Gameday Preview: Stars v. Peoria Rivermen

Texas Stars
35-22-3-4, 77 pts
#3 West Division
v.Peoria Rivermen
30-26-2-6, 68 pts
#6 West Division
March 10th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

It's Clear Day and it's Game Day! Time to get excited, Stars fans. The Peoria Rivermen come to town tonight for their fourth and final game of the regular season in the Cedar Park Center. The Stars have dropped two of the three contests against the Rivermen in Austin. In all three games, the winning team has scored at least five goals and won by a margin of at least three. Overall, Texas is 2-3-1 against Peoria this season despite their less than impressive record against the league on the whole.

Peoria is currently fighting for its life in terms of playoff chances. In order to draw even with Milwaukee's current points pace, Peoria will have to gain better than 80% of their points from here on out, that is, 26 of 32 remaining. Every game is a must win for this club. Peoria is currently 6-2-1-1 in their last ten games and is coming off an overtime loss in San Antonio last night by the mark of 6-5. Rivermen goalie Ben Bishop was pulled half way through the game after allowing four goals on 24 Rampage shots. Backup Joe Fallon took the loss, as he allowed the game winning goal.

This is the first time that Texas has played Peoria since the trade deadline so there will be some new faces on the Rivermen bench. As previously mentioned, Peoria's backup tender is no longer Hannu Toivonen, who now laces them up in Rockford. Joe Fallon now splits starts with Ben Bishop. He is 1-1 in two starts for the Rivermen and 16-11-1 overall on the season with 2.64 GAA and .913 SV%. Ben Bishop is 18-16-3 in 39 games for the Rivermen with 2.85 GAA and .899 SV%.

The Rivermen also picked up D Daryl Boyle and F Pierre-Cedric LaBrie. The Rivermen lost RW Aaron Palushaj, C Yan Stastny and D Danny Richmond as well. For the record, that's 65 points worth of offense between the players leaving (16-59-65) and 26 points for the incoming players (9-17-26).

Between Matt Climie and Brent Krahn, I have no idea who will start tonight. Last weekend, I figured Krahn would get at least one start, but Climie started (and won) both games. My logic says that coach Gulutzan starts Krahn at home where the environment can be as controlled as possible, both before and during the game. Krahn's pregame will be more controlled. He will have slept in his own bed the night before with no bus trip, and Gulutzan will have last change to make sure he gets the best matchups. All of this being said, Matt Climie could start as well. I don't think so, but maybe.

Stars winger Ondrej Roman is currently in Austin, but it is unclear if he will play today. The Stars, and every other team in the league, must submit their 22-man roster for the remainder of the season and the playoffs by 2 PM CST today. Texas has a glut of wingers currently, which could leave some people left off. Luke Gazdic and Mathieu Tousignant have been healthy scratches the past two games and were trading spots in the lineup for weeks before that. Tyler Shelast was already sent down to Allen when Landon Wilson rejoined the lineup. The Stars likely include Ondrej Roman on the Clear Day list if he is eligible, but at this point he has not played a single (professional) game in North America. If you include Roman, that makes 24 players on the current roster. Two are going to be left out at 2 PM today.

Here's a somewhat surprising stat: Peoria leads the league in road power play at 22.4%. Here's a not-so-surprising stat: Texas is #3 in the league on the home penalty kill at 89.3%. When Texas goes to the box, it should be an interesting battle of the best of the best on the 5-on-4. Texas has to hope that they will be able to stay out of the sin bin tonight. Peoria was 3/6 on the PP last night in San Antonio and surely hungry for more extra-man success.

Stars injury/call up report:
Garrett Stafford (day-to-day lower body injury sustained on March 5 v. Rockford)

Blog (unofficial): Cleve's World
Twitter: @peoria_rivermen