34 of 35 and earned the win. He collected a shootout win the next night and now we’ve got a question of who starts at a 50/50 draw on a nightly basis, perhaps. Oh, and he’s only on an AHL contract. It will be a good story to watch to see who the Stars start in this weekend back to back set.
Cheers as always to Stephen Meserve! You can see his work at 100 Degree Hockey and follow along with him on Twitter. He also occasionally gets things up on the AHL website, too. It’s all good stuff. Do follow along.
Expectations for this weekend’s games? After having a lengthy road trip that ended on a rough patch what do the Milwaukee Admirals need to do early on this road trip to set themselves up for later success come Grand Rapids and Chicago? How do you feel Marek Mazanec will perform in his return to the Admirals? Should Jonas Gunnarsson get rotated in this weekend?
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