Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
2-3-0-0, 4 pts
#15 Western Conference
atRockford IceHogs
3-3-0-0, 6 pts
#10 Western Conference
October 25th at 7:05 PM
BMO Harris Bank Center, Rockford, IL

Texas takes to the road for their first true road trip of the season, a four game stint that begins tonight in Rockford. The IceHogs are only one win ahead of the Stars at 3-3-0-0, but early in the season, two points means five places in the standings.

The Stars have traditionally done well against the IceHogs, 9-5-0-0 in two years not including a 4-0 sweep in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. At the BMO Harris Bank Center, formerly the MetroCentre, the Stars are 5-2-0-0 all-time. With Rockford's move to the newly created Midwest Division, the Stars will only face the Blackhawks' farm club four times this season.

The balance of things needs to change up for the Stars early in the season going. All it takes is one look at the goaltending stats to know that this is not the Texas Stars team we saw the last two years. Richard Bachman is the better of the two goalies with a 4.20 GAA and .854 SV%. Beskorowany is at 6.94 GAA and .750 SV%.

Those numbers are not the kinds of numbers you should see out of two quality professional netminders like Bachman and Beskorowany. History on both of them shows that they will improve. The typical minimum acceptable level for save percentage is .900 for a professional. Both players should surface toward those levels as the season progresses.

As of today, Texas leads the league in power play percentage at 35.7%, topping Worcester and Hershey. Unfortunately, Hershey and Worcester also factor in the top five of penalty kill percentage. Texas is seconds to last at 70.4%. Regardless of how high the PP% goes, the PK% is unsustainably low. Power play goals against are back breakers and momentum changers. They put the team in a bad spot mentally and change the feel of the game for the fans (home fans will get quiet, away fans will get rowdy). That number has to improve.

For Rockford, some familiar faces lead the way. Returning Hogs Connelly (0-6-6) and Klinkhammer (2-3-5) lead the scoring while former Stars Brandon Segal leads goal scoring with four goals and no assists.

Alec Richards returns to the net for Rockford this season, currently sporting a 2.77 GAA and .915 SV%, earning a 3-1-0 mark in 4 games. Alexander Salak, who was once thought to be slotted for the backup role in Chicago, has started two games and taken the loss in both, earning a 2.53 GAA and .891 SV%.

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: icehogs.com
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs

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