Saturday, May 22, 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Hamilton Bulldogs, Game 5

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
v.Hamilton Bulldogs
52-17-3-8, 115 pts
#1 North Division
Series tied 2-2

May 22nd at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars and Hamilton Bulldogs now face a best of three, essentially, to make it to the Calder Cup Finals. With the series even at two, Hamilton has home ice advantage with Game 6 and a possible Game 7 in Ontario. Coach Gulutzan voiced the urgency of tonight's game, "The next game gets very important, especially when you're the home team with one home game left." The winner of tonight's match returns to Hamilton only needing to win one game to move on to the Calder Cup Finals.

The Stars had 7 power play opportunities in Game 4 and could not score on a single one. In a goalie duel, where offense is at a premium, Texas has to take advantage of the man advantage. Four of those opportunities were in the first period, which would have provided a good early boost to the team's game. "Our power play was very lackluster," agreed Coach Gulutzan, "but Jamie Benn helped us out in overtime."

And how about Jamie Benn? The rookie now leads all players in the postseason in goals (13 G) and is #2 on the points list (21 PTS) behind Chris Bourque of the Hershey Bears (22 PTS). The phenom was responsible for all of Texas's offense last night, despite my proclamation that someone other than Jamie Benn needed to score. The reason why it worked last night was the play of Matt Climie. Climie, who had been dinged for 17 goals against in 6 previous games, allowed just one goal on 27 shots. He improved his GAA to 2.89 from 3.32 and SV% to .906 in just one game. If Climie can show patience with the puck tonight again and keep the plays simple, then he can have success.

The above does assume that Brent Krahn is not ready for action tonight, which remains to be seen. Krahn has been sidelined since May 9th's Game 6 against the Wolves when he suffered a concussion. A concussion is not one of those injuries you rush back from. It is more important to play it safe with Krahn's health. The Stars have found solid netminding in Climie if he can continue his play from last night.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (concussion, gametime decision)
Wilson (unknown)

Website: hamiltonbulldogs.com
Twitter: @dogsplaybyplay

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