Gameday Preview: Stars at Toronto Marlies

Texas Stars
9-5-2-0, 20 pts
#4 Western Conference
atToronto Marlies
7-6-1-0, 15 pts
#10 Western Conference
November 17th at 4:00 PM
Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, ON

It's too bad that the Texas Stars and Toronto Marlies only get one matchup in each city each season. If nothing else, it would bring a lot of ex-pat fans to the Cedar Park Center to see the future of the Maple Leafs. I digress. Today's game is in Toronto and features a Marlies team in the unfamiliar position of a non-playoff team as things sit today. Toronto is in 10th place today after two straight years of sitting near the top of the standings at years end.

Surely roster turnover is a part of that; it always is. However, one of the biggest losses for the organization will not show up on the scoresheet explicitly. Dallas Eakins, former head coach of the Marlies, is now the bench boss in Edmonton. He was highly sought after due to his success in the American League and Edmonton poached him to put some fire and work ethic into their young crew of talented players. The Marlies are now headed by Steve Spott, former coach of the OHL's Kitchener Rangers (Radek Faksa's junior club).

Spott has been graced by some exceptional individual efforts this season. T.J. Brennan and Travis Morin were neck and neck in the early season for the scoring race. That is made more impressive knowing that Brennan is a defenseman. He is 10-9-19. Spencer Abbott has caught up to him and is now 1-18-19. Others to note include vet John-Michael Liles (2-5-7) and rookie Sam Carrick (1-3-4, plus-6).

With that many points, why are the Marlies out of the playoffs? Is it goaltending? Drew McIntyre is their main man, playing in 11 games this season and sporting a 7-4 record with a 2.27 GAA. Rookie Garrett Sparks is 0-2 with a 4.10 GAA. McIntyre's numbers are not horrible; it's just been bad luck. The Marlies have allowed a lot of goals in games where they score a lot and then not been able to score in games where their goalies perform well. That's a bad numbers game.

In their only game in Toronto this regular season, the Texas Stars hope to eat up Toronto and continue to crack down on some of the bad penalties they have been taking over the past week. Last night's two penalty performance was a step in the right direction.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin (callup)
Campbell, Nemeth, Fortunus (injury)

Blog (official): Bart's Bytes
Twitter: @TorontoMarlies