AHL Preview: Texas Stars vs. Grand Rapids Griffins
The Griffins enter the weekend leading the Midwest Division, helped along by a recent eight-game winning streak, the longest in the AHL this season. The Stars are fourth in the South Division, with eight wins in 17 games.
Grand Rapids took a 4-1 win in Texas in the only meeting between the two teams so far this season, that game marked the first professional contest pitting brothers Brendan Smith of the Griffins and Reilly Smith of the Stars against each other.
The Stars have split goaltending duties between veteran Christopher Nilstorp, who has a 4-6 record, and 2010 first round draft pick Jack Campbell, who has a 4-2-1 record. The Griffins continue to rely on the hot play of Petr Mrazek, who is 6-1 with a 2.53 GAA, while back-up Tom McCollum has a 4-2-1 record with a 2.88 GAA.
Offensively the Stars are led by Cody Eakin, who has scored six goals and has 12 points. Travis Morin (four goals), Tomas Vincour (three goals) and Colton Sceviour (four goals), who have all seen time in Dallas, continue to impress. Rookie Jamie Oleksiak is fifth on the team in scoring with a goal and seven assists. The defense is led by Stars prospect Maxime Fortunus and NHL veteran Cam Barker.
Francis Pare will look to extend a seven-game point streak for the Griffins, while Gustav Nyquist (eight goals, 19 points) and Tomas Tatar (10 goals, 18 points) will also look to continue their hot play. Rookie Tomas Jurco (four goals) continues to improve offensively, while rookie defenseman Chad Billins (16 points) continues to find himself among the league’s top rookies in scoring.
Texas has one of the league’s worst penalty kills (29th, just over 77 percent) while Grand Rapids’ power play unit has scored in seven straight games and is tied for third best in the league, so if the Stars have trouble staying out of the penalty box they could find themselves in trouble this weekend.
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