Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
5-6-0-1, 11 pts
#13 Western Conference
v.Charlotte Checkers
10-3-0-1, 21 pts
#2 Western Conference
November 17th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

After wins in their last two and points in their last three, Texas faces a big test over their next two games starting tonight against the #2 team in the conference, the Charlotte Checkers. The Checkers, who lead the South Division, come to town for the second time on the year after opening the Cedar Park Center for the 2012-13 season and falling in the seventh round of the shootout off the stick of Jordie Benn.

"They came in here and it was a good game," said Matt Fraser. "We managed to squeak it out in the shootout and they're going to come in here looking for redemption."

Since that point, Charlotte has amassed a 9-3 record with goalie Dan Ellis picking up Goalie of the Week honors to boot. They come into the Cedar Park Center on a three game winning streak, having beaten the Rampage in San Antonio last night 4-3.

"We just have to keep things to the basics and play shift by shift," Fraser added.

The story of the last week has been the special teams turn around. Since the Saturday game, the power play is 4/16 (25%), and the penalty kill is 15/16 (93.8%). While still mired in 24th and 30th place respectively due to the inertia of their previous play, the arrow is pointing in the right direction.

Texas has been waiting more on the penalty kill, being patient and looking for lanes to clear, and getting in shooting lanes and giving up the body as well. Getting those clears and changing to keep legs fresh is also helping.

Here's the problem though: Charlotte has the #1 ranked power play in the league right now at 28.8%. Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman have four power play goals each; Zac Dalpe has three. Stopping the Charlotte power play is a key to the game.

On the power play, it's been about keeping it simple. Also helping is the play of Matt Fraser. Fraser had three of the Stars' four power play goals this past week. That is where he did much of his damage in his rookie season (11 PPG of 37 total) and where the Stars need him to continue to score this season.

As much as scoring from Matt Fraser is appreciated, however, Texas needs goals from their depth scorers too. Francis Wathier has six assists but has yet to pot a goal. Toby Petersen only has 1-1-2, and Alex Chiasson just has a goal to his name. The goal from the fourth line (minus Gazdic, plus Wathier) last game helped the case for depth scoring, but Texas still only has one player with double digits points: Cody Eakin.

Stars injury/call up report:
Benn (concussion)

Website: gocheckers.com
Checkers Social Media: Social Media
Blog (unofficial): Chasing Checkers
Twitter: @checkershockey
Twitter: @mikelappan (PR)

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