45-25-3-4, 97 pts
#2 West Division
|v.||San Antonio Rampage|
34-30-5-7, 80 pts
#6 West Division
April 6th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
The Battle of I-35 finally ends tonight. After eleven games, the Stars hold the advantage over the Rampage 7-4 in the season series. With a loss tonight or a Milwaukee win, the Rampage will be officially eliminated from the playoffs.
The two teams last squared off on Friday with Texas defeating San Antonio 4-3 in overtime on Francis Wathier's goal from Aaron Gagnon. In the meantime, Texas lost to Houston on Saturday 3-2, and San Antonio shutout Chicago 3-0 to keep their playoff hopes alive. By the time the puck is dropped tonight in Cedar Park, the Rampage's fate could already be sealed. An afternoon game between the Admirals and Rivermen could see Milwaukee clinch the final playoff spot and lock out the Rampage.
The Rampage are a known quantity for the Stars and Stars fans alike. We know the big players to watch for, including Brett MacLean (30-33-63), Kyle Turris (22-37-59), and Alexandre Picard (26-23-49). Of course, the big bad enforcer type for the Rampage is Francis Lessard, a PIM-piling pugilist, who's racked up 284 PIMs on the season. He is #2 in the league in PIMs and has only played in 57 games. If he had played all 76 Rampage games to this point, he would be over 370 minutes and the far and away leader for the league, besting #1 Zack Fizgerald of the River Rats by over an hour. Whoa.
Josh Tordjman is a likely starter in net. He is fresh off winning the AHL's Man of the Year award. He is 18-20-2 with a 2.97 GAA and .902 SV%. Among active Rampage goaltenders, he is the only one to have played against Texas. Al Montoya is still out with a lower body injury, and Justin Pogge was traded to the River Rats. Backup Miika Wiikman has only played in 5 games for the Rampage, mostly mop-up duty. He has a 2-5-1 record overall, including 7 games in Hartford, but only a 0-1-1 record in San Antonio. Overall, he has a 3.55 GAA and .887 SV%, but his numbers in limited action in San Antonio are considerably better with a 2.42 GAA and .919 SV%.
For Texas, Aaron Gagnon is on fire again. Also, there are considerable injuries to take into account, which are listed below. I feel like a lot of these are the kind of injuries you would play through if you hadn't made the playoffs. However, since the Stars are mostly locked into the #2 seed, you can afford to give your top guys some time for wear and tear recovery. They've earned it. All of the players listed below will be back by the playoffs except Scott McCulloch.
In net for Texas, we have Brent Krahn and Richard Bachman. Krhaner is 17-4-0 in 21 games played with a 1.86 GAA and .943 SV%. Sadly, he has only played 1226 minutes, so he does not appear on the AHL's list of top goaltenders (minimum is 1500). Bachman has been in Texas for 3 games since the call up of Matt Climie to Dallas. Bachman has yet to start a game in this stint in Austin but has accumulated a 3-3-0 record in several previous call-ups with a 2.07 GAA and .927 SV%. Is he ready for the AHL? Yea, I think so. This makes for some hard decisions for the Dallas management that we will discuss over the next few months.
Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (ribs), McCulloch (upper body), Rallo (foot), Sawada (lower body), Beaudoin (lower body), Peters (lower body)
Benn, Climie (call-up)
Blog (unofficial): Rampage with Tony U.