14-8-1-1, 30 pts
#6 West Division
9-11-0-3, 21 pts
#8 West Division
December 8th at 6:35 PM
Rockford MetroCentre, Rockford, IL
Texas got up early this morning after last night's victory in Cedar Park to travel to the state of Illinois to begin a quick but grueling four games in five days road trip. "We're going to play a lot of hockey," said Francis Wathier after the Manitoba game. "We play hockey for a living though, so you can't complain."
Rockford is not even the same team that Texas played in late October. The IceHogs have only won 5 of their 15 games since last playing the Texas Stars, a game the Stars won 4-3 in the shootout. The IceHogs are currently in last place in the division and tied for last place in the conference. Over their last 10 games, they are 3-5-0-2.
Even tonight, they will be missing some of their key pieces to Chicago where the Blackhawks face the Dallas Stars tonight. This evening's game is the second time in a week that Texas and Dallas have faced off against the same AHL/NHL team pairing on the same night, the other being Houston/Minnesota on Saturday. Jeremy Morin (6-3-9, #4 in team scoring) and Rob Klinkhammer (3-6-9, #7) are both with Chicago for tonight's game. The Hogs' leading scorer is defenseman Brian Connelly, who played with Texas Stars Richard Bachman and Scott McCulloch at Colorado College.
In nets for the IceHogs, Hannu Toivonen is the familiar name for Stars fans. Gone is Corey Crawford, who is having a boffo season in Chicago backing up/stealing the job from Marty Turco. Splitting time in net with Toivonen is Alec Richards, a rookie out of Yale where he played with Sean Backman. Neither goalie has particularly outstanding stats with Richards at 6-6-1 with 2.65 GAA and .908 SV% and Toivonen at 3-5-2 with 2.94 GAA and .897 SV%.
Texas will certainly be looking to kick off their road trip on the right foot with regards to special teams. The Stars have played the fewest road games of any team in the league before tonight and currently hold the worst power play percentage in the league on the road at 8.1%. As they gain opportunities tonight against a Rockford team that averages in the top 5 of PIMs/game, they will hope to score some goals with the man advantage to up the confidence level of the unit.
Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (day-to-day lower body)
Gagnon, Larsen (call up)
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog