Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
3-4-0-0, 6 pts
#12 Western Conference
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
2-4-1-1, 6 pts
#15 Western Conference
November 3rd at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Please note that I am still not in Austin tonight. Apologies for light post updates this week. I will have a postgame update as soon as time and travel allow. I will be back in Cedar Park for next week's games, however.

The Stars emerge from hibernation shortly today to faceoff against the Grand Rapids Griffins before receding again and not playing another tilt until next Friday. The Griffins, farm team of the Detroit Red Wings, are having a poor start to the year. They are a dangerous team in the scoring department with 26 goals for in just 8 games.

They are led in that regard by Gustav Nyquist, who would undoubtedly be in Detroit without the lockout. Nyquist has four goals and six assists. He is trailed by Tomas Tatar with an even four goals and assists and new addition defenseman Chad Billins with eight assists. Billins is in his first professional year and is a product of Ferris State.

Potent offenses, however, must be matched with stout defenses. That was the story last year for Texas and so it is this year for Grand Rapids. They have allowed 31 goals against in their short season so far. After spending most of the season with GRG last year, goalie Jordan Pearce failed to win a game in three starts and was sent down to the Toledo Walleye. Tom McCollum hasn't faired much better, but at least has two wins to his name with a 2-2-1 record. McCollum clicks in at 3.11 GAA and the new backup, Petr Mrazek, has yet to play an AHL game in his career.

The Stars will do alright with Grand Rapids if they can weather the storm. Of the 31 goals against for the Griffins, twelve have come in the third period, where they are getting outscored 12-5 overall. Overall, by the way, Texas is getting outscored in every period, but it's worst in the second at a 3-9 deficit.

After winning their first two games, Texas has lost four of their last five. Would you believe that the Stars rank in the top three for fewest shots against per game? And yet they rank in the bottom nine in fewest goals against. The difference is striking. There are two explanations. Either the goaltenders are letting in easy ones, which is partly the case given some of the goals that have gotten by this year. Also, shot quality is just as important as shot quantity. If there are 100 shots a game but they all come from distance and without traffic, that game is perhaps more winnable than one where the shots are low but they all come from the high slot and through traffic. The Stars have now changed goaltenders in four of their seven games on the season. That is not a recipe for success.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sceviour (injury)

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

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