The Minnesota Stars are stuck in a rut. Take your pick of the streaks they're on - all of which they'd like to break, because none of them are good:
- Nine matches without a win
- Four consecutive draws
- Nine matches without scoring more than one goal
- Four one-goal halftime leads blown in a row
Tonight, the Stars take on Puerto Rico in the fourth game of a four-game homestand. Each of the first three games on the homestand has gone the exact same way: an early goal for Minnesota and a 1-0 halftime lead, followed by a gradual loss of organization in the second half and an equalizer by the road team in the last quarter of the match. In fact, I've already written a few headlines for tonight's recap:
- Stars Allow Late Goal, Draw 1-1 With Puerto Rico
- Missed Chances Doom Stars To Yet Another Draw
- Imperfect 10: Draw Stretches Stars Winless Streak To Double Figures
On the bright side, a draw would be more or less enough to clinch a playoff spot for Minnesota. A win would clinch a playoff spot outright, but one point from the match tonight would put the Stars nine points clear of Edmonton and Atlanta for the final spot. Those two teams have three games remaining, and so while it's conceivable that one of the two could win all three games AND have the Stars lose both remaining games AND overturn the overall goal difference that is the first tiebreaker... it's very unlikely.
Puerto Rico, meanwhile, sits third in the league, three points behind second-place Tampa Bay, still hopeful of overtaking the Rowdies for second place and getting the all-important first-round playoff bye that comes with a top-two finish. The Islanders, however, are stuck in a rut of their own - five games winless, a streak in which the team has managed just two goals.
Game time is 7:30, at NSC Stadium in Blaine. It's the final home game of the 2012 season for Minnesota.
Except, of course, for the possibility of home matches in the playoffs.