Gameday Preview: Stars at Hamilton Bulldogs

Texas Stars
11-8-8-0, 30 pts
#11 Western Conference
atHamilton Bulldogs
13-11-5, 31 pts
#10 Western Conference
December 21st at 2:00 PM
FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, ON

Texas rolls into Hamilton to finish their 3-in-3 weekend against another team just outside the playoff picture. The Bulldogs have one more point than the Stars and sit in 10th place. The Dogs also have the advantage of having played two more games than the visiting Stars. Today's game represents a chance to directly gain ground on a team that Texas will have to scrape and claw against to make it back to the postseason.

Despite what it might feel like, the Stars are very close to the playoff race here. Yesterday's two points were good, but everyone else around them also picked up their two points. Yesterday, 30 points would have been good for a playoff spot. Today, a win and 32 points overall would put the Stars in 6th place heading into the Christmas break. In fact, with two points tomorrow, the Stars are a good bet to hit the holiday gap with at least eighth place. Chicago and Milwaukee also play today, but the wild card is that Chicago and Grand Rapids play each other on Monday. Ending the 3-in-3 in playoff position would have to be a win for Laxdal's squad.

Dallas was saavy to send Curtis McKenzie down to the Texas Stars before the holiday roster freeze. He didn't make it to Toronto in time for yesterday's game, but he will be with the team for today's game. Other items to watch include Brett Ritchie's presence in the lineup. The Stars dressed seven defensemen yesterday, including newcomer Matt Mangene, and did not dress Ritchie.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Jokipakka (call up)
Troock (injury)

Twitter: @dogsplaybyplay