Friday, November 18, 2011

Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
6-7-0-1, 13 pts
#12 Western Conference
atHouston Aeros
9-3-0-3, 21 pts
#5 Western Conference
November 18th at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

The Stars and Aeros meet in Houston for only their second matchup of the season, the first in Houston. Texas and Houston will meet a total of twelve times this season, including four of Texas's next five games.

For Texas, this might be just the right timing to catch the Aeros off their game. The Minnesota Wild have been struck down by injuries and some of the Aeros' top players have been called up to pitch in. Out of the lineup currently are centers Warren Peters and Casey Wellman and defensemen Kris Fredheim and Nate Prosser. Of the four players, Wellman has to hurt the most, as he has been a point per game player this season. Losing Peters will affect the teams status on the faceoff dots negatively.

Leading the way once again for Houston on offense though is the captain, Jon DiSalvatore, a noted Star-killer. In 25 career games against Texas, DiSalvatore has collected 11 goals and 9 assists for 0.8 points per game. Rare is the game when he is not on the scoresheet when these two teams meet. Watch for #14 tonight; he leads the team in offense this season with 7-9-16 in just 15 games of work.

In short, the Stars may have a bit of an opportunity here with callups, but they can't get caught being outworked again like in the San Antonio game. Houston is a much better team right now than the Rampage and they are much more dangerous. If Texas wants to win, they need to play the full 60 minutes.

Additionally, Texas needs to work on 5-on-5 scoring. GM Scott White called this out on the radio this past week and he's right; the numbers don't lie. Texas has scored 47 goals on the season. Twenty-one of those, or 45%, have been power play goals. That isn't a sustainable strategy. What happens when the power play isn't clicking, the other club's penalty kill is out of this world or the other team just won't take penalties? I can't see a team based around the power play performing well against a team like Milwaukee or Chicago, currently both bottom 3 in penalties taken.

Houston, by the way, is also in the bottom five of penalties taken. And they are #7 in the league on home ice penalty kill. Is this a good time to break out the 5-on-5 scoring? You bet.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen (callup)

Website: aeros.com
Blog (official): Pilot to Gunner
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros
Twitter: @aero_joe (play-by-play)

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