What's On Tap...A Trio of Games in Texas

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What's on Tap
With a berth in the 2009-10 Calder Cup Playoffs hanging in the balance, the Lake Erie Monsters head to the Lone Star State this weekend for a critical trio of contests. Trailing the Manitoba Moose by seven points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division, the Monsters have their work cut out for them over the final nine games of the 2009-10 regular season.

The weekend kicks off with a game against the Houston Aeros Friday, a team the Monsters have enjoyed success against this year. Posting a 2-1-0-0 record against their West Division foes, the Monsters will face a different team, no doubt, as the last game between the clubs was a 3-1 Monsters win at The Q in early November.

Facing the Aeros, the Monsters go up against a team that is reeling of late, as Houston is 1-5-1-3 in their past 10 games and is currently on a six-game winless streak. Houston’s main issue this year has been scoring, as the team is in the bottom third of the league in total offense, averaging 2.5 goals per game.

While Houston’s offense hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, their team defense has remained solid throughout the season. The Aeros give up an average of less than 26 shots per game to the opponent and their goalies – Anton Khudobin and Wade Dubielewicz – are both in the top 20 in the AHL in GAA.

After Friday’s tilt in Houston, the Monsters travel on to San Antonio for a pair of games against the Rampage. The two games at the AT&T Center mark the final games of a four-contest set against the Rampage in the regular season. Lake Erie is 0-2-0-0 against the Rampage this season, being outscored 9-4 in a pair of losses at The Q.

Much like the Aeros, the Monsters face a Rampage team that is tailing a bit, as San Antonio has gone 0-1-1-1 in their past three games. Also a kin to Lake Erie’s situation, San Antonio is fighting for a playoff spot, as they trail the Milwaukee Admirals by eight points for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division.

Although the Rampage have struggled in inter-division contests – they’re 17-25-4-4 against the West Division – San Antonio is 14-4-0-2 when playing teams in the North. A bright spot for San Antonio has undoubtedly been special teams, as their power play is fifth in the league and the Rampage own the AHL’s ninth-best penalty kill.

Should the Monsters fail to win all three games this weekend, the playoffs will become a destination that will fade fast in the rearview mirror on their 2009-10 season journey that began in mid-September.

This weekend's games and every game this season will be broadcast on the Monsters flagship radio station, ESPN 850 WKNR.  Listen Live on ESPN 850 WKNR | Watch here via AHL Live

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