Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
21-13-2-2, 46 pts
#4 West Division
v.Chicago Wolves
21-17-2-2, 46 pts
#5 West Division
January 12th at 11:00 AM
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

After a previously planned day game against the Chicago Wolves in Cedar Park was moved to the evening, Texas will take the ice for their first day game in team history. Chicago's day game is due to school field trips to see the game. Expect a loud and rowdy crowd full of screechy voices.

The Wolves and Stars have faced each other three times so far this season with Texas winning each match. In today's game, both teams come in with two game losing streaks in hand with Chicago falling at home to Hamilton and Toronto over the weekend.

Texas and Chicago are tied in the West Division standing at 46 points as of today, but the Stars hold the edge with four games in hand. The two teams' records are identical save for Chicago's four extra regulation losses. Texas will do a lot for their chances in the standings if they can hand Chicago another regulation loss, avoiding giving a point to a West Division competitor. With things stacked up so tightly in the West, Texas must win to hold on to fourth place. After tonight's game between Houston and Rockford, which has to favor the Aeros, Texas could fall as far as 6th place in the West with a loss and an Aeros win.

This year's Chicago squad gets it done with offense, ranking #9 in the league with 3.29 goals per game. The top 5 scorers for Chicago have all individually outscored the #1 scorer on the Stars. However, Chicago's penchant for offense has consequences: their goals against numbers are abysmal. The Wolves rank 28th in the league in goals against with 3.38 per game.

Additionally, two of the Wolves' top scorers will be missing in tomorrow's game with both Tim Stapleton and Spencer Machacek called up to Atlanta. Still in the lineup though will be top scorer Darren Haydar, who is a point per game player for Chicago. Another storyline is the wide variance of plus minus on the team. Jason Krog sports a minus-16 despite 39 points. Andrew Deveaux is similarly challenged at minus-14 with 22 points. Bright spots include Ryan Garbutt and Mark Matheson at plus-15 and plus-12, respectively

In nets, the familiar duo of MacIntyre (4-3-1, 3.39 GAA, .888 SV%) and Mannino (12-9-1, 3.10, .896) still remains from last year. Early surprise star Ed Pasquale (5-6-0, 3.16, .892) lost his shine and has been assigned to the ECHL.

Stars injury/call up report:
Blindenbacher (upper body)
Krahn, McCulloch (lower body)
Larsen (call up)

Website: chicagowolves.com
Blog (official): UnMic'd with Jason Shaver
Message Board: Wolves Forum
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves
Twitter: @theshaves (Wolves PxP)

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