Friday, November 14, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars at Grand Rapids

Texas Stars
6-3-2-0, 14 pts
#3 Western Conference
atGrand Rapids Griffins
4-6-1-0, 9 pts
#13 Western Conference
November 14th at 6:00 PM
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

The Stars hit the road for their first three-in-three weekend of the season. It is a light year in terms of the grueling three-in-three; Texas will only play three this season. Two of those three are exclusively on the road, starting with this weekend's bouts in Grand Rapids and Rockford.

Grand Rapids, of course, is very familiar to Stars' fans and players alike. The Stars ended the Griffins' chances at a Calder Cup repeat in six games last May on the way to their own Calder Cup championship. The game pits the last two Calder Cup champions against each other for the first time this season. The last meeting between the two was a raucous affair at the Cedar Park Center. Petr Mrazek guaranteed a win and then allowed four goals and got the hook just 22 minutes into the game. Texas advanced with a final score of 7-1.

The same Mrazek is back in Grand Rapids for a stint. Jonas Gustavsson sustained an injury in Detroit and Mrazek got the call. He hasn't gotten as many starts as the Red Wings want to keep him fresh, so they've sent him to Grand Rapids for some ice time. Tom McCollum takes his spot in Detroit for now.

It's been a weird and atypical year so far for the Griffins. They are 13th in the conference and just snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-3 win in their last game. A lot of big names from last year's playoffs and the Cup run the year before are in Detroit now, including Tomas Jurco, Andrej Nestrasil, Gustav Nyquist, and Riley Sheahan. The Griffins are getting pedestrian netminding so far. They are tied with Texas at 34 goals against in 11 games (3.09 per game). The save percentages for both tenders are not great. Grand Rapids is allowing just 25 shots per game, 4th in the league. Where they are really hurting is goal scoring. They rank 27th in the league with just 2.36 per game. Only Iowa, Charlotte and Toronto rank lower.

One bright spot for the Griffins in tonight's game will be the anticipated arrival of Anthony Mantha. The right wing was Detroit's top pick in 2013. He went on to score 120 points in his final season with Val d'Or. His club went on to win the QMJHL championship, where he scored 38 points in 24 games. He was a point a game in the ensuing Memorial Cup. Those are video game numbers.

Mantha was injured in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, fracturing his tibia. He has been practicing with the team for several weeks, but tonight will be his first pro game action.

“I plan on playing him a good amount,” Coach Blashill told mlive.com. “I plan on playing him on one of our top lines and on the power play and so he’ll play lots of minutes."

Stars injury/call up report:
Klingberg, McKenzie (callup)
Smith (injury)

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

3 comments:

  1. After last night's performance in Dallas, I wouldn't think we'd see Klingberg back and that's on top of being Ruff's ONLY right handed defenseman. I'd more expect one of the other D men to be sent back and they keep Klingberg.

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    Replies
    1. Oleksiak is the only one who is waiver-exempt. Connauton seems like the smart choice but they could easily lose him to a waiver claim.

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  2. It will be interesting to see what Dallas does when Val is ready to return, with Moen getting settled I would assume McKenzie gets sent back in the next couple of days, but when Val returns does Dallas send down a dman and only carry 6 dmen till an injury or waive a forward.

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