Gameday Preview: Texas Stars at Manitoba Moose

Texas Stars
30-25-4-3, 67 pts
#4 Central Division
atManitoba Moose
29-26-3-2, 63 pts
#7 Central Division
March 13th at 7:00 PM
Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, MB

Four huge points this past weekend against San Antonio put distance between Texas and the rest of the field in the divisional playoff race. The final visit of the season to Manitoba will provide an opportunity for more distance.

"We try to move up in the standings," said Coach Laxdal after Sunday's win as to what the next month brings. "If you look at our division, there’s three teams that have pretty much run away and they’re probably going to get in. It’s four teams battling for that last spot."

(Credit: Texas Stars)
The players echo the sentiment with Nick Caamano added, "It’s crunch time. We’re even with a bunch of teams. Every game matters, and when we go on the road, those are big points for us. We can’t really take those games off, and I think it’s huge for us."

Texas heads to Winnipeg as the Moose are winners in their last two as well and 5-5 in their last ten. Their late season surge has put them in the conversation to be the last team into the playoffs. They are four points back of Texas, but they have games in hand on everyone in the race. The gap could close very quickly, so the Stars have to play their best hockey of the year right now.

"This is the best time of the year," said Texas defenseman Niklas Hansson. "We’re fighting for a playoff spot right now, and it’s tight in the standings. Every game means something big. I think we have a good feeling [in the dressing room]. We’re just trying to be positive and working hard every day."

Texas needs to bank points this week because even coming home next week, it's a brutal slate. The Stars play in Rockford on Sunday and come home to a pair against second-place Grand Rapids interrupted by another against division-leading Chicago.

As a saving grace, after this road trip, Texas will only have three remaining road games, including one in San Antonio, which is just a bus trip away. Eight home games will remain on the schedule. Time to buckle up.

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