Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wathier signed to 2-year extension

The Dallas Stars announced today that they have resigned winger Francis Wathier to a two-year, two-way contract. With Krys Barch also resigned, I'm not sure how often Wathier gets callups. Many in Dallas thought that Wathier might be a better option than Krys Barch because of his ability to play more minutes in different situations (PK and even). Barch only averages 7 minutes a game. Here are the details:
Nieuwendyk also announced today that the club has signed right wing Francis Wathier to a two-year, two-way contract extension. This extension puts Wathier under contract through the 2011-12 season.

Wathier, 25, made his NHL debut with Dallas last season, recording four shots and five penalty minutes in five games with the Stars. He spent the majority of 2009-10 with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL), skating in 76 games and collecting 40 points (19g, 21a) with 101 penalty minutes. The St. Isidore, Ontario native also played 24 playoff games with Texas, tallying eight points (2g, 6a).

The 6-4, 208-pound left wing has played in 240 career AHL games and has scored 41 goals and 38 assists with 349 penalty minutes. Wathier was drafted in the sixth round (185th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stars announce Development Camp Roster, Schedule

The Dallas Stars announced the roster and schedule for their annual development camp. Many Texas Stars will make the trip to Dallas for the week long event beginning July 1, including Luke Gazdic, Colton Sceviour, and Mathieu Tousignant. Other highlights include 2010-11 Texas Stars Tomas Vincour, Ondrej Roman, Philip Larsen, and Tyler Beskorowany. The Stars 1st round pick in the draft, goaltender Jack Campbell, will also be in attendance along with the Stars 2009 1st round pick, Scott Glennie.

Here's the release: Stars 2010 Development Camp On Tap

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Climie likely to test free agent waters

Goaltender Matt Climie in Game 7 versus the Chicago Wolves

Fan-favorite Matt Climie looks to be closer and closer to testing the free agent waters. Climie's agent, Scott Norton, had the following to say about negotiations thus far.
"At this point, I believe that Matt will wait for July 1 and test free agency. He would like to remain with Dallas, but to this point talks have not lead us to that."
It seems like with Brent Krahn signing a two-way contract and Climie desiring a one-way, number 33 has been squeezed out of the equation in Dallas. With a deep post-season run on his resume, Climie will have the ability to demand some free agent interest. The question is how much.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Contracts, Contracts, Contracts: Looking Ahead to 2010-11

Looking ahead to the next year in the AHL is always a murky prospect with regard to players. There are some things we know for sure though that we can share. With free agency coming in a few days (July 1), it's important to take a look at this information now.

First, we'll take a look at all of the players who are under contract to Dallas and are on two-way contracts. I've only included the players likely to play in Texas or Idaho next year. Some of these players might make it to the NHL out of camp next year.
  • Tyler Beskorowany (G)
  • Richard Bachman (G)
  • Brent Krahn (G)
  • Sergei Korostin (RW)
  • Colton Sceviour (RW)
  • Ondrej Roman (C)
  • Luke Gazdic (LW)
  • Mathieu Tousignant (C)
  • Andrew Hutchinson (D)
  • Michael Neal (LW)
  • Tristan King (C)
  • Hubert Labrie (D)
  • Guillaume Monast (D)
  • Philip Larsen (D)
  • Tomas Vincour (RW)

Next, there are several players who are going to be unrestricted free agents on July 1 unless they re-sign with Dallas. On July 1, these players are free to sign with any team in the NHL. Until then, Dallas has exclusive negotiation rights with these players.
  • Matt Climie (G)
  • Dan Jancevski (D)
  • Warren Peters (C)
  • Francis Wathier (LW)
  • Garrett Stafford (D)

The following players are restricted free agents (RFAs). The current contract holder for restricted free agents has the 'first right of refusal' to signing them. Players are extended qualifying offers by the club if the club wants to re-sign them. Players not extended qualifying offers become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Other teams can put down offer sheets on RFAs (contract terms), but the player's current team always has the right to match the offer sheet. If the current club decides not to match the offer sheet on a player and they go to the other club, the player's current club gets compensation in the form of draft picks. The picks are given out according to the value of the contract as setup in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. All of these players have been extended qualifying offers except for Tyler Shelast.
  • Raymond Sawada (RW)
  • Perttu Lindgren (C)
  • Aaron Gagnon (C)
  • Maxime Fortunus (D)
  • Trevor Ludwig (D)
  • Tyler Shelast (F) (not extended qualifying offer)

Finally, there are those players under contract in the AHL and not the NHL. According to my sources, the Texas Stars had no players on contracts longer than one year. Therefore, all of these players are free to sign anywhere in the AHL (or NHL) on July 1. This strategy makes sense in the AHL because you are not in full control of your personnel year-to-year; it's up to the big club to decide who comes to the minors. All of these players could come back; none of them could come back. Given the number of forwards coming in from juniors next year, I think Texas might not need as many AHL contracted forwards.
  • Travis Morin (F)
  • Greg Rallo (F)
  • Cody Chupp (F)
  • Scott McCulloch (LW)
  • Landon Wilson (RW)
  • Mathieu Beaudoin (RW)
  • Ethan Graham (D)
  • Matt Stephenson (D)

What do you think? Who does Texas keep of the AHL guys? Thoughts on the UFAs?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Texas Stars 2009-10 Season Retrospective

This was a season that no Texas Stars fan will ever forget. Let's hope that next season is another unforgettable one, but for now, after a week of letting it percolate, I'd like to look back at the Stars season that was.

Before most of the fans at Cedar Park Center knew where all the bathrooms were, Texas had accumulated a first place ranking in the AHL's West Division. The Stars were going at a blistering pace and this blog wasn't even around yet. Then, the big news item for the first half of the season struck. Texas Stars goaltender Brent Krahn, who was 10-2-0-0 at that point, was taken down with a sports hernia. November 22nd was Krahn's last game until late in the Stars inaugural campaign. With Krahn down, Richard Bachman was called up from the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads. Late in December though, the Stars decided that there needed to be a longer term solution.

The signing of Todd Ford, a goalie out of the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays, was one of the first stories that I reported on here at Hundred Degree Hockey. Well, that and the own goal by Ivan Vishnevskiy in the San Jose game. Brad Lukowich was recalled to Vancouver on the first of January and thus began the doldrums for the Stars this season. During Krahn's injury, the Stars went 18-18-1-2 but managed to hang on to a playoff spot thanks to solid early season play. Texas fell from #1 seed to #4 seed during that period. Krahn returned on March 10th for a home game against the Peoria Rivermen.

One of the biggest stories for the Texas Stars happened during this period. Our young fresh-faced top pair defenseman, Ivan Vishnevskiy, became trade bait and went to the division rival Chicago Wolves in a trade for goaltender Kari Lehtonen to help out the nets in Dallas. I broke down my analysis and feelings on the trade here on Hundred Degree Hockey. It was a big blow for a lot of the community around the Stars, our first big trade. The worries at that point were not having an offensive defenseman, but it seems that veterans like Stafford and Hutchinson stepped into that role nicely. The addition of Ethan Graham late in the season also proved pivotal to playoff success.

From March 10th onward, the Texas Stars went on a run, going 11-5 to finish out the season. Their end of season heroics got the close to the #1 seed, but ultimately they settled for the #2 seed and home ice advantage against the Rockford IceHogs in the first round.

The Stars received a gift package from Dallas in the form of Jamie Benn, who scored 20+ goals in the NHL in this, his rookie season. With the season over in Dallas, Benn was sent down to gain playoff experience. I don't think he anticipated how much playoff experience he would gain exactly.

The Stars made quick work of the Rockford IceHogs, who they had defeated 6 of 8 times in the regular season, with a clean sweep of four games. Brent Krahn backstopped the Stars to victory in all 4 games, neer allowing more than one goal and never allowing a goal in the first or second period. Texas never trailed at any point in the series. The Stars reward for beating the IceHogs: the #1 seeded Wolves.

Texas would not have home-ice advantage for the rest of the playoffs as they went up against the three highest point scoring teams in the league in reverse order. Chicago was on deck first. Texas split the series at Allstate Arena and came home with a 1-1 record. After a disappointing 5-3 loss in Game 3, Texas stormed back in Games 4 and 5 to gain a 3-2 series lead. Game 5 was the biggest game for Jamie Benn in the playoffs. Benn had 5 points in the game, including a hat trick, the first playoff hat trick in Texas Stars history. The series moved back to Chicago with Texas only needing to take 1 of 2 to win. The Stars were shutout in Game 6 and starting keeper Krahn was injured, a concussion. Matt Climie would have to shoulder the load the rest of the way. Game 7 in Chicago put all the chips on the table. Texas, as you all surely know, would win it in overtime off the stick of who else but Jamie Benn.



Next up, Hamilton. With the Montreal Canadiens also enjoying a deep postseason run, the Bulldogs were without some of their upper echelon talent, but seemingly no worse for wear, having made it to the West Conference finals. The Stars dropped Games 1 and 2 in Hamilton and came back to Texas facing a 2-0 deficit in the series. The Stars won back-to-back heartstopping OT games to even the series at 2-2, but then dropped a stinker of a Game 5 3-0 to give the Bulldogs the 3-2 series lead. Texas would have to win both in Hamilton to advance to the Calder Cup Finals. And boy did they. Game 6 was a nailbiter that was won off the stick of Aaron Gagnon. The true Star of the game was Matt Climie though, who stopped 51 of 53 Bulldogs shots to preserve the win. Game 7 saw the Stars in a two goal hole halfway through. Texas would go on to win 4-2 on four unanswered goals from Graham, Beaudoin, Lindgren, and Benn.

And then Hershey. The wounds are still fresh, so we'll be gentle. Plain and simple, Texas had it and saw it slip away. The Hershey Bears, who set more season AHL and franchise records than I care to count, just turned it on and overwhelmed these Texas Stars. After winning both Games 1 and 2 in Hershey, the Stars would not win another. Perhaps the Bears underestimated the Stars, perhaps Texas ran out of gas having played two back-to-back seven game series. The Hershey Bears won their 11th Calder Cup in six games.

And so looking back on the season, it was an amazing journey. What Stars fans have to keep in perspective is that this doesn't happen every season. This was a magical season. Only 16 teams make it into the playoffs, 8 to the 2nd round, 4 to the 3rd, and 2 to the Calder Cup Finals. Two out of 29 teams make it to this place where the Texas Stars went this season. Cherish it.

Most commented posts on HDH this season:
  1. Texas shutout as Wolves win, force Game 7 - 12 comments
  2. Texas Stars shutout Rampage at home, 2-0 - 9 comments
  3. My Message to Everyone Who Wants to Learn to Play Hockey - 9 comments

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

List of 2010-11 AHL/NHL affiliations

With several changes in the AHL this year, here are the expected 2010-11 affiliation agreements as of right now, in alphabetical order by AHL team. Changes are in italics.

Abbotsford Heat - Calgary Flames
Adirondack Phantoms - Philadephia Flyers
Albany Devils - New Jersey Devils
Binghamton Senators - Ottawa Senators
Bridgeport Sound Tigers - New York Islanders
Charlotte Checkers - Carolina Hurricanes
Chicago Wolves - Atlanta Thrashers
Grand Rapids Griffins - Detroit Red Wings
Hamilton Bulldogs - Montreal Canadiens
Hartford Wolf Pack - New York Rangers
Hershey Bears - Washington Capitals
Houston Aeros - Minnesota Wild
Lake Erie Monsters - Colorado Avalanche
Manchester Monarchs - Los Angeles Kings
Manitoba Moose - Vancouver Canucks
Milwaukee Admirals - Nashville Predators
Norfolk Admirals - Tampa Bay Lightning
Oklahoma City Barons - Edmonton Oilers
Peoria Rivermen - St Louis Blues
Portland Pirates - Buffalo Sabres
Providence Bruins - Boston Bruins
Rochester Americans - Florida Panthers
Rockford IceHogs - Chicago Blackhawks
San Antonio Rampage - Phoenix Coyotes
Springfield Falcons - Columbus Blue Jackets
Syracuse Crunch - Anaheim Ducks
Texas Stars - Dallas Stars
Toronto Marlies - Toronto Maple Leafs
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - Pittsburgh Penguins
Worcester Sharks - San Jose Sharks

2010-11 AHL Divisional Alignment Announced

As expected AHL Divisional Alignment was announced today. Only two major changes here. The Lowell Devils moved from the Atlantic Division to the East Division. Also, the new Oklahoma City Barons are part of the now 8-team West Division with Texas. Chances are we'll probably see a rules similar to 2009-2010 for qualification for the playoffs in the West. If the fifth place team in the 8-team division has a higher point total than the 4th place team in the North, then the 5th place team from the West would go to the playoffs instead of the 4th place team in the North. This happened this year when the Bridgeport Sound Tigers replaced the Norfolk Admirals in the East Division playoffs.

Here's the full release: TheAHL.com: 30-team lineup set for 2010-11

Climie "open to further talks" with Stars

Mike Heika has a story up this morning about Dallas's golatending situation, specifically focused on Matt Climie. Heika believes that Climie's strong postseason play could bring him success in the NHL free agent market or in the KHL. Here's the big info from Heika:
Climie's agent Scott Norton still is in talks with the Stars, but while Krahn signed a two-way contract that will allow him to be sent to the minors and make less money there (giving the Stars more options), Climie is looking at a one-way deal in which he will make the same amount whether he is assigned to the minors or not. Climie can seek that security because of the chance for interest outside of the Stars.

"I have had discussion with the Stars, and am open to further talks. There is obviously no agreement at this point, but Matt likes the organization, so we hope that future talks can be more fruitful," Norton wrote in an e-mail. "Matt has received a great deal of interest from teams in the KHL, and I would expect there to be a lot of interest on July 1 in free agency after the season and playoff run that Matt and the Stars had this year."
I think Matt would be a great keep for the Stars, but asking for a one-way contract may end up putting him on a one-way ticket somewhere else in the league.

Heika: Is Matt Climie last part of Stars' goaltending situation?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stars sign Krahn to 1 year deal, extend qualifying offers to nine

Stars goaltender Brent Krahn in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals versus the Hershey Bears. (Photo credit: JustSports Photography)

The day after the Stars loss in the Calder Cup Finals to the Hershey Bears, we already have off season movement. First, Dallas announced that they have signed Brent Krahn to a 1 year extension on his contract. It will be 2-way (meaning he can play in the NHL and AHL).

Also, Dallas extended qualifying offers to the following RFAs (players with games in Texas in italics): Fabian Brunnstrom, Maxime Fortunus, Aaron Gagnon, Nicklas Grossman, Perttu Lindgren, Trevor Ludwig, James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Raymond Sawada. Texas Stars forward Tyler Shelast was not extended an offer.

Here are both press releases:
Frisco, Tex. – The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has signed goaltender Brent Krahn to a one-year two-way contract extension.

Krahn, 28, played in 22 games for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, posting a 17-4-0 record and five shutouts with a 1.83 GAA and a .945 save percentage. He helped Texas reach the 2010 AHL Calder Cup Finals appearing in 11 games in the postseason, going 7-4-0 with a 2.48 GAA and a .924 save percentage in the 2010 AHL Playoffs.

The 6-4, 232-pound goaltender has played in 196 career AHL playoff games posting a 99-70-14 record including 19 shutouts. Krahn was drafted ninth overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

Release number two:
Frisco, Tex. – The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has extended qualifying offers to the following nine players: left wing Fabian Brunnstrom, defenseman Maxime Fortunus, center Aaron Gagnon, defenseman Nicklas Grossman, center Perttu Lindgren, defenseman Trevor Ludwig, left wing James Neal, defenseman Matt Niskanen and right wing Raymond Sawada.

Right wing Tyler Shelast did not receive a qualifying offer.

Teams are required to extend a one-year “qualifying offer” to any current restricted free agent by June 28 in order to receive the right of the first refusal or draft choice compensation should that respective player sign an offer sheet with another NHL club. The qualifying offers will expire at 4 p.m. (Central Time) on Thursday, July 15. Qualifying offers fall into three categories:

  • A player whose prior year salary was equal or less than $660,000 must receive a qualifying offer of 110% of their prior year’s salary.

  • A player whose prior year salary was more than $660,000 and up to $1 million must receive a qualifying offer of 105% of their prior year’s salary (but in no event shall such a qualifying offer exceed $1 million).

  • A player whose prior year salary was equal to or more than $1 million must receive a qualifying offer at 100% of their prior year’s salary.

If a team does not give a qualifying offer to a restricted free agent, he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and can sign with any team with no compensation required to the player’s former club.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hershey Bears claim 2010 Calder Cup, defeat Stars 4-0

Stars center Warren Peters battles for the puck with Bears Jay Beagle in Game 6 Monday in Hershey. (Photo credit: JustSports Photography)

It had been an improbable run. The upstart Texas Stars in their first year as a franchise were in the Calder Cup Finals. It was a team that really played like one, with no egos and no 'big time' players. In the Finals, they came up against AHL royalty. The Hershey Bears, seeking their 11th Calder Cup, were led by AHL MVPs and decorated veterans alike. It was storybook, but not every book can have a happy ending. Let's get to the wrap-up.

The first surprise of the game was the start in net by Brent Krahn. Coach Gulutzan, surely with his mind on the three straight losses by Climie, felt a need to shake something up. Krahn regained his role in the net but could not take the Stars to Game 7.

It was the Hershey Bears show from the first period on. Texas allowed a power play goal in the first off the stick of John Carlson on a rebound. Carlson goal, which would prove the game-winner, was his second of the playoffs. Carlson has had quite a year, scoring the OT winner in the World Juniors for the USA against Canada and winning a Calder Cup in Hershey. Shortly after Carlson's goal, his defensive linemate, Karl Alzner, made it 2-0 on another rebound slapshot from the top of the circle.

In the second, Texas surrendered another goal to make it 3-0. Patrick McNeill scored off a rebound of Alexandre Giroux's initial shot to take much of the last life out of the Stars. Even with a period to play, the Bears were too focused in on the Cup for Texas to even put a chink in the armor. The play of Michal Neuvirth was phenomenal and earned him the first star in the game. It was Neuvirth's first shutout of the postseason.

Texas played their game, but the Bears just had another level. After coming out flat in the first two games of the series, Hershey realized that Texas was not going to be a pushover and turned it on full blast. Matt Climie played great hockey all series long, and I don't think the series loss can be pinned on any one player. Jamie Benn, who did not score in the series, has played over 100 games in the 2009-2010 season, which more than doubles his highest totals from any of his amateur years. If you don't think he's tired and a little worn thin, then you're delusional.

Planning on letting the season percolate a bit in my brain and wrapping it up closer to the end of the week. Thank you so much for reading this season.

Tonight's lines
Benn-Gagnon-Sceviour
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
Wilson-Morin-Rallo
McCulloch-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Jancevski-Stephenson
Graham-Fortunus
Stafford-Tr. Ludwig

Krahn

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Hutchinson (knee, day-to-day)
Bachman, Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 11,002, a new record for the Giant Center. It was the 5th straight record crowd in the series (Games 2-6).

Chris Bourque, son of NHLer Ray Bourque, won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy for the MVP of the playoffs. Bourque has won three Calder Cups in his 5 year pro career, all with Hershey.

For those of you who want to watch, here's the link to the YouTube video of the final seconds of the game and the win.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Hershey - June 14 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Hershey Bears, Game 6

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
atHershey Bears
60-17-0-3, 123 pts
#1 East Division
Bears lead 3-2

June 14th at 6:00 PM
Giant Center, Hershey, PA

It's been said before in this series that the Stars were in "must-win" games. In fact, I think it's been stated that every game in Texas was a "must-win". Tonight's game is a must-win without quotation marks. A loss tonight hands the Hershey Bears the Calder Cup. It would also mark the end of an historic comeback for the Bears, trailing 0-2 after losing both games on home ice, they would be the first team to come back from such a deficit to win the Cup.

So far in the series, no team has won a home game. Despite 4 consecutive stadium record crowds in the series (1 at Giant Center in Game 2 and 3 at the Cedar Park Center in Games 3-5), no one's fans have gone home happy after the game. If the peculiar trend continues, the Stars will be the victors in the series.

Regarding Friday's effort, Stars captain Landon Wilson shared, "We played our game and we played it well." A 2-1 game is more the Stars style than the game earlier in the week that was a score of 6-3. When the score stays lower, Texas has a better chance to use that opportunistic offense and jump up on the rush. Perhaps with three games in Texas under their belt, the Stars can take advantage of the Bears defensemen getting overconfident and jumping into the play and create odd-man rushes if they are disciplined on the breakout.

What to do in net has been a question for the Stars for some of the series. Matt Climie has earned the right to play in Game 6 with his play through previous series and in Hershey early in this series. Even Friday's Game 5, in which he was named the second star, was a great goaltending effort. The other guy was just one shot better. Coach Gulutzan can't chance Game 6 of the Calder Cup finals on a goaltender coming off of a concussion. He would have to be 120% confident in Krahn to do it and have doubts about Climie's play. I don't think either is true, so 33 gets the start.

Tonight's game will be broadcast on the NHL Network.

Stars injury/call up report:
Hutchinson (lower body/knee, day-to-day)

Website: hersheybears.com
Twitter: @TheHersheyBears
Twitter (play-by-play): @jwaltonhockey
Blog (unofficial): Hershey Bears Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Stack the Pads

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Texas loses 3rd straight, trails 3-2 in series

Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Greg Rallo discuss faceoff positioning in Game 5 against the Hershey Bears.(Photo credit: Brian Hackert)

It was heartbreaking. It was crushing. But the Stars have been here before. With there series lead on the line going back to Hershey on Monday no matter what, Texas dropped Game 5 in OT against the Bears by a final of 2-1. The Stars faced the same deficit going back to Hamilton in the West Conference Finals and won Games 6 and 7 to advance to the Cup Finals. It's not impossible, but it just got a whole lot harder.

Texas took the early advantage on a power play goal from Aaron Gagnon, originally awarded to Francis Wathier. Texas had once again scored first in the contest, but recently that has not been an indicator of final score success. As it turns out, the early PP tally would be the only goal of the game for the Stars.

Hershey came back in the second to score an even strength tally off the stick of Francis Bouchard. The score would remain tied and set the game to overtime. The Stars were drastically outshot in regulation, 37-27.

In the 13th minute of the OT, Giroux showed the Cedar Park fans why he is one of the league's top scorers, putting one in five-hole on Matt Climie and ending the game at a 2-1 mark. Climie earned the second star for is 41 save 43 shot performance.

Tonight's lines
Benn-Gagnon-Sceviour
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Wilson-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Jancevski-Stephenson
Graham-Fortunus
Stafford-Tr. Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Hutchinson (knee, day-to-day)
Bachman, Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 7,054, which bested the previous record by 22 people.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Hershey - June 11 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Calder Cup Finals Games 5-7 to air on NHL Network

The AHL has announced that Games 5 through 7 (if necessary) of the Calder Cup Finals will air on the NHL Network. This will be the first national and international broadcast for the Texas Stars. No word on who your announcers will be. Here's hoping we can hear Josh Fisher's voice on NHL Network tonight though.

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Hershey Bears, Game 5

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
v.Hershey Bears
60-17-0-3, 123 pts
#1 East Division
Series tied 2-2

June 11th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

The Texas Stars have been here before. Well, not exactly here, but the feeling is similar. In both of the previous two series, Texas has come into a home-ice Game 5 with a 2-2 series mark. Texas has split their Game 5s though, winning against Chicago and losing to Hamilton. Can Texas win tonight to "get two cracks at it" in Hershey, as Coach Gulutzan said? For the record, the team winning the 5th game of a tied series has gone on to win the Cup 17 of 18 times, according to the Statesman.

There is just not a lot to point to in Texas's Game 4 loss that was deficient. The Stars and Bears both played excellent games, Bears Coach Mark French said it himself: "As a hockey fan..., I think it was a very well-played game by both teams... Great hockey." Texas had a mental mistake with less than 3 minutes left in the game that ended up costing them the 3-1 lead in the series.

Texas has shown they can win a series like this in a best of three, but they simply need to keep pushing like they did in the Chicago and Hamilton series. Against both teams, the Stars performed well with their backs against the wall. Is that what it takes to motivate this Texas club? It is possible that there is a perceived lack of pressure on the road team, as they are not expected to win. "It's usually home-ice advantage, but it's the road this series," Jamie Benn commented. "We've just got to find a way to win at home."

Andrew Hutchinson skated in morning skate but ended up not playing in the game. Gulutzan remarked, "He skated [Wednesday] but didn't feel he was quite ready. It's a day-to-day thing." Texas will hope to get Hutchinson back in Game 5. Hutchinson leads the league in postseason scoring among defenseman and plays in all situations: PP, PK, and even. "[Hutchinson] is an NHL caliber defenseman. Anytime you lose someone like that it's going to hurt a little bit," said Greg Rallo.

No matter what, tonight's game is the last in the Cedar Park Center until September or October. The Stars are expecting to fill up the stadium once again for this last game. The over 7,000 fans likely in attendance will just be hoping for the home "W" one last time.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (concussion, day-to-day)
Hutchinson (lower body/knee, day-to-day)

Website: hersheybears.com
Twitter: @TheHersheyBears
Twitter (play-by-play): @jwaltonhockey
Blog (unofficial): Hershey Bears Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Stack the Pads

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stars fall 4-2 on late PP tally, tied in series 2-2

Stars goalie Matt Climie prepares for a Bears shot. Climie stopped 25 of 28 shots in the game. (Photo credit: Brian Hackert)

If nothing else, the Stars game at home is getting better. After only playing solid hockey for 30 minutes on Monday, the Stars improved their game to a solid 55 minutes. A mental mistake penalty in the last 3 minutes was the dagger in the heart of the Stars tonight. It's still not 60. Texas is now tied with the Bears at two in this best of seven series for the right to hoist the Cup.

The Stars yielded the first goal on the power play. With Francis Wathier in the box for a slash, Keith Aucoin whipped one past Matt Climie from the goal line to make it 1-0. Texas would even it up before the period was over though on Greg Rallo's 3rd of the playoffs. Rallo got a pass slid over to him from Dan Jancevski, which he sent gloveside high on Neuvirth from the top of the circles. Texas finished the period with the shots lead at 9-8.

Texas took the lead in the second, taking advantage of a Hershey penalty. Perttu Lindgren shuffled down from the point and whipped one in stickside high on Neuvirth. The lead would not last long though as Jay Beagle evened it up with his second of the postseason. The Stars went to the locker room tied at 2 after 2, not a bad position for them historically.

And Texas managed to lock it down for most of the period until a bench minor for too many men unraveled the entire plan. "It's our responsibility on the bench to make sure we have the right guys out there," Coach Gulutzan said postgame, "As the head coach, you gotta take responsibility for those things." The ensuing power play saw the Bears take the lead with 128 seconds left in the game. It was John Carlson's first postseason goal, which earned him the #1 star of the game. Only ten seconds after the goal, Scott McCulloch took an ill-advised boarding call and Texas would spend the rest of the game on the penalty kill, eventually yielding an empty netter to set the final score at 4-2. Hershey won the shots battle in the game 29-28.

"We're gonna forget about it and it's a best of three," said Stars forward Jamie Benn, who has yet to score a goal on the series. This is not unfamilar territory for the Stars though, and it's the same place they'd be if every game had been won by the home team. Regarding the road-team advantage, Benn commented, "That's just the way it goes for this series".

Looking forward to Friday, Stars center Greg Rallo reminds us, "We've been here before, and we know what we need to do."

Tonight's lines
Benn-Gagnon-Sceviour
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Wilson-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Jancevski-Stephenson
Graham-Fortunus
Stafford-Tr. Ludwig

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Krahn (concussion)
Hutchinson (knee, day-to-day)
Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 7,032, which bested the previous record by 18 people. Coach Gulutzan commented positively on the atmosphere and added, "We would really like to reward [the crowd with a win]".

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Hershey - June 9 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Hershey Bears, Game 4

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
v.Hershey Bears
60-17-0-3, 123 pts
#1 East Division
Stars lead 2-1

June 9th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX


With Hershey's win on Monday, the Stars still have a chance to close out the series on home ice and win their first playoff series in Texas in history. The Stars will need a solid 60 minute effort tonight to do that though. After 20 minutes, the elation in the CPC was palpable and talks of sweep abounded. As the Stars were quick to point out though, you couldn't have expected the Bears to simply roll over.

A lot was made of the nasty travel schedule that the Stars had for the ride back to Texas. From Hershey, the Stars bussed to Philadelphia and then flew commercial to Austin with one stop in between. The Bears, meanwhile, flew charter on "Bear Force One". Stars Coach Glen Gulutzan feels that Texas will benefit from recovering at home over the past 48 hours.

It is unclear if Texas can simply play the same game that they did during the first 20 minutes on Monday and still be successful. The Bears now have a certain confidence that they lacked during the first period on Monday. Frustration mounted for the Bears in the game, who gave Texas seven power play opportunities in the game. Texas was only able to score on the first PP.

The surely packed house will be wiating with bated breath every time the puck hits the stick of Jamie Benn. Benn, who has yet to have his breakout game for the series, is due for a goal or two.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (concussion, day-to-day)

Andrew Hutchinson did not play the last half of the third period after a knee-on-knee collision with Steve Pinizzotto of the Bears. No word on his status for tonight's game. Hutchinson was on the ice for morning skate. If he is unavailable for any reason, Trevor Ludwig would likely slide into the lineup paired with Stafford while Fortunus would pair with Graham.

Website: hersheybears.com
Twitter: @TheHersheyBears
Twitter (play-by-play): @jwaltonhockey
Blog (unofficial): Hershey Bears Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Stack the Pads

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bears score five unanswered, win 6-3 over Stars

Texas Stars captain Landon Wilson prepares for a faceoff during Game 3 against the Hershey Bears. (Photo credit: James Mitchell)

The defending Calder Cup champions showed tonight why they hold that title as the Bears rallied back to stomp the Stars 6-3 in Game 3. Texas opened a 2 goal lead on the Bears early but allowed five unanswered goals in the second and third period in the loss. Winger Francis Wathier reminded the media, "We knew coming into the series that nothing was going to be easy."

Texas had a great first period. The Stars outshot the BEars 11-6 en route to a 3-1 lead after 20. Texas got an early power play goal from Andrew Hutchinson, which deflected off the skate of Kyle Wilson to make it 1-0. Wilson avenged his misdeed as Hershey evened it up just five minutes later. An attempted breakout pass by Maxime Fortunus was intercepted on the boards at the blue line to create a 2-on-1 that ended with the puck in the net.

Texas's grinders took over in the second half of the first. With the Stars on the penalty kill, Francis Wathier skated in low to pressure Michal Neuvirth as he handled the puck. Neuvirth whiffed on the out pass, and Wathier easily roofed the puck for a shorthanded marker. Texas ended the period with a Ray Sawada goal on a 2-on-1 with Scott McCulloch.

And if you're weak of heart, you may want to stop reading at this point. The rest of the game was very forgettable for the Stars. "The last 30 minutes we got outworked," commented Coach Gulutzan. Gulutzan pinned the turning point of the game at the Greg Amadio minor penalty that the Stars did not convert on early in the second. With a 4-1 lead, the game would have mostly been salted away. The kill gave the Bears momentum, which they used to strike back.

Unanswered goals from Kyle Wilson, Mathieu Perreault (2) and Andrew Gordon (2) sent the Stars to the locker room with their series lead cut in half. The mantra in the room was that it was better to lose this way than in triple OT. The Stars now have a chance to recover before Game 4. Several players and Coach Gulutzan pinned part of the issue on long travel. The Stars had to bus from Hershey to Philadelphia then fly from there to a connector to Austin. It is certain a contributing factor, but the first period showed that the Stars had it in them.

So what now for Game 4? "The only thing that we can control is their transition," commented Wathier, "We gotta make sure that at both blue lines we're putting the puck deep." Texas crushed the Bears offensive transition in Games 1 and 2. Because they didn't tonight, we saw the full-powered Hershey offense unleashed.

Texas had seven power play opportunities in the game and only scored on one. Early the Bears were taking penalties left and right, clearly frustrated with their play. The Stars need to take advantage at key junctures, as Coach Gulutzan commented to seize momentum.

"This time of year, you can't change things drastically," added Coach. "We'd like to keep [scoring] low. We have to keep them under 3 goals."

Tonight's lines
Benn-Gagnon-Sceviour
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Wilson-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Jancevski-Stephenson
Graham-Stafford
Fortunus-Hutchinson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Krahn (concussion)
Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Tr. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 7,014. Tonight's attendance was a record for the Cedar Park Center and definitely had an effect on the players, which they commented on. Coach Gulutzan on the crowd: "I wish we could have had a better result [for the crowd]. What a great thing for Cedar Park and Austin to have a crowd like this!" Word is that Wednesday's game is already selling as standing room only.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Hershey - June 7 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Hershey Bears, Game 3

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
v.Hershey Bears
60-17-0-3, 123 pts
#1 East Division
Stars lead 2-0

June 7th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

(Sorry for late publishing today. Blogger.com issues...)

In the history of the AHL, eight teams have had home ice advantage in the Calder Cup Finals and lost the first two games at home in a best of seven. Of those eight teams, none of them went on to win the Cup. This is just the situation that Hershey finds itself in against Texas this evening in Cedar Park.

Texas, having taken both games at Giant Center by a goal, hopes to close out the series and the season on home ice this week. The Stars are 6-2 on home ice this postseason, having won 2/3 in both of their series where they did not have home ice advantage. Texas has not had home ice advantage since the first round against Rockford, a series that they swept in 4 games. Since then, the Stars have not enjoyed a 2 game lead at any point, winning both intervening series by a mark of 4-3.

Texas has continued to play the same game that we've talked about here all year, solid defense and opportunistic offense. The problem for the Bears is that they have also continued to play the same game as they have all year. Hershey, a very prolific scoring team, has had issues with players being too cute or fancy, in the words of Bears Coach French, and also of defensemen being too eager to jump up on offensive plays when they shouldn't. The game that took the Bears to the Calder Cup Finals clearly cannot win it for them. Something will have to change for Hershey to win games.

Currently in the series, Jamie Benn only has 1 point, a secondary assist to the Stars first goal on Saturday night. In each series, Benn has had a breakout game: Game 3 against Rockford was a four point effort; Benn's five point night in Texas against Chicago for Game 5; and two two-goal games against Hamilton (1 and 4). While it is pretty clear that the Stars can score goals without Benn, he will undoubtedly have one of these breakout type games sometime in this series.

And then there's goalie Matt Climie. There hasn't been as much to talk about regarding Climie in this series. He's received a reasonable number of shots and let in one fewer than the other guy both nights. And that's what you need from your goaltender. He may be asked to steal a game, like his 51 save effort in Hamilton in Game 6, at some point during the series, but he hasn't needed to yet because of the blocked shot effort of the Stars. The Stars doubled up the Bears in blocked shots through the game at 26-13. That is what a committed defense is about.

The Stars have called for a white-out and at last notification there were fewer than 100 tickets left for tonight's game.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (concussion, day-to-day)

Website: hersheybears.com
Twitter: @TheHersheyBears
Twitter (play-by-play): @jwaltonhockey
Blog (unofficial): Hershey Bears Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Stack the Pads

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stars take 2-0 series stranglehold on 4-3 win

The Texas Stars pulled off a stunner of a game tonight in Hershey, winning 4-3 to take a 2-0 series lead going back to three games in Cedar Park. Texas never trailed in the game and has now won 4 straight road games.

Texas struck first in the game with an early tally just 60 seconds in. Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour combined to breakout Aaron Gagnon who skated in alone and beat Michal Neuvirth with a slow dribbler through his legs. It was Gagnon's 7th goal of the playoffs and the first time Texas had scored first in a game since Game 4 of the West Division finals against Chicago.

The Stars would give one back just as quickly though, as they did all night. The seesaw began when Steve Pinizzotto scored a shorthanded goal at 7:40 of the first. With Texas on the power play, Coach Gulutzan had Perttu Lindgren, a forward, at the point with Garrett Stafford. Lindgren mishandled the puck and Pinizzotto went in alone, beating Climie glove side high from the top of the left-wing circle. Texas and Hershey were even on goals (1) and shots (7) to end the period.

The back and forth continued in the second with Texas again going first. Garrett Stafford fired one from the point on the power play that beat Neuvirth. Wilson was in front tying up the man and blocking vision, which is a great role for him and a good example for younger players on the team. The crowd in the Cedar Park Center had barely quieted down when Hershey got the tying goal, a one-timer from the point from Francis Bouchard that beat Climie stick-side.

The goal per period pace of the game continued in the third. Texas, again, went first. Perttu Lindgren, who got a well-deserved second star in the game, split the two defensemen coming down the middle and dished a pass to Mathieu Beaudoin, who was unguarded on the back door. The tap-in goal was Beaudoin's 4th of the playoffs and set the score at 3-2.

Hershey would respond just past the halfway point of the period. Patrick Wellar's point shot kicked off Matt Climie's pads to the stick of Andrew Gordon, who potted his 11th of the postseason and tied it at 3 all. Texas got into some penalty trouble in the middle of the third that looked to threaten the tied score. With Jamie Benn already in the box for cross-checking, Matt Stephenson took a double minor for high sticking. Texas managed to kill the penalty and goad Bears captain Boyd Kane into taking a double minor for an attempted spear. The Stars PP would not score, leaving Texas with 57 second between them and overtime.

Overtime was not necessary though; Travis Morin ensured that. Just a few seconds after the Stars PP expired, a rush by Texas came up with a goal. Scott McCulloch, the hero of Game 1, got a shot in on Neuvirth that bounced out to a seemingly impossible angle on the right-wing side. Texas forward Mathieu Beaudoin was there and just flung it on net. The puck ticked off Neuvirth's glove and rainbowed into the net. With 46 seconds left, Texas was up 4-3. Hershey would take the ensuing faceoff with an empty net but would not prevail, with multiple offsides calls with the extra attacker hampering their offensive chances.

Hershey cannot chalk this game up to unfamiliarity. The Stars were a known quantity tonight and the Bears simply did not have the solutions. Coach French sounded frustrated with the Bears play during his postgame press conference, which you can listen to below.

Game highlights:


Here is Coach Gulutzan's postgame:


Here is Coach French's postgame.


Tonight's lines
Benn-Gagnon-Sceviour
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Wilson-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Jancevski-Stephenson
Graham-Stafford
Fortunus-Hutchinson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Krahn (concussion)
Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Tr. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 10,872. The attendance tonight was the largest crowd to ever see a Bears home game.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Hershey - June 5 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Hershey Bears, Game 2

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
atHershey Bears
60-17-0-3, 123 pts
#1 East Division
Stars lead 1-0

June 5th at 6:00 PM
Giant Center, Hershey, PA


After Game 1's win for the Stars, there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth from central Pennsylvania. Calls that the Bears underestimated the Stars or that they were trying to be too fancy with their play have abounded. Bears Coach French agreed, "We're trying to be too cute, make that one more pass instead of one less pass and one more shot." And surely the Bears could have used a few more shots, especially in the first period when Texas set the tone early with a 12-2 shot advantage.

The Stars played their game well, keeping quality chances to a minimum. Matt Climie didn't give an out of this world performance, but a lot of that was because he didn't have to. His defenseman limited quality chances and cleared out rebounds for him. He definitely had a great game, but he got a lot of help from the defense. Texas will have a challenge of facing the Bears strong offense that has now had an opportunity to see how the Stars play their game against them.

Thursday was a night for guys who weren't on that top line or even top-6. Greg Rallo and Scott McCulloch, both on the third line centered by Morin, were your goal scorers. Was Hershey concentrating on containing Jamie Benn? It's possible, since Aaron Gagnon, one of his linemates, had a seemingly high number of quality chances.

The good news is that the Stars have already exceeded expectations for many. Hershey is now the team facing a 'must-win' situation. Coming back to Texas with a 0-2 deficit would be a killer for the Bears. Expect an intense game with a lot of physicality that we saw previewed in Game 1.

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (concussion, day-to-day)

Website: hersheybears.com
Twitter: @TheHersheyBears
Twitter (play-by-play): @jwaltonhockey
Blog (unofficial): Hershey Bears Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Stack the Pads

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Texas takes low-scoring Game 1 by 2-1 score

"They" said it couldn't be done. The Hershey Bears had not lost a game on home ice since March 21st. No one told the Texas Stars. The Stars emerged victorious from Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals to take a 1-0 series lead. Texas has now won 3 straight road games.

As was expected between two teams that never played, the game was a little tentative early. Surprisingly, it was Texas that picked up the offensive pace in the 1st period, sending 12 shots on Michal Neuvirth's net but scoring on none. Hershey only managed 2 shots in the period and the game went to the second tied at zero.

In the second period, Texas made it 11 straight games where they have not scored first. Winger Francois Bouchard received a great pass from Mathieu Perreault. Bouchard was patient with the puck and waited until Climie had committed to swoop around him and pot his 3rd of the postseason. Bouchard was unguarded after dancing around Ethan Graham at the right circle.

Texas would tie it up though shortly thereafter. Greg Rallo broke into the zone and, using defenseman Karl Alzner as a screen, put one in the top right corner on Michal Neuvirth from no more that 10 feet into the offensive zone. It was Rallo's second of the postseason. The Stars would keep an even keel going into the second intermission and stay tied at 1. Texas was outshot 13-8 in the middle frame.

And in the third, it was an unlikely hero breaking out to provide the offensive punch for the Stars. Scott McCulloch played the role of independent contractor and got the 2-1 lead all on his own. In the Stars zone, Chris Bourque attempted a behind the back pass to Collins which was cut off by McCulloch. Scott flew up the left wing boards, cutting to the center with a sick deke around a prone Chris Bourque, and beat Neuvirth on the backhand five-hole. The unassisted tally for McCulloch was his 3rd of the postseason.

Despite 12 Hershey shots in the period to Texas's 6, the Stars kept up the pressure with more quality chances. The final score would be 2-1 with McCulloch's goal the game-winner.

For a game between two teams that don't know each other very well (supposedly), there is already some bad blood brewing. Texas Stars defenseman Andrew Hutchinson took a nasty hit at the boards from Andrew Gordon late in the 3rd that turned into matching roughing minors for Alexandre Giroux and Matt Stephenson. Despite 6 power plays in the game, 4 for Texas and 2 for Hershey, neither team scored a power play goal.

The Stars played their game tonight. You had to believe that if this turned into a shootout that Texas would have less chance of winning it. But in a defensive battle, Texas and Hershey are pretty evenly matched. They both finished the regular season with 198 goals against. Second and third stars in the game went to Michal Neuvirth and Matt Climie in that order. After the first goal, on what had to be one of the first half dozen shots of the game despite being in the 2nd period, Matt Climie locked it down. Some pudgy rebounds were smothered by the swarming Texas defense.

Here are your highlights:


And Coach Gulutzan's postgame press conference:


And for fairness, Coach French's as well:


Tonight's lines
Benn-Gagnon-Sceviour
Wathier-Peters-Sawada
McCulloch-Morin-Rallo
Wilson-Lindgren-Beaudoin

Jancevski-Stephenson
Graham-Stafford
Fortunus-Hutchinson

Climie

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Krahn (concussion)

Chupp, Korostin, Shelast, Ty. Ludwig, Tr. Ludwig, Gazdic (scratched)

Tonight's attendance was 10,013.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Hershey - June 3 2010

Gameday Preview: Stars at Hershey Bears, Game 1

Texas Stars
46-27-3-4, 99 pts
#2 West Division
atHershey Bears
60-17-0-3, 123 pts
#1 East Division
Series tied 0-0

June 3rd at 6:00 PM
Giant Center, Hershey, PA

After a layoff that felt like forever for both teams, the Texas Stars and Hershey Bears will play the first game between the two teams in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals. "Having this week off is good for us," Stars winger Jamie Benn commented.

For the series, the stories practically write themselves. Hershey is the oldest team in the AHL, founded in 1937, and has won 10 Calder Cups. Texas, meanwhile, is the youngest team in the AHL, just founded this year, and has obviously never gone to the Calder Cup Finals before now. "These times don't come by every year," Coach Gulutzan mused.

First of all, who are the Hershey Bears? Stars fans have heard about the Bears all year, no doubt, but Texas has never faced Hershey on the ice. The Bears, affiliated with the Washington Capitals, had a spectacular season in the East Conference, winning 60 of 80 games and setting the league record for points in a season at 123. Hershey has been in 4 of the last 5 Calder Cup Finals and won it all last year against the Manitoba Moose.

They are a high powered offense, much like their parent club, scoring 342 goals during the regular season. The next highest total was Worcester's 275. Goaltender Matt Climie reminded the media, "We've played strong defense all year so we're ready for the challenge." Unlike many high-powered offenses, Hershey doesn't suffer a lack of defensive prowess and finished the regular season tied with the Texas Stars for fewest goals against (198). Coach Gulutzan feels that the Bears are "a little bit of Chicago and a little bit of Hamilton," clearly referring to Chicago's scoring prowess and Hamilton's defensive skills.

Texas has several players who have played against the Bears in the past, most recently those who faced them in the Calder Cup Finals last year with the Manitoba Moose. Stars defenseman Maxime Fortunus, winger Ray Sawada and center Greg Rallo all played for the Manitoba team that won the West but couldn't beat the Bears in the Finals. "They haven't changed their style of play from last year," said Fortunus, who collected a goal and three assists against the Bears in last year's Finals, "I'm trying to tell players and coaches everything I can tell them [about Hershey's style of play]." As far as scouting goes on the Bear, Coach Gulutzan added, "You're just looking for increments of information that might make your team better."

With regard to players to watch, there are a lot for the Bears. Four of the top ten points scorers in the playoffs wear Hershey jerseys. Chris Bourque (7-16-23), Alexandre Giroux (12-9-21), Keith Aucoin (1-18-19), and Andrew Gordon (10-5-15) supply a huge number of points for the potent offense. Texas has the #1 and #10 spots on the same list with Jamie Benn (14-10-24) and Perttu Lindgren (6-8-14). Other names to watch for include defenseman points leader for the Bears Karl Alzner and rookie John Carlson, who scored the game winner at the World Juniors several months ago.

In net for Hershey is Michal Neuvirth, a second round draft pick by the Capitals in the 2006 draft. Neuvirth backstopped the Bears to last year's Calder Cup and played in 17 games for the Capitals this year, going 9-4-0 with 2.75 GAA. In the playoffs, Neuvirth is 10-2 with a 2.13 GAA and .917 SV%. Matt Climie will be your starter for the Stars with Bachman on the bench. Brent Krahn is just starting to recover from his injury, taking his first skate on Tuesday since his injury.

I expect Game 1 to be a bit tentative as both teams feel each other out. If Texas can get out of the first period leading or at least tied, then there's good momentum for the Stars moving forward into the second and third. Coach Gulutzan and the Stars are ready for this series, "They don't want to practice anymore. They just want the series to start."

Stars injury/call up report:
Krahn (concussion, day-to-day)
Wilson (unspecified, day-to-day)

There is "no timetable" for Krahn's return. Richard Bachman will backup Matt Climie.

Website: hersheybears.com
Twitter: @TheHersheyBears
Twitter (play-by-play): @jwaltonhockey
Blog (unofficial): Hershey Bears Hockey
Blog (unofficial): Stack the Pads
Blog (unofficial): Thoughts on Goal

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Texas Stars "On The Ice" report on ESPN Austin

Rick McLaughlin appeared on "The Bottom Line" this afternoon. The best quote was by Chip Brown though: ""[Texas] is a team you just have to like. If you don't,... you're the Grinch. Your heart is 3 sizes too small." Here's the audio:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Climie starts Game 1, Krahn day-to-day

Texas's goaltender situation got quite a bit clearer today. Texas goalie Brent Krahn, who backstopped the Stars during the Rockford series and 6 games of the Chicago series, skated for the first time since sustaining a concussion in the May 9th game at Chicago. Krahn will not start or even ride the pine for Game 1. Bachman will back up Climie for Game 1 at least.

Texas flies out this afternoon for the start of the series on Thursday night.

Also, Mark Stepneski over at Andrew's Dallas Stars Page has posted audio from today's interviews at Media Day.