Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Toronto Marlies

Texas Stars
27-13-2-3, 59 pts
#2 Western Conference
v.Toronto Marlies
26-14-2-2, 56 pts
#3 Western Conference
February 1st at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Thanks to some fortunate scheduling, local Ontario ex-pats will get a chance to cheer on their favorite farm club in Cedar Park twice this season. The Toronto Marlies always bring the crowds to the Cedar Park Center, regardless of standings, thanks to the strong fanbase of the Maple Leafs. For the past two seasons, the matchup has had the good fortune of also being a very important game for both teams.

The Stars come in having dropped the past two games on their homestand. After going on a 12 game home winning streak, Texas dropped consecutive home games for the first time this season, losing to Grand Rapids and San Antonio. In the two games, they were outscored 8-3 and went 1-for-13 on the power play. The Stars are averaging north of 3.5 goals per game on the season and have a league best 28.8% power play. It was an off week to be sure. Perhaps it was injuries catching up to the club. Texas is down players up and down the lineup, including both goaltenders. The Stars anticipate the return of one of those tenders today though as Cristopher Nilstorp will likely get the start today.

Toronto comes in needing OT to beat the Rampage last night at the AT&T Center. It was a game that San Antonio should have won, but winning games you shouldn't is something that good teams do. The Marlies are a good team. They rank third in the conference right now behind Texas and lead the North Division by a comfortable 8 point margin. The Stars have Abbotsford hot on their heels and if they lose tonight and Abbotsford wins, Texas will drop to 4th in the conference.

All time, the Stars are 6-3-0-1 against Toronto and 3-2 against them at the Cedar Park Center. The meeting has the chance to be a goal-filled affair. Six of the top eight scorers in the league will be on the ice between the two clubs. Texas, of course, has Travis Morin, Colton Sceviour, Curtis McKenzie and Chris Mueller. Toronto brings in Spencer Abbott (12-35-47 in 42 GP) and defenseman T.J. Brennan (19-27-46 in 44 GP).

The Marlies also bring a solid goaltender into the Cedar Park Center, Drew MacIntyre. The perennial AHLer has been in the league since 2005 and competed with Toronto last year in the regular season and into the playoffs. He has a 2.37 GAA, .919 SV%, and 20-10-2 record.

One more item to watch for may be fatigue. The Marlies are on the last game of a rather atypical Thursday through Saturday 3-in-3. They lost to OKC on Thursday and beat San Antonio in OT last night. Travel from San Antonio isn't that bad, certainly not as bad as travel from OKC, but it all adds up. Last night's game concluded at 10:24 PM. Watch for Texas to get an early jump, if they can, thanks to tired legs and, if they're behind, to surge ahead in the third as those tired legs give out after playing 160 minutes of hockey in the last three days.

Stars injury/call up report:
Peters, Petersen, Dowling, Nemeth, Campbell, Vause (injury)
Nilstorp (probable)

Website: torontomarlies.com
Blog (official): Bart's Bytes
Twitter: @TorontoMarlies

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