Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Rockford IceHogs, Game 2

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
v.Rockford IceHogs
44-30-3-3, 94 pts
#3 West Division
Stars lead 1-0

April 17th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Last night's game was a great note to start on for the franchise. It was a win that spoke to all of the things we know about Texas Stars hockey: strong defense, solid goaltending, and opportunistic offense. Can the Stars repeat this performance tonight against the IceHogs?

While the Stars did emerge victorious, the IceHogs weren't far behind. The final score was only 2-1. Corey Crawford is a pretty good goalie, but has simply not had luck against the Stars this year. His overall record this season is now 1-4-0 against Texas. Krahn was off the ice first in morning skate and will get the start tonight.

One item that I did not mention in my Game 1 preview was the differences these teams have in power play and penalty kill percentages. Texas ranked #9 on the power play in the regular season at 19.1% and #2 on the penalty kill at 86.4%. Rockford was decent on the penalty kill at #10 with 83.3% but anemic on the power play at #24 with 15.2%. Their road PP percentage was even worse at 13.4%.

Greg Rallo and all of the penalty killers take their role on the team very seriously. "I know a lot of guys, myself included, take a lot of pride in penalty killing," Rallo said. "If you can shutdown a team's power play, a lot of times that will feed some momentum your way. If we can shut down them down 90% of the time, most games you're going to come out on top."

I don't think the impact that Jamie Benn had on last night's game can be overstated. Benn scored one, was on the ice for both Texas goals, had numerous opportunities, and was a thorn in the side of the Hogs all night. Benn's line with Rallo and Gagnon was dynamic on offense and really gives the IceHogs a different look. All three players can take faceoffs, Benn on the left and Gagnon and Rallo on the right.

Kyle Greentree, one of Rockford's leading scorers against the Stars, will be out of the game tonight. He has been suspended for his cross-check on Warren Peters at the end of the third last night. There is some speculation that Ben Smith, who I mentioned in yesterday's game preview, will replace him. Commenting on all the scrums that were in the game, Landon Wilson said, "It's about the bigger picture. We can't get caught up in the scrums after whistles. I know they want to slow the game down a little bit with that and try to get under our skin, but we have to rise above that and be better than that."

The Stars are calling again for a white out, so wear those free shirts from last night if you've got them. The give-away tonight will be rally towels. Just imagine the white out plus all the spinning rally towels. You've gotta love playoff hockey.

Stars injury/call up report:
Beaudoin (lower body)

Website: icehogs.com
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog
Twitter: @goicehogs

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