Friday, December 20, 2013

Gameday Preview: Stars at Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
17-8-2-2, 38 pts
#4 Western Conference
atOklahoma City Barons
10-13-0-5, 25 pts
#11 Western Conference
December 20th at 7:00 PM
Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City, OK

Texas returns to the scene of the crime tonight in Oklahoma City. Riding a six game win streak, the Stars will try to set a franchise record with a seventh win in the same arena where that current streak started. After posting two losses to Grand Rapids, allowing a total of ten goals, Texas beat the Barons 5-4 on December 3rd with the winner coming off the stick of Colton Sceviour.

Two each against Iowa and San Antonio with one in the middle against Chicago and they're back in OKC looking for #7. The optimist of course would look at any streak this long at say that it's a solid positive for the team overall. They are outscoring opponents 22-12 during the streak. Jack Campbell has yet to lose this season (5-0) and yet to allow more than two goals all season.

A pessimist would perhaps note that the Stars are feasting on strength of schedule. Among the teams they've played during this stretch, only Chicago is in playoffs position. San Antonio, OKC and Iowa all rank outside the playoff picture. In fact, the Stars will not play another team currently in playoff position until January 10th at home against Abbotsford.

The realist in all this though would say that while the Stars are certainly playing lower quality opponents, a win is a win. Two points against Utica is worth the same as two points against Grand Rapids on April 20th when the season is over. The realist might also say that Texas hasn't exactly been dominating these games. They've been doing what it takes to win. Only one game, December 15th at San Antonio, was not decided by a single goal or a single goal and an empty netter. The point is that the Stars are certainly enjoying the streak, not taking it for granted and taking each game as it comes. Coach Desjardins notes that the team has an especially tough time in the Cox Convention Center, so this game will be no cakewalk.

On the injury front, Russ Sinkewich should get at least another few games with the Stars as Maxime Fortunus is staying in Dallas for the time being. Patrik Nemeth will be out "for a while". Scott Glennie is out at least until Christmas and probably further so either Anthony Nigro or Taylor Vause will move into the lineup for Texas. Chris Mueller and Brett Ritchie will need a new linemate on the second line in Glennie's absence.

Speaking of absences, late news on Thursday came through that Linus Omark was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Omark is a point-per-game player in the American league. He played 51 games with Edmonton in 2010-11 but has played progressively fewer each season to now. He has only played one NHL game this season and reportedly asked to be traded. Omark is far and away the leading scorer for the Barons, leading the next clsoest followers (Anton Lander and Matthew Ford) by 14 points. It's a big loss to put it mildly.

Stars injury/call up report:
Sceviour, Fortunus, Gaunce (callup)
Nemeth, Glennie (injury)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog (unofficial): NewsOK's Barons Hockey
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

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