Gameday Preview: Stars at Toronto Marlies

Texas Stars
10-8-8-0, 28 pts
#11 Western Conference
atToronto Marlies
10-14-3-0, 23 pts
#12 Western Conference
December 20th at 2:00 PM
Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, ON

The 3-in-3 continues in Toronto with an early game, especially for a Saturday. Might have something to do with the Maple Leafs home game tonight at the Air Canada Centre. Just a guess.

Last night's first period was exactly how Texas wants to play hockey. Last night's second and third periods saw those early gains disappear and ultimately come undone in overtime. It's not precisely clear why the Stars have had so much troubling closing out games, but it is clear that it's a going concern for the team. Texas has eight OT losses on the season, leading the AHL. The next closest clubs have five each (STJ and HAM). The standings are pretty tight and a 2-8 record past sixty isn't helping. If Texas can convert half of those losses to wins, that's four points. Ignoring their opponents not earning a point, just earning the four points themselves would vault them from 11th place to 6th in the West.

The good news for the Stars right now is that they are in the pack of teams on the playoff bubble. Just three points separate 6th place Chicago from 11th place Texas. Toronto, today's opponent, is five points back from the Stars but just one place behind them in the standings. They are at the top of the 'third grouping' of teams in the West and look more likely each day to not make the playoffs. Charlotte, Rochester and Iowa round out the group.

Note that Dallas assigned Curtis McKenzie to Texas after their game against Calgary tonight. With the early start, he may not make the game in Toronto today.

Stars injury/call up report:
Morin, Rynnas, Jokipakka (call up)
Troock (injury)
Valentine (lower body)

Blog (official): Marlies Blog
Play by play voice: @HockeyCrock
Twitter: @TorontoMarlies