33-14-4-4, 74 pts
#1 Western Conference
26-17-4-3, 59 pts
#8 Western Conference
March 1st at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
Somehow it's March, and tonight is the very first visit to the Cedar Park Center for the Chicago Wolves. The two clubs battled a fierce seven game series in 2010 to win the then-West Division and since have not played nearly as much. Chicago and Texas will only play four times this season, completing the season series in Texas next Tuesday.
The Stars have split the season so far with the Wolves. In January, Chicago was the club that broke Texas's six game win streak. A 4-1 effort for the Wolves including two Darren Haydar goals ended the Stars streak. Texas then rattled off three more wins, including a 6-4 win over Chicago in the next game just two nights later. The Stars, of course, will hope for a repeat of that second game.
In that regard, they received some assistance from Dallas over the past few days. Cristopher Nilstorp was assigned after Dallas starting goalie Kari Lehtonen returned from injury and played in last night's game against the Oilers. Also returned was winger Matt Fraser. The undrafted prospect tallied his first NHL goal during his callup. There is nothing like a recent callup to re-invigorate a player to show what they can do and make them want to earn another callup. That isn't to say Fraser was lagging at all in the AHL, precisely the opposite, in fact. However, Texas will take any extra oomph they can get with the Dallas Stars calling many of their top talents and injuries claiming others.
Chicago looks to be a team on the bubble if you only see the standings points. If you look at points percentage, the Wolves are doing very well. At .590, they are actually in fifth place in the West but are stuck in eighth due to fewer games played. They will catch up with a busy month of March, playing fifteen games from March 1 to 30. All that starts tonight in Cedar Park.
Former Star Matt Climie has gotten the last eight starts for Chicago and has a 4-2-2 record over that span including two shutouts. Vets Brett Sterling (15-13-28) and Darren Haydar (17-23-40) lead the scoring up front while rookie Brad Hunt (2-21-23) is tops on defense. Hunt is actually only one behind the team lead for defenseman goals at three. The Wolves do not get a lot of goals from their defense, mostly assists. On the other hand, Texas has had a total of 29 goals from their defense.
Stars injury/call up report:
R. Smith, Roussel, Benn, Oleksiak (call up)
Glennie, Nemeth, Sloan, Chiasson, Fortunus, Gazdic (injured)
Twitter: @theshaves (Wolves PxP)