24-13-3-4, 55 pts
#5 Western Conf.
26-14-1-5, 58 pts
#2 Western Conf.
January 26th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
The Texas Stars take on the team that they are fighting for first place in the West Division. Expect a spirited game tonight as both of these teams know what's at stake. I am hoping for a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday night, given the dual promotions of Hockey for Haiti and HEB Canned Goods Night.
Texas leads the season series between the two teams 2-1. Texas has split the games played in Cedar Park, which bracketed Thanksgiving, and beat the Admirals 5-1 in Milwaukee just a week after that.
The Admirals are on a tear right now, winning 8 of their last 10 games. The Stars are certainly doing much better than they have over the past month. Currently 4-3-1-2 in the last 10, the Stars have pulled points out of the their last four games. Goalie Matt Climie is back on track and has Todd Ford, who recently had back-to-back shutouts, backing him up. I think we're seeing Climie return to the form he had at the beginning of the season when Krahn served as a reliable pressure valve for him.
The Stars would do well not to give the Admirals any chances on the power play tonight. Milwaukee has the 4th best power play on the road. To counter that, the Stars are 6th in the league on the kill, at 88.8%. Despite their excellence on the road on the PP, the Admirals are 24th on the road on the PK. If the Stars can score on the power play, it will be a very good omen. Don't expect a lot of time spent in the sin bin by either team though. They ranked #27 and #28 in the league for PIMs per game.
Interesting stat line I noticed today: whoever has been winning the game at the 2nd intermission has gone on to win 32 out of 34 times. This is good and bad. The Stars are a lock down team when they have the lead after 2, winning 21 of 23 when that is the case. However, they also have never made a third period comeback to victory, going 0-9-1-1 when trailing after two. They arguably made their most valiant effort to comeback from the deficit last week in Abbotsford, when they scored 3 goals in eight minutes to take the game to overtime. They still lost in the extra period though. Perhaps this is a by product of the conservative offensive style that the Stars play. We know how to shut it down after two, but we can't turn it up.
If the Stars win tonight, they will be one point behind the Admirals for the West Division lead with two games in hand. In fact, the Stars have games in hand against all of the teams in front of them in the Western Conference standings. It's a good place to be!
Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (Stomach strain), Krahn (lower body)
Peters (call up Dallas), Lukowich (call up Vancouver)