Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
6-4-4-0, 16 pts
#8 Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
10-6-0-0, 20 pts
#3 Western Conference
November 21st at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Stars return home after dropping their last four straight games to face the division-leading San Antonio Rampage. No, that can't be right. Let me check the standings. No, OK, I guess so. The usually woebegone Rampage are tops in the West Division right now with no sign of stopping. It is beginning to look like the division crown is going to be a dogfight. By the end of the weekend, Texas could be tied with San Antonio on points if they are able to claim both games in this home-and-home set.

For San Antonio, it's well documented that the Cedar Park Center is a house of horrors. In five years of regular season games, the Rampage have just seven wins. Of course, there are some other factors at play here tonight. While Texas is on a four game losing skid, the Rampage are on a five game winning streak that has seen them pick up important points against division rivals OKC and Charlotte.

Michael Houser and Dan Ellis had been alternating starts for San Antonio until Ellis caught fire in the last streak. Ellis has six of the team's ten wins and a 2.45 GAA. Some of the top young talent for San Antonio is in Florida now, including Vincent Trocheck and Rocco Grimaldi. AHL vet Bobby Butler has 17 points on the season and leads the team in scoring.

On the Texas side, Derek Laxdal has just 12 forwards at his disposal right now. With Kevin Henderson and Brett Ritchie under the weather with the flu bug going through the room, Ludwig Karlsson looks all but certain to play his first AHL game with Texas tonight. In net, it figures to be Jack Campbell. Jussi Rynnas is among the flu-affected and probably wouldn't start if he even dresses.

On defense, it seems likely that Scott Valentine will play his first AHL game not in a Milwaukee uniform. The vet blue liner signed a deal with the Stars this week after Kevin Connauton was claimed on waivers. It seems he will slide ahead of Mike Dalhuisen and be in the lineup for the foreseeable future.

Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.
Blog (unofficial): Runnin' With The Herd
Twitter: @SARampage
Twitter: @DanWeissPBP (play-by-play for SA)