33-16-4-6, 76 pts
#1 Western Conference
28-25-3-6, 65 pts
#8 Western Conference
March 13th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
With both Charlotte and Texas in action tonight, the Stars have a chance to be surpassed be the Checkers for the top spot in the West ahead of going out to play them directly for two games this weekend.
Abbotsford stands between the two clubs for the moment, the last game of a disappointing home stand. The Stars have garnered only two points in four games but have held on barely to their first place ranking. Their lead evaporated with Charlotte only a single point behind them for the lead. If Charlotte wins tonight and Texas loses, the Stars will drop to fourth place, due to divisional ranking rules.
The Stars got healthy on Saturday with the return of Scott Glennie and Maxime Fortunus. That led to the release of Doug Jones and Jacob Johnston. Jones scored his first AHL goal while in Texas and will probably continue to play elsewhere in the AHL at some point in his career. Texas really needs Patrik Nemeth to return in order to solidify a defensive grouping that has been in constant flux since last month.
The Stars are glad to have Matt Fraser back. He has very quietly, it seems, been having a standout season. While his goal totals aren't as eye-popping due to the expectations from last season, his defensive play is stellar now. He is often the first back on the backcheck and is second on the team in forward plus-minus at plus-12. Anyone who still criticizes his defensive play has not been paying much attention this season.
As to the Heat, they come in having dropped precipitously in the standings. After Barry Brust and Danny Taylor had them flying high in the early season, Abbotsford has earned only six points in the last month (2-9-2). In those games, they have scored one or zero goals eight times. They just can't score right now. That's good news for Texas because the goaltending for the Stars has been uneven during the homestand. After Jack Campbell's amazing February campaign, Texas has allowed four goals in each of their last three games. That is not how you win hockey games and hold onto the top spot.
Texas will look to close the home stand with a big victory to send them out against the competitive Checkers on a high note.
Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak, Vincour (call up)
Nemeth, Gazdic, Dowling (injured)
Blog (unofficial): BC Local News: Abby News
Newspaper: Abbotsford Times
Twitter (play-by-play): @RyanPinder