Gameday Preview: Stars v. Lake Erie Monsters

Texas Stars
3-6-0-0, 6 pts
#15 Western Conference
v.Lake Erie Monsters
8-4-0-0, 16 pts
#4 Western Conference
November 10th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Stars have recalled Austin Smith from Idaho. He had 3 goals and 2 assists in the ECHL.

After the Stars last game against the Monsters, it was pretty clear that they had a special team this season. That early premonition has come to fruition as they come back to Texas tonight with an 8-4-0-0 record and in 4th place in the West.

How are they getting it done? They aren't playing lockdown defensive hockey as much as a Milwaukee or Texas teams of past. However, they are getting solid goaltending from rookie Calvin Pickard (2.41 GAA, .926 SV%).

Mostly they have scoring depth and are using that to put the puck int he net. Texas's top scorer, Cody Eakin, has just seven points in nine games. Lake Erie has nine players with seven points or more, including three rookies. Mike Sgarbossa leads the club on offense with 5-6-11, but Thomas Pock is tied with him in point a 3-8-11 as well.

Former Jamie Oleksiak teammate Andrew Agozzino checks in just behind at 6-4-10 with a team-leading plus-9 rating. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.

The Stars need the same scoring depth the Monsters have found in their game. Only two of Texas's skaters have more than one goal on the season (Morin and Eakin). Texas is tied for last in the league in goals scored. Albany, the other club at 16, is also in last place in the East.

It's not like the Stars aren't getting shots; they are. Those shots just aren't quality chances. Last night on the power play opportunities Texas had, they generated just one scoring chance when Reilly Smith missed the open net in the first PP opp.

On the PK, Texas has regressed even further, sliding to 64.9% on the kill, worst in the league. Maxime Fortunus said that the Stars need to take fewer penalties to help their PK. However, the Stars have given their opponents the fewest shorthanded opportunities in the league. Taking penalties is not the problem; killing them off is the problem. Last night there were several times where Texas got the puck on their stick and then failed to clear or cleared the puck directly to a Marlies skater. Take the extra tick to look up and find the open space or send it high off the glass. The PK is not the time to be looking to break out. Clear it, and get the change.

Stars injury/call up report:

Blog (unofficial): Cleveland Plain Dealer
Twitter: @monstershockey