Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Manitoba Moose

Texas Stars
26-18-3-3, 58 pts, 0.580
#2 Pacific Division
atManitoba Moose
12-26-3-4, 31 pts, 0.344
#8 Central Division
February 9th at 7:00 PM
MTS Centre, Winnipeg, MB

The return of the Manitoba Moose is not all they had dreamed of. Of course, there is AHL hockey being played at the MTS Centre once again, but the quality is severely lacking and the Moose find themselves with the worst record in the league.

Greg Rallo handles the puck in the last game between these two teams on March 20, 2011.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The team, whose prospects pool played Texas two years ago in the Calder Cup Finals, has compiled just 12 wins on the season. They are coming off a marquee win against league-leading Toronto but lost their previous four straight before that one. Texas comes to town in the middle of a six game homestand. These are two games that the Stars have to win.

A lot of familiar names dot the roster of the Moose. One of the most notable for Texas fans will be Matt Fraser. The forward who played two seasons in Texas still owns the record for most goals in a season and came very close to winning the Marshall Award (most goals) in the forgettable 2011-12 season. He was packaged with Reilly Smith and others for Tyler Seguin in the summer of 2013. Since then, Fraser spent the entire 2014-15 season in the NHL, split between the Oilers and Bruins. He signed with the Jets in the summer of 2015 but has yet to play an NHL game for his hometown club. In fact, he has only four goals and seven assists on the season.

Fraser's struggles really highlight how bad Manitoba is overall. The team does not generate a lot in terms of offense, spends much of their time in their own zone, and gives up goals accordingly. They rank last in the league in both goals for (2.07) and goals against (3.49).

In net, the team has put itself on the back of Eric Comrie, who has started all but two of their games in November 22nd. The young tender, who was a black ace during the IceCaps Calder Cup run, is 10-18-5 with a 3.11 GAA and a .907 SV%. That save percentage also shows of something else about the Moose. They ranked last in shots for (26.49) and shots against (34.29). Comrie sees a lot of rubber.

Rookie Chase De Leo is a center to watch (13-13=26). Brendan Kichton (4-19=23), also a player in the Calder Cup days, is the leading defenseman on the squad. Former Kamloops Blazer and Brendan Ranford teammate JC Lipon rounds out the top three in scoring (9-13=22). He had a five point night in the aforementioned win against Toronto.

Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (call up)
Rallo, Shore, Dowling, Lagace (injury)

Website: moosehockey.com
Twitter: @ManitobaMoose
Newspaper: Winnipeg Free Press
Beat writer: @pwilliamsNHL

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