Gameday Preview: Stars at Hamilton Bulldogs

Texas Stars
27-12-4-3, 61 pts
#1 Western Conference
atHamilton Bulldogs
15-24-1-5, 36 pts
#15 Western Conference
February 9th at 6:00 PM
Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON

UPDATE: Dallas has assigned Antoine Roussel to Texas, and he is expected to play tonight against Hamilton.

The last time these two clubs met it was not a happy occasion for either. It was a matchup between the two worst teams in the league. On March 29th of last season, the 15th place Stars hosted the 14th place Bulldogs. In fact, the Stars had only two more wins at that point in the season than they do today on February 9th.

What a difference a year makes. The Stars are in high-gear despite a lot of changes and are looking to get back in the groove of things after the All-Star break. With a poor team outing on Tuesday, Francis Wathier commented that the club was looking forward to actually having a few games in a row here. With only two games in the last thirteen days, they felt they were getting a little out of sync.

Coach Desjardins agreed, "We've got to get into a groove. We haven't played much lately. There's lots of things we haven't done and haven't been doing. We need to play four lines. When we're successful, we play four lines."

Desjardins was of course alluding to the surprise scratch of Luke Gazdic last Tuesday. Gazdic had apparently been playing through an injury due to a blocked shot, but Coach Desjardins expected him to come back quickly. Note that the return of Roussel may mean the Stars don't have to rush Gazdic's return.

On the Hamilton side, things aren't so rosy. The Bulldogs are in last place in the conference by eight points. They ranked last in the league on goals for (2.18) and second to last in goals against (3.25). They are led on offense by Gabriel Dumont (15-12-27 in 42 GP). Cedric Desjardins and Robert Mayer split time in net for the club. Both have GAAs over 2.80 and save percentages under .905.

Despite all this, the Bulldogs are 5-1 against the Stars all-time in the regular season. Don't count this club out. That said, if the Stars lose to the Bulldogs, that will mean they will have lost to the 14th and 15th place teams in the league in successive games. That might be cause for alarm, but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

Stars injury/call up report:
Glennie (hand)
Gazdic (lower body, questionable)
Vincour, Oleksiak, Roussel, R. Smith (call up)

Twitter: @dogsplaybyplay