26-11-2-3, 57 pts
#2 Western Conference
|v.||Grand Rapids Griffins|
27-11-1-2, 57 pts
#1 Western Conference
January 24th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
Here it is. Thanks to the Stars' win the other night, Grand Rapids and Texas are tied at 57 points atop the Western Conference. Tonight's game will, at least for one night, decide the top spot in the Conference.
The Stars will face the reigning Calder Cup champs hobbled across their lineup. The club had just one injury last time these two faced; that was Jack Campbell. The second-year goalie is still injured, but the list now includes goalie Cristopher Nilstorp, which puts Texas in the position of playing Josh Robinson and, potentially, Pat Nagle in back-to-back games against the best in the West.
Add to that pair the defense of Jokipakka and Nemeth. The two European blue liners won't be in the lineup tonight and perhaps not for a while. Nemeth is still recovering from surgery and Jokipakka is skating in a red no-contact jersey in practice this morning. Brett Ritchie and Taylor Vause are also out at the forward position. It's gotten to hamstrung that the Stars are playing Ryan Button, a defenseman, as a fourth-line winger.
The Griffins do not have any skaters in the top 20 of scorers in the league. Their highest is point-per-game Tomas Jurco. He is currently on recall to Detroit though. They are spreading the scoring around as they rank third in the league in goals per game (3.39). Texas is tops at 3.67.
One big way they are getting things done is thanks to solid goalie play. Petr Mrazek has been on recall to Detroit for much of the season and the workload has fallen to Tom McCollum, who is 17-8-1 with a 2.11 GAA and .928 SV%. He's tied for second most wins in the league and has the fourth best goals against. Overall, GRG has the best goals against in the league as a team, allowing just 2.27 per game. Texas is lower, ranked 13th with 2.74.
Grand Rapids is third in the league on power play at home behind Texas and Abbotsford. On the road, they are 21st overall, however. Their road PK makes up for it at 88.5%, second in the league.
Stars injury/call up report:
Nemeth, Campbell, Ritchie, Jokipakka, Vause, Nilstorp (injury)
Blog: Griffins Hockey on MLive.com