Stars welcome Marlies, hope to hand them first loss

By Jared Clinton (@JPDClinton)

If everything really is bigger in Texas, a Marlies win tonight — which would be their eighth straight — would certainly prove huge for the Maple Leafs farm team’s chances of advancing to the Calder Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.

The problem for the Marlies, however, lies in the trouble they’ve had with their opponent, the Texas Stars. In their last game at the Cedar Park Center, the Marlies were shutout by the Stars, 6-0, in one of their worst losses of the season.

Christopher Nilstorp, who got the start and the shutout in that contest, will be backstopping the Stars again, and he has seemingly had the Marlies number all season. Posting a 1.31 GAA and .949SV% against the Marlies in the regular season, Nilstorp only allowed four goals to the Baby Buds, and helped his team take three of a possible six points from Toronto in the three games he started.

The Stars’ netminder is going to have to look to slow down a Marlies powerplay that is on a torrid pace, moving at a 25% clip these playoffs, and hope to put the brakes on the streaking Peter Holland and Jerry D’Amigo.

A mainstay on the Marlies roster over the last three seasons, D’Amigo’s play has been inspired during these Calder Cup playoffs. The 23-year-old Binghamton native has registered a point in each game this post-season, contributing four goals and eight assists, and powering the Marlies to their unbeaten streak.

Holland, who was brought into Toronto from the Anaheim Ducks’ early in 2013-14, was a huge part of the Marlies sweep of the Chicago Wolves in the second round. In the sweep, Holland registered at least a point in each contest, racking up four goals and two assists over that span.

The Stars, who battled their way out of the first round with two consecutive overtime wins over the Oklahoma City Barons, make their way to the Western Conference Final after an impressive 7-1 game six defeat of the defending Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids Griffins.

Regular season scoring champion Travis Morin has been impressive for the Stars, and will be called upon to make an impact if the Stars are to move on to their second Calder Cup Final.

It appears that this series could simply come down to a battle of which team can pot three in a night. Over the course of the playoffs, Texas has allowed two goals in seven of their nine games, with Toronto allowing two-or-more in five of seven.

Tonight’s contest kicks off at 8:30 ET (7:30 CT) at the Cedar Park Center.

AHL Today: Barons snap two-game skid, beat Marlies

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • BINGHAMTON at MANCHESTER: When the Senators head in to Manchester to play the Monarchs, they’re looking to pull themselves even closer to the top of the Eastern Conference. After a convincing 6-3 win over the Worcester Sharks their last time out, the Senators are hoping to continue their winning ways. The last time the two teams faced off this season, which came earlier this month, the Sens walked away with a 5-4 OT win, and Bingo’s Mike Hoffman lead all scorers with a goal and two assists.
  • TORONTO at SAN ANTONIO: In their past two games, the Rampage have knocked off the top two seeds in the West. Friday night, with a win over the visiting Toronto Marlies, the Rampage could complete the trifecta. The Marlies, leading the Western Conference’s North Division and sitting third in the conference, roll in to San Antonio following a travel day and ruminating on their 5-3 defeat to the Oklahoma City Barons. A late-November contest was the only match up between the two teams, and that game saw the Marlies double up the Rampage 4-2.

Last Night:

  • OKLAHOMA CITY 5, TORONTO 3: Brandon Kozun notched his first two points as a Marlie, both helpers, but they weren’t enough to bring the Marlies closer to the top seed in the West. After the Barons relinquished two two-goal leads — they lead 2-0, and 3-1 — Oklahoma City finally pulled away for good thanks to a Jack Combs tally with just over six minutes to go in the third. An Anton Lander empty-netter sealed the deal, as goaltender Richard Bachman and the Barons skated away with the ‘W’.

Moves:

Abbotsford Heat
Blair Jones (F) From: Calgary Flames
Trevor Gillies (F) From: Orlando Solar Bears
Adirondack Phantoms
Chris VandeVelde (F) From: Philadelphia Flyers
Charlotte Checkers
Cam Ward (G) From: Carolina Hurricanes
Aaron Palushaj (F) From: Carolina Hurricanes
Hamilton Bulldogs
Christian Thomas (F) To: Montréal Canadiens
Portland Pirates
Jesse Mychan (F) To: Colorado Eagles
Texas Stars
Pat Nagle (G) To: Idaho Steelheads
Russ Sinkewich (D) To: Toledo Walleye
Dustin Jeffrey (F) To: Dallas Stars
Syracuse Crunch
Riku Helenius (G) From: Florida Everblades
Maxime Parent (F) From: Florida Everblades
Utica Comets
Frank Corrado (D) To: Vancouver Canucks

News & Notes:

  • A nice story by Wayne Fish on longtime AHL official Scott Adams, who is calling it a career after 20 years calling games in the ‘A’. Adams, on his passion for hockey: “When I’m skating, I feel like a little kid. When I saw the little kids skating on the rink next to the Winter Classic (in Michigan), I was almost crying.’’ [The Intelligencer]
  • Sean Shapiro on Jamie Oleksiak, who could one day be a superpower on the Dallas Stars’ blueline, but for now, he’s working out of a tough time with the help from a Stanley Cup champion. [The Statesman]
  • The Hershey Bears and Adirondack Phantoms are going to be busy this weekend, playing a weekend pair that starts with a 7 p.m. EST game tonight in Glens Falls and ends with a game starting at 1 p.m. in Philadelphia on Saturday.

2011-12 AHL all-star Mueller heads to Texas

The Dallas Stars announced yesterday that they have signed former Nashville Predator and Milwaukee Admiral Chris Mueller to a one-year deal.

The contract, a two-way deal that will see Mueller make $300,000 in the AHL, gives Mueller a chance to spend time with both Dallas and their top affiliate in Texas.

After a barrage of additions up the middle, Mueller will have to make it on the wing if he’s going to shine with the big club. In 37 career NHL games, all with Nashville, the West Seneca, NY., native has scored twice and added six helpers. Mueller is only a year removed from an impressive AHL campaign, however.

In 2011-12, while with the Milwaukee Admirals, Mueller scored 32 times and added 28 assists in 73 regular season games. The year prior, also as a member of the Ads, Mueller had an outstanding playoff, scoring four goals and contributing seven assists for 11 points in just 13 games.

Only 27, Mueller will fill a veteran spot on the Texas Stars roster, and the short term on the contract could prove as fuel for the forward to take his game to another level.

Bachman lands with the Oilers

Richard Bachman, who saw action in 31 games with the Dallas Stars over the last two seasons, has been signed give the Oklahoma City Barons  some help in goal.

Bachman, who was drafted by the Stars in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, has spent his entire pro career in the Stars organization.

In Texas, Bachman has the starting role with the AHL’s Stars during the 2010-11 season, backstopping the team in 55 games and posting a 2.20 GAA and .927 SV%. The following year, Bachman got the call to backup Kari Lehtonen and make spot starts in relief of the oft injured Stars starting goaltender.

Though his NHL numbers leave something to be desired — he had a dismal 3.25 GAA and .885 SV% last season in 13 games — Bachman’s been able to show signs that he could be something more than just an AHL starter. In Texas, over four seasons, Bachman has had a steady GAA that often floats around 2.50 and a save percentage around .910. At only 25, Bachman still has room to develop, and will get that change in OKC.