Gameday Preview: Stars v. Charlotte Checkers

Texas Stars
9-11-0-1, 19 pts
#13 Western Conference
v.Charlotte Checkers
15-8-1-1, 32 pts
#2 Western Conference
December 9th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars are back in action tonight at the Cedar Park Center against a familiar foe for them, the Charlotte Checkers. Texas has faced the Checkers in their last two games, both in Charlotte, and earned a split on the road. The Checkers meanwhile, stayed in North Carolina for a few more days and played two more against Lake Erie before heading to Texas.

The biggest news for the Checkers over the last six days was the recall of half of their dynamic goalie tandem to Carolina. Mike Murphy got the call on Tuesday and even got eight minutes of gametime, ignominiously being the first goalie in history to collect a loss despite not allowing a goal against. The Checkers called up John Muse from Florida (ECHL). Expect to see Justin Peters (6-4-1, 2.32 GAA, .928SV%) in net though. The Stars beat Peters in their last game and he lost against Lake Erie on Monday as well.

So how did the Stars beat Charlotte in their last game? For one, the power play started clicking again. Texas had been held to a 3/24 (12.5%) power play efficiency over the previous five games, including three total blankings. The Stars need their power play to work for the team to win. That much has been shown. On the season, Texas is 34.8% (16/46) on the power play in wins and just 17.5% (11/63) in losses. When the PP clicks, they win.

The ominous cloud in the room is the home losing streak that the Stars have been enduring. Texas has not posted a home W in over a month, going 0-4-1 in that stretch, last winning against Toronto in OT on November 3rd. Texas also only has one regulation win at home, coming in their first game a 7-0 blowout of the Barons. Further more, Texas is 3-6-0-1 overall at home but 6-5-0-0 on the road. If you flip two or three of those home Ls to Ws, suddenly Texas is in the top eight in the league. The home slide has to stop to keep this team afloat in the West.

Emerging offensive play from Jordie Benn has buoyed the Stars despite the loss of power play QB, Philip Larsen. The return of Matt Fraser to the scoresheet after an eight-game cold streak can only help matters as well. The rookie still leads first year scoring for the Stars and ranks #14 in the league.

With six days rest coming into the weekend, expect Beskorowany to start both of these games. They are important contests against the #2 and #1 teams in the conference.

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

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Blog (unofficial): Chasing Checkers
Twitter: @checkershockey
Twitter: @mikelappan (PR)