Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Chicago Wolves

Texas Stars
26-22-3-3, 58 pts
#5 Central Division
atChicago Wolves
29-17-5-1, 62 pts
#3 Central Division
February 24th at 3:00 PM
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Note: After this post was authored but before it was set to be published, Dallas acquired Mats Zuccarello and reassigned Joel L'Esperance to Texas. Both teams were on their way to Chicago today, so L'Esperance should be available.

The Texas Stars have lost their two day games in Chicago this season, having improved dramatically in their second bid but still falling to a 3-1 score last week. Perhaps the third time's a charm?

(credit: Texas Stars)
The Stars head into Rosemont to take on the Wolves once again in a Sunday matinee to finish out this four-game road trip. They are coming off a shootout loss to Grand Rapids on Friday while the Wolves have been idle since they last played the Stars. As the season winds down to crunch time, points are becoming a valuable commodity, and head coach Derek Laxdal feels that his team is playing well enough to earn them.

"You know, our guys are battling," he told 100 Degree Hockey on Saturday. "We ground one out last night, guys played their asses off. We had a chance to win in overtime, and we didn't close it out. Grand Rapids is a good team, but I give our guys full grades for the way they played."

Though the Stars ultimately fell in the 4-3 decision, they have to come away from these efforts feeling like they can play with the top teams in the division.

"You talk about the captains and the leadership group--that's where that message gets reinforced the most. When those guys bring it up and they talk about it, because they do. And we know as a coaching staff we can rely on these guys to reinforce the message in all aspects."

That message will need to be lived out against another top team in the division. Two former Stars in Curtis McKenzie and Max Lagace got the better of their old team last week. If the Stars can push through exhaustion to pull out two points in Sunday's tilt, it will give them five total in a meat grinder of a road trip.

"We're finding ways to get points here and there. It's always tough on the road in the second half here. This is where you see your guys take the baby step. Guys like Caamano, Gurianov, and Mascherin, some of your defensemen--Bayreuther. Any time you play these hard games it's only going to help their development."

The puck drops at 3:00 PM CST.

Stars injury/call up report:
Scarlett (season-ending ACL injury)
Markison (lower body)
Laberge (upper body)
Fedun, Hintz, L'Esperance (call up)