Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Grand Rapids Griffins

Texas Stars
7-5-1-0, 15 pts, 0.577
#5 Pacific Division
atGrand Rapids Griffins
8-4-0-0, 16 pts, 0.667
#2 Central Division
November 16th at 6:00 PM
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

For Texas, the biggest news in tonight's game is the return of Justin Dowling. The centerman is better than a point per game in the AHL this season and has been getting decent minutes in Dallas the past week plus. His defensive skill, which is part of what got him the callup to Dallas, will assist Texas in innumerable ways. It's an especially salient point after Saturday's eight-goal shellacking.

The Griffins are, as always, good. Todd Nelson and his crew in Grand Rapids are off to an 8-4 start with 2nd place in the Central Division in their possession.

Starting from the net out, Jared Coreau has been the workhorse this year. He's taken 10 of the 12 games so far on the season with a .934 save percentage. His backup, Eddie Pasquale, is doing well also but isn't in the long-term plans for Detroit. Therefore, he has just two games played but sports a .925 save percentage.

Equally stellar goalie play points to the group in front of them as a factor. Robbie Russo, who led the league in plus-minus last year, has returned and has six points in 12 games. Veterans Nathan Paetsch and Brian Lashoff also form a core for the group. Rookie D Joe Hicketts, an undrafted free agent pickup for Detroit, has a goal and three assists in his short opening stint in the AHL.

Up front, big time prospect Anthony Mantha is tied with second-year center Matt Lorito and vet Mitch Callahan for the scoring lead with 10 points each. Former Rampage forward Ben Street and Martin Frk are also among the recognizable names.

The Stars need to tighten up their penalty minute situation, which handed the Barracuda nine opprtunities on Saturday. Grand Rapids is top 10 in the league on the power play (20.8%). Texas ranks one spot ahead in ninth but with the same rounded percentage. On the PK, Texas is the fourth-worst club in the league at 73.5%. The Griffins are fully 14 points better at 87% and 6th in the league.

Stars injury/call up report:
Smith (call up)

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

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