11-12-0-1, 23 pts
#13 Western Conference
15-4-2-6, 38 pts
#4 Western Conference
December 16th at 7:35 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX
The gauntlet continues for the Texas Stars this evening as they face the #4 team in the Western Conference (#2 by points), familiar foe the Houston Aeros. Texas has played the Aeros the most of all AHL opponents, 30 times in 3 years. Houston owns the all-time series 16-10-3-0. This year, Texas has played 5 games with the Aeros, going 2-3-0-0.
Texas is riding high off a win against the league leading Barons on Tuesday night. They need to focus their efforts for this game against the Aeros, who have failed to collect a point in only four games of 27 this season. Part of that equation should be the Texas power play. Still highly ranked in the league thanks to a hot start, it has sputtered as of late. The club has failed to register a PPG since their December 3rd game against Charlotte, a streak of 19.
At the same time, once a liability, the penalty kill is humming. Texas was ranked in the bottom 2 for the early season but has now surged to 9th with an 83.5% kill. In their last 50 penalties, they are 92%, contributing to the surge. The Aeros are worse in both categories (18th ranked PK, 20th ranked PP); special teams are where the Stars can really hurt the Aeros.
While Tyler Beskorowany will probably get the start tonight, Jimmy Spratt will have to get one this weekend in all likelihood. There are arguments to be made for both of the next two games. Rochester will be a home game, which is a good place to get your first start. The Americans are in the playoff picture though, so they could be a rough first start. The Rampage are similarly mired with the Stars toward the bottom of the conference. That could be a good start but is on the road. Coach Pyle has a decision to make that isn't an easy one.
Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Vincour, Bachman (callup)
Blog (official): Pilot to Gunner
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @aero_joe (play-by-play)