|Handshakes of the disappointing variety last night in OKC. (Credit: Steven Christy)|
There are a few thoughts that spring to mind immediately and certainly more will come as the next few days give me time to mentally go through the regular and postseason.
- The Barons' best players were their best players. I wrote about it in last night's game recap, but the Barons had phenomenal efforts from Yann Danis, Mark Arcobello, Toni Rajala and more. They also picked up solid performances from guys you might not have expected, like Taylor Fedun and CJ Stretch.
- Texas's best players were not their best players. Matt Fraser didn't have a point in the series and had the egregious turnover in OT of Game 1 to give the Barons the win. Alex Chiasson's only point came on the inconsequential lone goal last night. He struggled with the unexplained transition to center and was minus-8 in the series. The Stars' leading scorer in round 1, Kevin Connauton, had a single assist and was minus-8 in the series as well.
- Line shuffling last night was very confusing. Travis Morin, all-time points leader for Texas and all-time assists leader, was moved to the wing to be centered by Toby Petersen. Colton Sceviour dropped to the third line to center Glennie and Reilly Smith. Glennie had been doing well in the defensive center role in the series. While he hadn't recorded any points, coming into last night's game he was one of Texas's few plus players in the series. Also, Sceviour hasn't played center in months. It's not like you forget, but it's not the best time to make a shift and play with new linemates.
- There were warning signs of this possible end. After the trade deadline, Texas was going great guns but then dropped back-to-back games against Hamilton and OKC, both in the last minute of the game. At the time, it was mostly written off as troubling but, due to some of the lineup changes, excusable. The team beat San Antonio convincingly three times and split against Charlotte the next week, and it was mostly forgotten. Then the team backed into the postseason with losses against Houston and Rockford.
You can say what you will about resting starters or chemistry, but in the last month of the season, Texas only beat a playoff team once. They were 1-3 against playoff clubs in April and that one win was in OT. Most of their games were against non-playoff clubs, where they were a still-unimpressive 3-2.
- Penalties weren't as bad as it looked on the surface if you're just looking at the numbers. Texas actually has the fewest PIMs in the playoffs, both overall and in terms of minors/game. However, the Stars allowed a power play goal in each of their games in OKC, going 10/13 on the kill overall. The penalties also seemed to come at the worst times, stopping momentum and handing it right to the Barons. There was a measure of frustration there clearly.