What's On Tap...Two Against Texas

Labatt Blue
What's on Tap
For the first time in their franchise’s history, the Texas Stars will pay a visit to Cleveland this weekend for a pair of games at Quicken Loans Arena against the Monsters. The teams will meet twice in two days – with games scheduled for Friday night and Saturday afternoon – in what will be the third and fourth regular season meetings between the clubs this year. This weekend’s games are the final contests between Texas and Lake Erie in the 2009-10 regular season.

In late October, the Monsters and Stars split a pair of games over the course of a three-game Texas road trip for Lake Erie. The first game against the Stars – October 20th at Cedar Park Center – saw the Monsters earn their first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win. Rookie goalie Trevor Cann posted his first shutout as a professional, making 24 saves, while the team received its scoring from Darren Haydar, Phil Dupuis, Chris Durno and Kevin Montgomery. But the Stars got their retribution just three days later on October 23rd in a 5-3 win. The game was the final one on Lake Erie’s brief southern tour and was the final visit of the season to the Cedar Park Center for the Monsters.

With the games this weekend, the Monsters face a Texas team that, once taking the lead, usually takes the game. The Stars are 17-3-1-1 when scoring first, 20-1-1-0 when ahead after the second period, and are an unblemished 10-0-0-0 when leading after the first 40 minutes on the road. The Stars ability to keep a lead is due in large part to the team’s defense. Yielding just 2.3 goals per game, Texas owns the AHL’s third-best defense. And the Monsters will be even more hard pressed to earn chances on the man advantage as the Stars 13 penalty minutes per game average makes them the second-least penalized team in the league.

If Lake Erie is to penetrate the Texas defense, the scorer’s sheet will most likely have Ryan Stoa’s name on it. With 18 tallies this season, Stoa not only leads the Monsters in goals, but he paces the entire rookie crop in the AHL. Stoa’s nine power play goals are also best among the league’s first-year players and the former Minnesota Golden Gopher is fourth among rookies with 14 power play points and a 19.8 percent shooting percentage.

A point of exploitation for the Monsters could also be entering the shootout in either game this weekend against the Stars. Texas is 1-4 in the shootout, owns the AHL’s lowest shootout scoring conversion rate at a 17.4 percent, and the team has scored just four shootout goals in five shootout contests. To add to their shootout woes, Texas goalie Matt Climie is tied for second in the AHL with three shootout losses. The Stars are also winless in their past three road games and are 3-5-0-2 in their past 10.

The puck drops Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (216) 420-0000, by visiting LakeErieMonsters.com or by visiting any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart.

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