Gameday Preview: Stars v. Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
31-21-3-4, 69 pts
#4 West Division
v.Houston Aeros
28-25-6-1, 63 pts
#5 West Division
February 26th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars return home from their second longest road trip of the season to play their next nine in the state of Texas and seven of those at home in the Cedar Park Center.

Tonight's opponent, the familiar Houston Aeros, are nipping at the Stars' heels in the West Division playoff race. The Aeros aren't picking up points at a torrid pace, but are staying relatively close behind the Stars. Texas comes into tonight's game with a 3 game losing streak after going 2-3-0 on their road trip. Houston is on the second game of a 3-in-3. They played last night in Houston, losing to Manitoba 3-2. Here's is The Third Intermission's postgame wrap for that game.

Texas and Houston will face each other a total of 12 times this season. They have already squared off seven times, and Texas has had the clear advantage. The Stars have gone 5-1-0-1, collecting points in six of the seven contests. Texas is 2-1 in the home contests this year against Houston.

Houston has had a bit of a goalie rollercoaster recently themselves. NHL #1 Niklas Backstrom and #2 Josh Harding have had injury issues recently, triggering the callup of multiple Aeros tenders. Anton Khudobin, who has faced the Stars in four games this year going 1-3, is currently in Minnesota with the Wild. This leaves Wade Dubielewicz and Barry Brust between the pipes for Houston. Dubie is 12-11-0 on the season with a 2.51 GAA and .903 SV%. He has faced the Stars five times and is 1-2 in those games (Khudobin replaced him in two games and took the loss in both). The only goaltender the Stars haven't seen in Barry Brust, who is 6-5-1 on the season in 13 games with a 2.48 GAA and .905 SV%. The Aeros leading scorer, Maxim Noreau, blocked a shot off his foot last night and may not play today.

The Aeros are 4-6-0-0 in their last ten games. Their special teams are scary on the road. The Aeros are #2 on the road power play at 21.1% and #4 on road PK at 85.5%. The Stars, of course, being a defensive team, rock out the penalty kill at home with 88.7% for #3 in the league. Texas doesn't do so well on the power play but still ranks #12 at 19.5%. Houston also has a curious stat line of being 3-12-0-0 when trailing after two on the road. Texas needs to be vigilant in the third with this team. They have some ability to strike back. Also, the Stars have yet to win when trailing after two, going 0-16-1-1 overall and 0-8-0-0 at home.

From the "On The Ice" Report on Wednesday, Danielle and Josh indicated that the game was selling well so let's hope for a sellout crowd!

Also, if you are signed up or want to signup to travel with Stars fans to see Texas in San Antonio on the 12th of March, don't forget that Teresa will be collecting money tonight and Sunday in front of Guest Services during both intermissions.

I suggest that you read up on the Aeros at their unofficial blog (like this blog) at The Third Intermission.

Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (stomach strain), Krahn (lower body), Ludwig (day-to-day lower body)

Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros