Friday, February 18, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
29-19-3-3, 64 pts
#5 West Division
atGrand Rapids Griffins
24-24-1-6, 55 pts
#6 North Division
February 18th at 6:00 PM
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Texas continues its road trip tonight with the first game of a weekend 3-in-3 in Grand Rapids against the Griffins. Last time these two teams played, five points separated first from seventh in the West Division. You would think that a month would give the playoff picture some focus but going into today's game, now just six points separate 1 from 7.

Grand Rapids is facing their own nasty playoff race, six points back of three teams tied for 3rd place and only two ahead of last place Rochester. Everyone seems to still be in the hunt in the North just as much as the West. Two points are important tonight for both clubs.

The Griffins are coming off a hard fought win against Hamilton on Wednesday. The Bulldogs are one of those teams tied for 3rd. Jamie Tardif took a rough hit and left the ice, only to come back and score the game winning goal on the power play.

Special teams were not good for Texas in Cleveland. Combined with the Griffins, all special teams percentages but the Griffins PP rank in the bottom 4 of the league. "We're missing key guys [on special teams]," said forward Greg Rallo. "But we have ample guys who can step up and fill that role." There are definitely a lot of new players on the units, including recent callups like Mark Derlago and energy liners Chupp and Gazdic. "It's not for lack of chances," Rallo added. "Sometimes things just don't go in."

"We can't use [injuries and callups] as an excuse though."

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Larsen, McCulloch (lower body)
Gagnon, Sawada, Vincour, Ludwig (call up)

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey
Blog: Griffins Hockey on MLive.com

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