AGD: Start of a Southern Swing

 

Time: 6:30pm

Location: Cedar Park Center, Texas

Broadcast: abbotsfordheat.com, teamreadio.ca

The Heat have had four days to lick their wounds after a beat down at the hands of the Toronto Marlies. Abbotsford had looked nearly immortal this year up until the Marlies humbled them 5-0 last Sunday afternoon, but today they’ll look to get back to their winning ways. 

Aside from Ben Street, a lot of he Heat’s scorers have been silent over the last few games, so the club will need names like Sven Baertschi, Roman Horak and Dustin Sylvester to get back on the scoresheet if they want to win. Word is Baertschi has been creating chances every game, but the puck just hasn’t been going in.

On the back-end, the team will need a better effort all around, ranging from the goaltender to each and every defender. Irving wasn’t great last game but he was also left out in the cold more than once thanks to bad decisions or poor execution. The team has benefited from great puck stopping so far this year but they’re also a top-10 team in terms of denying shots on goal, so it’s sensible to expect a rebound this evening.

As for the Stars, they are one of the worst teams in the AHL through the early going. They have managed a Western Conference low 32 goals through 14 games and don’t have the sort of names up front that will strike fear into their opponents defenders.

The Line-up

Troy Ward mentioned on the FAN960 recently that Greg Nemisz is back skating and may return to the active roster this weekend. We will assume he won’t be in tonight, however.

  • Baertschi – Walter – Horak
  • Kolanos – Byron – Sylvester
  • Olson – Street – Laing
  • Ferland – Reinhart – Ruesegger
  • Brodie – Piskula
  • McCarthy – Breen
  • Callahan – Lamb
  • Taylor

With Irving getting lit up last game. I assume Ward returns to Danny Taylor between the pipes tonight.

The Opponent

As mentioned, the Stars generally lack star power. Third round pick and former washington Capital prospect Cody Eakin is the top scorer on the team with 6 goals and 11 points in 14 games, while both Texas goalies are laboring with sub-.900 save percentages. It’s kind of amazing they have won any games so far.

  • Vincour – Glennie – Eakin
  • Sceviour – Morin – Roussel
  • Fraser – Petersen – Morin
  • Chaisson – Wathier – Smith
  • Dillons – Fortunus
  • Oleksiak – Barker
  • Labrie – Benn
  • Campbell

Petersen and Barker are a couple of ex-Oilers. And, yes, they are both fairly lousy. In fact, despite being ex-NHLers, both are near the bottom of the team in tersm of plus/minus (-6 and -5 respectively). Petersen has just two points in 14 games to boot.

On the back-end Jamie Oleksiak is a monster rookie (6’7", 254 pounds) and 14th overall pick. In net, Jack Campbell is thus far another object lesson in why picking goalies in the first round is a bad idea. Chosen 11th overall back in 2010, Campbell moved from the US National system to the OHL Spitfires and promptly got lit up. His CHL rookie season save percentage was just .884 in 45 games (which is horrible). He followed that up with seasons of .906 (bad) and .892 (terrible again). He played 12 games in the AHL last season and managed an okay .912 save rate, but so far this year is back down to .868 in seven games played. Picked shortly after Campbell that year were Cam Fowler (12th), Jaden Schwartz (14th) and Vladimir Tarasenko (16th). 

Of course, it’s still too early to write Campbell off, but those are simply awful returns for an 11th overall pick. 

Finally, Scott Gelnnie is another formerly highly touted prospect who has yet to deliver on his promise. Picked 8th overall in 2009, Glennie scored 89 and then 91 points in his final two seasons in junior. His rookie effort last year in Texas was altogether underwhelming however – he finished with just 12 goals and 37 points in 70 games (good for 5th on the team in scoring). He has only appeared in 6 games for the Stars so far this year, so it’s hard to say if he’s taken a step forward or not.

Sum it Up

The Heat face a vulnerable opponent this evening. The Stars don’t have an impressive line-up and their goaltending has been awful. With the combination of a weak offense and leaky puck stoppers, the Stars represent a good opportunity for Abbotsford to forget their big loss in Toronto and get back into the "W" column.