Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
25-28-2-2, 54 pts
#15 Western Conference
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
25-22-5-4, 59 pts
#12 Western Conference
March 7th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The surging Grand Rapids Griffins visit the Cedar Park Center for the first time this year in the first post-Clear Day game for either club. Texas met Grand Rapids in Michigan for one prior game on the season with Texas scoring four unanswered goals to win 6-4 after falling behind 4-2 in the first. The Griffins dropped their first game in six on Sunday at Hamilton.

Two big factors are playing into that recent uptick. First, NHL vet Ty Conklin was recently assigned from Detroit. In a similar situation to Dallas's Richard Bachman, Conklin was outplayed by Joey MacDonald while Red Wings starter Jimmy Howard was out with an injury. Detroit made the call to send Conklin down and keep MacDonald. Now, he is 5-1 in six games with a 1.81 GAA and .936 SV%. The tandem that started the season in Grand Rapids (MacDonald and Pearce) is now in Detroit with Howard again out of the lineup. Conklin would be exposed to re-entry waivers if called up, hence the Pearce callup.

The other half of winning games is scoring goals, and the Swedish line has been doing just that for Grand Rapids. As chronicled on TheAHL.com this week, the line of wingers Fabian Brunnstrom and Gustav Nyquist and center Joakim Andersson has been tearing it up. The line combined for 18 points on the team's recent five game streak.

As to Texas, the Stars will dress Shawn Weller, Michael Forney and Drew Schiestel for the first time at home this evening. Schiestel is expected to play, as ice-time was a precondition of his assignment from Buffalo. Weller should be in the lineup after dealing with a death in the family over the weekend. According to the team roster, Forney will continue to wear 39, Weller 13 and Schiestel 2. Keep in mind though that those numbers may simply reflect the jerseys available to the team on the road. Nick Layton, for example, wore #39 when joining Texas on the road but then switched the #22 once reaching Austin.

Stars injury/call up report:
Vincour (callup)
Labrie, Spang, Schultz, Fortunus (injury)

Some changes to the injury and callup report here as Larsen and Garbutt are ineligible to play now.

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

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