Gameday Preview: Stars at Houston Aeros

Texas Stars
12-14-0-1, 25 pts
#14 Western Conference
atHouston Aeros
16-5-2-7, 41 pts
#4 Western Conference
December 21st at 7:05 PM
Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Tonight the Stars travel to Houston to face the Aeros yet again for the 7th meeting this season. Texas will face defending Western Conference champion Houston 12 times on the year, a present from the AHL schedulers to Stars fans. I guess fans have been naughty.

Texas is 2-4-0-0 against the Aeros this season as they continue their dominance in the West Division. Only OKC has more points than the Aeros this season (44), yet the Aeros are ranked #4 in the conference due to divisional seeding rules. This is a very good team.

Additionally, it is a team that is finding ways to win despite massive numbers of callups to the NHL. Matt Hackett has been superb behind the pipes at 10-4-3. The only weakness in Houston's game is their record past sixty minutes. Houston is 0-for-7 in the shootout. If Texas can get that far, they have a shot. Also, each team has a very good record when leading after two. Shut it down and head home after 40 between these two teams.

Captain Jon DiSalvatore leads the way with 10-14-24. Jeff Taffe isn't far behind at 5-16-21. The Aeros come into tonight's game on a two game losing streak, dropping an SOL to OKC on Saturday and a regulation loss to Rochester on Sunday. Until the most recent game for these two teams, the away club had won each time. Texas hopes to reinvigorate that trend with tonight's game.

Keys to game will be winning each shift. Texas has to take it one shift at a time against such a talented team. In addition, if early or "bad" goals do happen, they need to rally together as a group, forget about it and move on. This team has had a tendency, self-admitted, to get down on themselves when they fall behind by one or two early and take themselves out of the game mentally through that. Maturing as a team will be a key element to beating a playoff-hardened Houston roster.

Stars injury/call up report:
Larsen, Vincour, Bachman (callup)
Sawada (injury)

Blog (official): Pilot to Gunner
Blog (unofficial): The Third Intermission
Twitter: @Houston_Aeros
Twitter: @aero_joe (play-by-play)