Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Rockford IceHogs

Texas Stars
35-29-4-3, 77 pts
#6 Central Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
33-28-4-6, 76 pts
#7 Central Division
April 5th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

(credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
The Texas Stars are dead-locked with Milwaukee and Manitoba for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central division. With five games left to play in the regular season, there are plenty of reasons for optimism. However, the Rockford IceHogs would disagree that this is currently a three-team race. 

As the Stars prepare to take on Rockford in a weekend pair beginning on Friday, the IceHogs are merely one point behind the Stars in the standings and have to be thinking four points on their trip to Cedar Park. They are 6-4-0-0 in their last ten games, identical to Texas's record. To say that these games could make or break a playoff bid for the Stars is an understatement. 

The IceHogs have been buoyed all season long by a top goaltending tandem in Collin Delia and Anton Forsberg. Though they have a putrid power play, their penalty kill unit is top ten in the AHL. The formula to beat them is simple: outplay Delia or Forsberg and the Stars will win. 

On the prospect front, the Stars now possess and intriguing crop of young centers that all figure to see time in the last several games. Riley Damiani has come over from the Kitchener Rangers and could get a look in the lineup on Friday. That would give the Stars an astounding four rookie centers down the middle. But this is what they've come to expect, given that these youngsters have been at the forefront of this playoff push. 

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.  

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