Texas Stars Mail Bag: Have the Stars lost their heart? Why no numbers above 41?

Let’s start this mailbag with a very important question:

It’s more of a mail vault, and it has fantastic security.

I actually dive into the mailbag each morning for a swim.

If you have questions about the team, a certain player, or anything else that comes to mind send them my way. I’ll be fielding questions via Twitter, the Wrong Side of the Red Line Facebook page, and via email at sean.c.shapiro@gmail.com.

Let’s see what we’ve got (hockey-wise) for this week:

Seems like perfect timing for this question after Texas laid an ostrich-sized egg in a 6-5 loss to the Rochester Americans last night, finishing a crucial homestand with just one of a potential six points.

I’m not sure if it’s heart, but something is certainly missing that the team tapped into last spring. During the Calder Cup season Texas was very good on the road, made decisive plays in one-goal games, and won in overtime.

This season Texas is 6-9-4-0 on the road, 5-4-9-0 in one goal games and has lost an AHL-worst nine games in overtime.

Texas has also become, seemingly, complacent with the lead. Last season Texas would finish teams off and if was always a threat to comeback if it trailed. This season any lead, even a 4-1 advantage last night, has been far from safe.

Some of it also falls on the goaltending.

Of goalies who have played at least 720 minutes, Jussi Rynnas is 38th in the league with a .905 save percentage. Jack Campbell is 46th with a .895.

While the entire team has struggled, Texas hasn’t gotten the big save it needed from Rynnas or Campbell in key situations.

I asked assistant equipment manager Jorgie Lopez about this last week and he had a pretty simple answer: no one’s ever asked for a number higher than 41.

Before the season the team orders a set of jerseys using number requests from players who are expected to play, or at least spend some time, in the AHL. Last season Cristopher Nilstorp requested 41, while Jussi Rynnas asked for 40 this season.

That’s created an unofficial ceiling on numbers for players on PTOs or conditioning stints, who have a choice of the unclaimed numbers between 1 and 40 available.

Looking at original timetables, Patrick Eaves is the closest to returning. Patrik Nemeth could be on target for March, while Valeri Nichuskin could be eyeing a similar return.

Once they return Dallas will have an interesting decision to make.

At forward I think Brett Ritchie is assigned to Texas. Ritchie has been playing well and has earned a full-time NHL job next year, but I think his waiver-exempt status makes him a likely candidate to be sent down.

(Ask me this question again in a couple weeks. It could be a different answer if Ritchie continues to play like he has.)

Defensively I think Texas would either assign Jamie Oleksiak, who is wavier exempt, to Texas or put David Schlemko on waivers once Nemeth is healthy.

I’m not sure about Eaves, but I would expect Nemeth and Nichuskin to both make conditioning stints with Texas before returning to the NHL roster.

do you think the AHL should get rid of the OT dryscrape and just play like the old format? with a 1 minute break. like the NHL.
Joseph via email.

I would love to see the AHL get rid of the dryscrape. Right now it adds about six or seven minutes of downtime and sucks the energy out of the building.

The problem is the AHL wants better ice conditions for seven minutes of overtime, especially the highly-regarded 3-on-3 experiment.

In the NHL the dryscrape was eliminated since NHL teams have large enough ice crews repare the ice with shovels in a relatively quick manner. That’s not the norm across the AHL, where some teams have larger ice crews than others.

If the AHL was to eliminate the dryscrape it would have to mandate ice crews and what they’re capable of.

Hopefully that’s in the future, but I’m not holding my breath.

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