23-14-3-2, 51 pts
#5 West Division
24-18-1-3, 52 pts
#4 West Division
January 21st at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
For the first time since late December, Texas faces off with Houston. The Aeros rank above the Stars in the standings for the first time in a while. The Stars, however, have 4 total games in hand over the Aeros and posses the 3rd best points percentage in the West Division.
The two teams play each other 12 times this year, with half of those contests already taking place. Last year, Texas owned Houston with an 8-3-0-1 record; this year, it has been less than good with a 1-3-1-1 record and an 0-2-0-1 record at the Toyota Center.
Houston has been hot recently. They had a four game winning streak going before falling to the suddenly hot Grand Rapids Griffins on Sunday in the shootout. The Aeros are an interesting dichotomy on the home special teams. They rank 26th in the league in home power play but 4th in the league in penalty kill at home. If there are going to be any power play goals in the game, they will be Houston's. Texas ranks second to last in the league in road power play and 26th on the away PK.
For Houston, there has been a bit of a goaltending carousel. Injuries to both Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore necessitated the callup of Anton Khudobin to Minnesota. Anton played in 4 games, going 2-1-0 with a 1.59 GAA and .942 SV%. In the meantime, Matt Hackett and Josh Tordjman tended net. Tordjman has since been sent back to Bakersfield and Khudobin returned. I would expect him to get this start.
For Texas, it's going to be a crazy roster. With Wathier, Gagnon and Tousignant unavailable, Texas will have 11 forwards and no scratches up front. The thought here is that Texas will probably play 7 defensemen, possibly with one jumping to a forward line. Neither Wathier nor Gagnon played in last night's game in Edmonton, but it is unlikely either would be back in Houston in time for the game even if they were sent back this morning.
Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn, McCulloch (lower body)
Blindenbacher (upper body)
Gagnon, Wathier (call up)
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission