46-25-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
43-29-3-3, 92 pts
#3 West Division
April 9th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
The Texas Stars and Rockford IceHogs tangle for the last time this season in what could end up being a playoff preview. It doesn't feel like we've previewed Rockford games a lot here and perhaps that is true. The IceHogs games this year were heavily front and back loaded on the schedule. The Stars and IceHogs played five times between November 13th and December 12th (before I started the blog) and then didn't face off again until March 5th. The Stars have only suffered one loss at the hands of the IceHogs, a 3-2 loss at Cedar Park Center on December 12th. Richard Bachman took the loss in the contest.
Texas and Rockford last played at the MetroCentre in the first game of Texas's seven game road trip through mid-March. Since then, Texas is 7-2-0-0 and Rockford is 3-2-0-0. Rockford's season was a little heavy on games at the beginning of the season so they didn't have as far to go to make it to 80 before this Sunday. You'll surely remember the playoff picture talk earlier where Texas consistently trailed Rockford by a few points but had as many as four games in hand over the Hogs.
The Hogs are led on offense by Mark Cullen with 50 points (19-31-50). Cullen has 6 points in five games against Texas. The IceHogs leading goal scorer is Kyle Greentree with 24 goals and 44 points total. Greentree only has 3 points against five games against Texas.
In net for the IceHogs, Corey Crawford and Hannu Toivonen split time. Crawford is 23-16-2 in 44 games played with 2.71 GAA and .907 SV%. He has an 0-3 record against the Stars and has allowed 10 goals in the three games. Joe Fallon, who now tends net for the Rivermen, has started the most games for the IceHogs against Texas. Hannu Toivonen is 12-14-3 with 2.81 GAA and .904 SV% on the season. Specifically in Rockford, he has only seen action in five games, going 1-3-0 with 3.27 GAA and .892 SV%. Against Texas in Peoria, he was 2-1-1. Joe Palmer, from the Texas Brahmas of the CHL, was also just recalled to Rockford. He has never played in a game at the AHL level. Palmer played with Stars forward Mathieu Beaudoin at Ohio State University in the 2006-07 season.
For Texas, their fate is mostly sealed. It is possible that Chicago could lose their last two and Texas could win their last two, but do we even want that? Of course we want Texas to win their last two games, but the ideal situation for Texas obviously involves the Stars playing the IceHogs in the first round. Texas's record against Milwaukee of 5-3-0-0 is nothing to sneeze at, but the record against Rockford is even better at 6-1. Additionally, Texas has never lost in Rockford.
Tonight the Stars will probably not have as many of the top familiar players in the game. They will be getting well-deserved rest before the playoffs start. Aaron Gagnon will be back from Dallas. I'm thinking perhaps Matt Climie gets the start, but again, I don't like predicting such things. My logic there is of course that we want Krahn fresh for the playoffs. Texas already hinted that they are resting him as much as possible with the replacement of him with Bachman in the 2nd of Tuesday's game. Maybe Krahn doesn't even dress for tonight's game, since Bachman and Climie are both in town. We will see.
Stars injury/call up report:
McCulloch (upper body), Rallo (foot), Sawada (lower body), Beaudoin (lower body), Peters (lower body)
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog