Due to some outside factors the mailbag was delayed for a week.
Keep that in mind when reading some of the questions. I’ve modified some answers to make up for developing news in the past seven days.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s see what we’ve got for this week:
@seanshapiro Who will Patrik Nemeth be partnered with and how much of an impact do you expect him to have in the week or two he's w/ Texas?
— DrewL (@adlgator86) February 18, 2015
He’s been partnered with Derek Meech in his three AHL games so far and he’s played well.
He hasn’t looked like the Patrik Nemeth from 2014 NHL and AHL playoffs, yet. But he’s getting closer and started racking up heavy minutes in Texas’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Barons on Tuesday.
In that game Nemeth and Meech were the first defensive pairing. Nemeth was also part of the first penalty kill unit and he skated crucial minutes in overtime.
He’s seemingly moved from keeping it simple to diversifying his game, particular in the neutral and offensive zones. That should continue this weekend against the Rockford IceHogs and he could be NHL-bound on Sunday.
I think it’s a combination of both. The younger players have bought into Derek Laxdal’s system, while the older players have found a way to make it fit with the Texas Stars old identity.
Texas has become a more physical team in the past month and that’s paid off. The Stars are wearing teams down and it’s led to added secondary scoring.
Special teams have also clicked. The team has been very good on the penalty kill and the power play has been converting at crucial times.
I think the prior response answers some of these questions, but another key is team chemistry.
With the NHL trade deadline, late-season additions in the forms of ATOs, and seemingly constant injuries in Dallas and Texas, March will be crucial to the Stars playoff hopes. How the team meshes and defines itself over the next month could be the key to a lengthy playoff run.
Travis Morin is currently with Texas, so let’s take a look Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie.
Both should spend extended time in Dallas with the injuries in Dallas. If Dallas becomes a major seller at the trade deadline, completely possible, McKenzie and Ritchie might want to look at full-time living accommodations in Dallas.
Things aren’t going to change too much for defensemen, but at forward Jesse Root and Eric Faille should get more playing time with Ritchie and McKenzie in Dallas.
Faille has been playing particularly well the past couple games. He’s scored his first two AHL goals and he’s shown off some flashy moves in the process.
Injuries also mean that Matt Mangene will see extended time a forward, a role the defenseman has embraced since signing a standard AHL contract with the team.
The Texas Stars locker room is going to get pretty crowded in a month.
That’s the nature of the AHL. Once CHL and NCAA seasons end, a large wave of players typically sign ATOs (amateur tryout contracts) with their NHL affiliate’s AHL club.
For Texas, I’d imagine we’ll see the likes of Devin Shore, Ludwig Bystrom, and Cole Ully amongst the first wave of players.
As those players arrive they’ll likely get a handful of games — with Willie Desjardins it was usually three — to prove they can play at the AHL and jump into the lineup. If they can, like Radek Faksa last year, they could become key contributors for the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Added players will also help the Idaho Steelheads push for an ECHL championship, who should get stronger with the trickle-down effect.
Yes, I kind of dodged this question. But I’ll have a better idea about next season after seeing some of the late-season additions in person.
Nothing really to note from the on-ice or in-game experience.
However, I have heard season ticket holders have had better communication with the ownership group.