The Texas Stars went 1-2-0 over the past week but continue to hold onto sixth place in the Western Conference. The Stars (32-21-14) are three points ahead of the ninth-place team in the West. Dallas forward Valeri Nichushkin is in Cedar Park on a conditioning assignment and played two games last week. Here’s the latest on Dallas’ American Hockey League affiliate.
Nichushkin gets playing time with Texas; Lindell back to Finland
Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin headed to the AHL last week on a conditioning assignment. He played two games and will play one more this week before heading back to Dallas. When Nichushkin hit the ice Friday, it was his first game since early November, when he went out with a hip injury that would eventually require surgery. He had no points and three shots in Texas’ 2-0 loss to Grand Rapids.
“For a player that hadn’t played in five months he is a pretty special player,” Texas coach Derek Laxdal told media after the game. “You saw how strong he is on the puck. He had a couple looks on the power play with Devin Shore. He was fine. He is only going to be better tomorrow night.”
Nichushkin played Saturday as well, registering no points and four shots on goal as the Stars fell to Grand Rapids 4-3.
“I feel good after two games. I think it is good,” Nichushkin told media after Saturday’s game. “I start the game I feel a little pain but it’s not serious. When I am warm in the third period, I feel good and play better.”
Nichushkin is expected to play in Wednesday’s game against Adirondack in Cedar Park and then return to the NHL.
Dallas defense prospect Esa Lindell, a third-round pick in 2012, headed back to Finland last week after playing five games with the Texas Stars. Lindell registered one assist during his time in the AHL. He is headed back to Europe to participate in Finland’s camp for the World Championship.
“I thought Lindy was fine,” Laxdal said. “He came in here and gave us a chance to get a look at him. He played every game. He was fine. He didn’t look out of place. He’ll fit right into our lineup next year. It shows the depth of the organization going forward next year.”
Lindell joined Texas after a superb season in Finland’s top league. He was tops among league defensemen in points per game and led all league players in average ice time per game.
Tuesday March 24: Texas 4, Iowa 3
The Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat Iowa 4-3 at Cedar Park Center Tuesday. After surrendering the first two goals of the game, the Stars tallied four straight goals from Derek Hulak, Devin Shore, Maxime Fortunus and Branden Troock to build a 4-2 lead. Jack Campbell stopped 33 of 36 shots for Texas, which won for the seventh time in the past eight games.
Friday March 27: Grand Rapids 2, Texas 0
Grand Rapids goaltender Tom McCollum stopped 34 shots as the Griffins defeated the Stars 2-0 at Cedar Park Center Friday night. Jack Campbell stopped 36 of 38 shots for Texas. Valeri Nichushkin played his first game for Texas while on his conditioning assignment. He had no points and three shots on goal while playing on a line with Devin Shore and Matej Stransky.
Saturday March 28: Grand Rapids 4, Texas 3
Grand Rapids swept the weekend series from the Stars, winning 4-3 at Cedar Park Center Saturday night. Grand Rapids goaltender Tom McCollum came up big again, stopping 45 of 48 shots. The two teams were tied 2-2 heading into the third period, but the Griffins scored twice in the first half of the period to take a 4-2 lead. Gemel Smith, Kevin Henderson and Jamie Oleksiak scored for the Stars. Jack Campbell stopped 32 of 36 shots. Valeri Nichushkin had no points and four shots on goal in his second game with Texas. He played on a line with Devin Shore and Branden Troock.
The week ahead
Wednesday April 1, Adirondack at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Friday April 3, Texas at Milwaukee, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday April 4, Texas at Chicago, 7:00 p.m.
*Texas posted a 7-3-1 record in March.
*Goaltender Jack Campbell was 5-3-0 in March with a 2.34 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
*Defenseman Julius Honka has registered seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past 11 games.
*Center Devin Shore has registered four points (two goals, two assists) in his first ten AHL games.
Here is where Texas ranks in some key statistical categories.
Goals for: 3.01 (6th)
Goals against: 2.88 (18th)
Shots for: 31.2 (9th)
Shots against: 32.2 (25th)
Power play: 19.6 (4th)
Penalty kill: 86.5 (5th)
Here is the Texas lineup from the last game.
Derek Hulak – Travis Morin – Greg Rallo
Brendan Ranford – Justin Dowling – Scott Glennie
Valeri Nichushkin – Devin Shore – Branden Troock
Kevin Henderson – Gemel Smith – Matej Stransky
Jamie Oleksiak – Maxime Fortunus
Cameron Gaunce – Julius Honka
Derek Meech – Ludwig Bystrom
3/28: D Esa Lindell assigned to Team Finland from Texas (AHL)
3/27: C Jesse Root assigned to Idaho (ECHL) from Texas (AHL)
3/27: RW Valeri Nichushkin assigned to Texas (AHL) from Dallas (NHL)
The Idaho Steelheads, Dallas’ ECHL affiliate, went 2-0-1 last week to run its points streak to six games (5-0-1). The Steelheads are first in the Pacific Division with a 45-17-6 record.
Click here for Texas Stars statistics
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.