Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Syracuse Crunch

Texas Stars
34-21-4-5, 77 pts
#3 West Division
v.Syracuse Crunch
21-33-3-4, 49 pts
#6 East Division
March 7th at 11:00 AM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Syracuse Crunch are one of the few East Conference teams brave enough to travel to Texas with regularity. The Crunch are finishing a road trip that saw them lose to Houston on Friday night and beat San Antonio on Saturday. The Stars will play a return game in Syracuse on Friday, starting and ending the season series between the two teams in the same week.

For the Syracuse Crunch, it has been another tough season. After last year's disappointing finish, the Crunch ended their affiliation agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets in hopes of finding a more committed affiliate. The Anaheim Ducks stepped up. Fans in Syracuse have again been disappointed, as have been the Crunch's owners, in the affiliate's commitment to the team. Syracuse has lamented their lack of quality goaltending and prospects from the NHL team.

Adding salt to the wound was last week's trade deadline. Joel Perrault was traded to the Ducks, but Anaheim decided to keep him in Manitoba, where he had played all season, because he would have a greater chance at the post-season there. It is a fair assessment of Syrcause's playoff potential, but the snub rubbed season ticket holders the wrong way understandably.

NHL quality help is going to be on display in net for Syracuse on Monday with Ray Emery minding the cage. Emery, who spent much of the past year rehabbing a hip injury due to something called avascular necrosis, was picked up to give Anaheim veteran help in net with Jonas Hiller suffering from vertigo. It is a guarantee that Emery will play Monday, as the stated reason for the send down was for him to play Saturday and Monday. Emery is a superbly talented netminder, who backstopped the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

Texas will look to continue its winning streak at home in front of an audience of elementary school kids. Nothing changes for the Stars in terms of preparation for an 11 AM game, according to goalie Tyler Beskorowany. Texas has played their last several games without a morning skate thanks to Toros basketball, so this will be no different.

Greg Rallo has a two game goal streak going despite missing some teeth thanks to Friday night's game. The Crunch are led in scoring by Nicolas Deschamps (12-22-34), Josh Green (11-23-34), and Patrick Maroon (18-15-33). Texas just needs to play its game and get a lot of shots on Ray Emery to win out the day.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn, Morin, Wathier (lower body)
Vincour (call up)

Travis Morin could return today for Texas. Sources inside the organization indicated he is "very close" to a return.

Website: syracusecrunch.com
Twitter: @SyracuseCrunch
Newspaper: Syracuse.com Crunch Hockey Blog

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