Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Chicago Wolves, Game 2

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
atChicago Wolves
49-24-1-6, 105 pts
#1 West Division
Stars lead 1-0

May 2nd at 3:00 PM
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

The Chicago Wolves and Texas Stars face off for Game 2 of their division final series in a matinée game this afternoon. Fresh off their 4-3 OT win on Friday, the Stars look to put a stranglehold on the series with a second win on the road against the top-seeded team in the division. If Texas can take the series back to Cedar Park with a 2-0 series lead, that would be monumentous.

Texas has yet to play an afternoon playoff game. The Stars played 12 afternoon games (games starting before 6:00 PM local time) on the season and went 6-6-0-0. The Wolves played 16 afternoon games, including two 11 AM games, and went 13-3 on the season. The Wolves were 10-2-0-0 at home in afternoon games as well. Texas has a 5-5 road record in matinée games and a 1-1 record against the Wolves in afternoon matchups.

Through the course of the season, we learned that the Stars were an 'opportunistic offense', a term that we used a lot around here to describe the goal scoring or sometimes lack thereof for the Stars. My heart wants to say that the Stars need to make sure that they lock down their defensive game moving forward in this series because they can't keep up with the goal scoring potential of the Wolves. And surely giving up 3 goals is not something that you can do with regularity and always expect to win. However, the playoffs are a different season. Nothing that we have seen so far has led me to believe that the Stars are having trouble scoring in the playoffs. Thus far, the Stars have never trailed in any of their five playoff games. Has the addition of Jamie Benn and the power of playoff hockey added fuel to the Stars' offensive fire? Perhaps.

Brent Krahn's GAA is no longer the best in the AHL, only the second best behind Jonathan Bernier. With a 1.59 GAA and league-leading .951 SV%, Brent Krahn is peaking at the right time for Texas. The 35 shots that he saw directed at him on Friday was a little more than would probably be ideal. He averaged 31 shots per game in the first series, but a lot of them were low quality opportunities. The Stars need to either limit shots or quality scoring opportunities to keep themselves in the game.

Up front for Texas, the beat goes on for Jamie Benn. With a goal and an assist on Friday, Benn now has 4 goals and 4 assists in 5 games played. He ranks 3rd among all rookies for point scoring and 16th overall in the entire playoffs. As mentioned in Friday's game preview, Jason Krog is a dangerous player for Chicago and definitely one to watch for when his skates hit the ice.

Finally, with regard to home ice advantage, the crowd at Allstate Arena looked pretty paltry. The official attendance was 3,576. In an arena that holds 17,000 fans, does 3,500 even make a tiny ruckus in that big of a space? I don't think the crowd was a factor in Game 1 and if the attendance is similar, it won't be a factor in Game 2 either. Can we please make sure that the crowd is a factor in game 3, 4, and possibly 5?

Stars injury/call up report:
None.

Website: chicagowolves.com
Blog (official): UnMic'd with Jason Shaver
Blog (unofficial): Call of the Wild
Message Board: Wolves Forum
Twitter: @Chicago_Wolves

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