Friday, May 16, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars at Grand Rapids Griffins, Game 5

Texas Stars
48-18-3-7, 106 pts
#1 Western Conference
atGrand Rapids Griffins
46-23-2-5, 99 pts
#4 Western Conference
Series tied 2-2

May 16th at 6:00 PM
Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Regardless of the outcome of the game tonight, it will be discussed by Stars' fans for many years to come. This could be the pivot point of this Texas squad's season. Tied up at two, Game 5 is a big one. You can't overstate it.

In a series where the lower seed gets three straight, it becomes extremely important for the higher seed to win one on the road. Otherwise, the Stars will face elimination on Sunday night instead of having a chance at knocking out Grand Rapids.

This feels about right.
(Credit: Mark Newman)
The Stars were on information lockdown regarding Brett Ritchie's presence on the trip. It is possible that the scoring winger traveled with the team to Michigan in case of a chance at playing in Game 5. We won't know until morning skate. Given the nature of Ritchie's injury (lower body), he hasn't been on skates in a while and will be at a significant conditioning and general ability disadvantage. Is a marginally healthy Ritchie better than the other options? Who do you scratch to get him into the lineup? There's no question you put him with Hedden and Dowling if you can get him in the lineup. That bumps Henderson elsewhere. After excellent play in the late season, Henderson has been pretty invisible in this series. Do you scratch the Nashville assignee in favor of Ritchie? Perhaps.

Other important things to watch:
  • If the rotation holds, this is Jack Campbell's first start since letting up four on 16 shots. He looked good in the third period of Game 3, when he re-relieved Cristopher Nilstorp. That's the Campbell that Texas needs.
  • Tomas Jurco left Game 4 with an upper body injury and did not return. No word on his status, but it's early. More as the day goes on.
  • Matchups continue to be key. Late in the game, Texas swapped Scott Glennie on to the line with Hedden and Dowling looking for a spark. Glennie's line with Mueller and Jeffrey continues to have a tough matchup with Nestrasil and Emmerton. Jeffrey's goal in Game 4 was on the power play, so it was not that matchup that they overcame. That's a big challenge for the squad.
Stars injury/call up report:
Ritchie, Hulak, Klingberg (injury)

Website: griffinshockey.com
Twitter: @GriffinsHockey
Blog: Griffins Hockey on MLive.com

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