27-13-3-4, 61 pts
#2 Western Conf.
23-18-1-4, 51 pts
#9 Western Conf.
January 31st at 6:00 PM
Carver Arena, Peoria, IL
Peoria and Texas are both playing the 3rd game of a 3-in-3 set tonight. The Stars are on the road, so perhaps that gives them a slight disadvantage. Then again, the Stars are winners of 4 straight and the Rivermen have lost their past two.
Additionally, the Rivermen's last lost was a heartbreaker. As detailed in the AHL Round-up for yesterday, the Rivermen were up 4-0 on the Aeros in the third but then allowed 4 goals in a span of just 7:34 and ended up losing 5-4 in the shootout. It was a sparkling performance by Derek Armstrong of the Rivermen, who scored all of Peoria's goals in the game. We would be wise to watch out for him tonight.
Peoria and Texas have already played twice this year but will ultimately play eight games against each other. Texas has yet to defeat the Rivermen, going 0-1-1-0 so far in the season series.
Texas is scoring on the power play at will recently. They are 12/26 in their last seven games, scoring at least one power play goal in each game. The Rivermen are 25th in the league on the penalty kill at home with a 79.6% PK. The Stars definitely have room to exploit this trend. The Rivermen are good on the power play at home, ranking 7th in the league with 21.5%, but the Stars are just as good on the road on the PK at 5th in the league with 87.2%
They are also getting contributions from all across the ice; three of the four lines in last night's game scored. The only line without a goal was the Gazdic-Tousignant-Sawada line; the Morin line scored twice. Good team scoring is a key element for a team that doesn't always score in bunches. However, recently we have been. The Stars have scored an average of 4.14 goals per game over the last 7. This is while allowing an average of 1.43 goals against per game over the same span. That is a recipe for a killer team.
Last night the Stars got back to the other good trend that has helped them through this recent points streak. They did not allow a goal in the first period. One of the deadly sins that they kept committing was allowing that first goal, often very early in the period. It immediately puts you on your heels.
I think the recipe is simple. Score first on the power play and play good team defense. The Stars came out of a game that they got outshot in 2-to-1 with a win. It's because of quality of shots. That comes back to playing together as a team. Also, I think the team is having more fun now that they are back in the winning mood, which always helps.
Ford has to start tonight. He can't not start. There is no way you would play the same goalie three nights in a row, especially after taking nearly 80 shots in the two games prior. Commenter 'StarryEyed' noted that she asked Todd Ford last night if he would be starting after the warm-up. He said yes, but then Climie started. Wondering what led to that change...
Not that they would ever see it here, but I wanted to compliment the Peoria Rivermen on the great job they do keeping their fans informed on Twitter. You can see the kind of great work they do on their profile page, @Peoria_Rivermen. Would you appreciate if the @TexasStars did something similar?
Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Warren Peters will be back with the Texas Stars tonight after some paperwork issues kept him in Dallas for an extra day. The Stars currently have no call ups to the NHL.