Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Oklahoma City Barons

Texas Stars
3-1-1-0, 7 pts
#7 Western Conference
v.Oklahoma City Barons
2-2-1-0, 5 pts
#11 Western Conference
October 29th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Stars clawed their way to a point last weekend against this Barons squad. Neither team has played since. Tonight's contest will end the mini-series between the two teams that saw them play four games against each other in the first three weeks of the season. The teams will not play again until they match up for two games bracketing Thanksgiving next month.

Texas has been high-flying on offense, scoring 3.2 goals per game. Part of the problem in that is the other side of the coin. Last year, Texas paired a 3.6 goals per game offense with a 2.6 goals per game defense. It's early, but the Stars are allowing 3 goals per game on average. If you take out the shutout against Utica, those nummbers bounce to an even 3.75 both ways. Granted its early in the season, but it's a troubling trend. A defense that can score is great, but it also needs to defend. It's unclear if the Stars have a shutdown pair that they can really roll out with any regularity. Nemeth was that shutdown guy last year and now he's in Dallas (and on the IR). In his place, Texas has Julius Honka, who is gifted offensively but doesn't have the size to be a nasty defenseman like Nemeth.

One thing that isn't helping that overall goals against number is the penalty kill, which is not having success and getting a lot of chances to practice. The raw numbers are not great, an 80% kill rate. While the number of 25 times shorthanded doesn't seem bad when you look at the whole league, if you take that on a 'per game' basis, Texas is #6 in the league in penalty kills per game. Also they're allowing a PPG per game. That's not a winning formula in the slightest. Is it possible that the aforementioned lack of a shutdown pairing is making the team take more penalties because they are getting beat? It's something to watch tonight.

Stars injury/call up report:
McKenzie, Jokipakka (call up)

Website: okcbarons.com
Blog: Tend the Farm
Twitter: @OKCBaronsHockey

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