Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
33-22-3-4, 73 pts
#4 West Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
37-23-2-3, 79 pts
#2 West Division
March 5th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Texas gets back on the ice tonight after a four game layoff. Rockford last played on Wednesday against Lake Erie, winning in regulation. Rockford has been doing well over their past ten games, going 7-3. Meanwhile, Texas has a 4-6 record in the last ten games themselves.

Texas and Rockford are both in the West Division and will play each other eight times this year. Games against Rockford were heavily frontloaded on the season for the Texas Stars. Texas already has a 4-1-0-0 record against Rockford, but the two teams have not played since a two game set on December 11th and 12th. The first game Texas dropped against Rockford this season was that last game on December 12th. The two teams have not met in the three months since and will meet three times, including tonight, in the next month. Texas is 1-1 against Rockford at home this season.

The big story for tonight's game is certainly the return of Brent Krahn and Landon Wilson to the ice. This team was flying high in the first two months of the season until the injury bug struck down the Stars #1 goaltender, Krahn, and their captain, Wilson. The release of Todd Ford this week and the reassignment of Tyler Shelast along with information from inside the Stars organization tell us that we should be seeing both in uniform tonight. We may not have Krahn in goal, but he will at least be in uniform. It has to be a huge emotional win for the team.

Krahn's last game was November 22nd at Chicago, a 3-1 loss for the visitors. On the season, Krahn's numbers are gaudy. He has a 1.41 GAA with a .958 SV% and a 10-2-0 record, including 3 shutouts. That is a full half-goal better than any other tender in the league. However, he has only seen 722 minutes of action this season.

The IceHogs's parent club, the Blackhawks, made a few trades at the deadline that affected the minor league team. Rockford lost goaltender Joe Fallon and defenseman Daryl Boyle to Peoria in exchange for goaltender Hannu Toivonen, defenseman Danny Richmond and the always popular "future considerations". The Anaheim Ducks also sent over defenseman Nick Boynton for future considerations.

Rockford is one of the worst teams in the league on the power play on the road. They are mid-pack on the penalty kill on the road. As we know, Texas is amazing on the penalty kill at home, #2 only to the Hershey Bears. One thing to note is the recent uptick in the Stars' power play at home, which is now at 20.7%, which is #9 in the league. The IceHogs are a first period team, outscoring opponents 63-51 in the first. The only period where they have a negative differential is the second, when they have been outscored 60-66. Texas is a second period team, outscoring opponents 65-47.

Centers Mark Cullen (17-28-45) and Bracken Kearns (14-31-45) co-lead the IceHogs with 45 points each. LW Kyle Greentree leads in goals with 22. Meanwhile, Richard Petiot and Brian Connelly, a rookie, are two to watch for on the blue line. Petiot (6-25-31) leads the team in plus-minus at plus-23. Connelly is the team's top scoring defenseman with 4-28-32.

Previously, Joe Fallon and Corey Crawford split time in net for the IceHogs. Now, Hannu Toivonen will split with Crawford. Crawford has a 2.66 GAA with a .909 SV% and is 18-12-2 on the season. Toivonen, who has yet to start for Rockford, collected a 11-11-3 record with Peoria, a 2.73 GAA and .906 SV%.

Stars injury/call up report:
None. (I can hardly believe it...)

Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs