Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Texas Stars Anticipate Grinding Series, Confident in Road Play

Colton Sceviour tracks Milwaukee's Ben Ryan at Bradley Center during the first round of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs. (Credit: Jeff Hanisch)
Thanks to a few different factors, despite being the first seed in the Western Conference, Texas will start their hunt for the Calder Cup at the Bradley Center on Friday, not the CPC. For their part though, the Stars are aware of the challenge and are facing the games with a calm and measured approach.

"I think we should be confident," said Stars' assistant coach Doug Lidster. "It's going to be tight. I'm not sure home and away is going to matter as much. It's still 200 by 85 feet. The game is played the same way."

And the way these two teams play is very similar. Stars forward Colton Sceviour was around the last time these two clubs faced off in the playoffs and when they were divisional foes as well.

"All the way back to our first year when we played against them, the guys may change but the way they play is the same. They're structured and good in their own end. It's going to be a hard-fought grinding series. I predict a grinding series. You might not score your first goal until the last five minutes but it might be all you need."

In 2011, four of the six games were decided by a goal and three of those went to overtime.

Travis Morin, who scored some important goals in that series with Milwaukee, agrees: "They haven't changed a lot in the way they play. We can play the same style. Both teams are hard working and strong forechecking. I'm expecting a tough grind it out series with some low scoring games."

The potential for tight games is what makes getting at least a split out of the first two in Milwaukee so critical for the club. Texas has the best road record in the league with a .711 points percentage, so they are confident. Then again, Milwaukee is 15-4-1 in their last 20 and is riding the play of a very hot goaltender, Magnus Hellberg, who went 4-0 this past week with two shutouts to propel the Ads to the playoffs.

The Stars as a franchise are not unfamiliar with playing and winning big playoff games on the road. In the 2010 playoffs, Texas closed out all three of their series on the road, two of those being Game 7s. Several of the players who were there for those games are still around, including Luke Gazdic.

"[Starting on the road] is not going to affect us," said Gazdic. "We have to go in there and win regardless. We're going to have to win games in other buildings."

Coach Lidster added, "There's nothing fancy about our team. [Our play] translates to any rink."

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