Gameday Preview: Stars v. San Antonio Rampage

Texas Stars
18-15-9-0, 45 pts
#10 Western Conference
v.San Antonio Rampage
23-14-4-0, 50 pts
#5 Western Conference
January 29th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

UPDATE: Center Taylor Peters has been assigned to Idaho.

Welcome to the other half of the season. We're post All-Star break in central Texas and the two teams based in the Lone Star State will face off four times in the coming six games. San Antonio has had a pretty good season up until now and is battling for home ice advantage. They currently sit in fifth place by standings and points percentage. The Stars are battling for a spot in the playoffs themselves. These games against their closest geographic rival are all four-points games, as they say.

Is it too melodramatic to say this homestand is the key to the season? If not, certainly the month of February will decide the Stars playoff fate. If you peek ahead on the schedule, the Stars play five of the next six at home. Then they hit the road for a six game set that spans Iowa, the Northeast and OKC. They will play at home on February 10th and not again until the 27th. That game on the 27th will kickoff a season-long seven game homestand.

If Texas can't keep up a better than .500 points percentage through February, that homestand might not matter. If they can though, the homestand in March will be the chance to 'snap it off' and finish the fight strong. Granted, there will be plenty of hockey to play after March 17th, but Texas has a chance to make their playoff fate a foregone conclusion (in either direction) between now and then.

You have to win home games to have success in the league. The road is a toss-up and the Stars need to bank point here tonight and over the coming two weeks to save up for the harsh 'winter' that will be mid-February. One saving grace on the roadie is the opponent mix, which features four games against teams that should be at or below the Stars in the standings.

So, long story short: win tonight and make February easier on yourself.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ritchie (call up)
Morin (questionable)
Henderson (injury, upper body)
Faksa (injury, out for season)

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