Friday, March 25, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
37-24-4-6, 84 pts
#3 West Division
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
35-27-2-8, 80 pts
#3 North Division
March 25th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

While the Stars have been battling it out among the West Division teams to make the playoffs, the Griffins have been embroiled in a similar battle in the North. Grand Rapids is sporting a 7-2-1-0 record in their last ten games. With Abbotsford and Lake Erie making similar turnarounds, there are suddenly several more teams in playoff contention with Hamilton and Manitoba. The Griffins only have eight more games to make their case and must surpass Abbotsford and Hamilton in points percentage to be guaranteed a spot. Two games in Texas are definitely circled on their calendar.

For Texas, they are coming off a huge character win on Tuesday against Houston. The power play, which has struggled all year, chipped in two goals. Richard Bachman got his sixth shutout of the year, placing him 3rd in the league in shutouts behind Brad Thiessen and Barry Brust. With the combination of San Antonio and Oklahoma City's recent struggles, two wins this weekend against Grand Rapids could salt away the playoffs for the Stars.

Top goaltender, Joey MacDonald, is in Detroit with the Red Wings leaving Jordan Pearce to be the main man in nets for GR. Pearce, in fact, has started the past 18 games and 24 of the last 26. Pearce's last game off was February 13th against Rochester. Pearce has a win and a shootout loss to Texas this year among a 19-9-5 overall record.

The backup for Grand Rapids is one-time Stars emergency backup, Dave Brown from the QC Mallards. Brown has played 40 minutes of AHL hockey on the year, allowing two goals on 17 shots in relief of Pearce on Wednesday.

For Texas, Bachman and Beskorowany have split the starts against the Griffins this year, with each collecting a win and a loss. The two netminders have split the load much more evenly than the crew in Grand Rapids, Bachman with eleven and Beskorowany with six of the last 17 games since Krahn's season-ending injury.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Gazdic (unspecified injuries)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (call up)

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

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