Saturday, May 10, 2014

Gameday Preview: Stars v. Grand Rapids Griffins, Game 2

Texas Stars
48-18-3-7, 106 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Grand Rapids Griffins
46-23-2-5, 99 pts
#4 Western Conference
Texas leads 1-0

May 10th at 7:00 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

We'll just say it right up front. I wouldn't put money on another three goal period to open up this game.

After Texas busted out of the gate with two goals in the opening four minutes, Grand Rapids was on their heels in Game 1. The Stars pressed their advantage and scored five in all, doubling the Griffins' season goals against average of 2.46 per game. Petr Mrazek hasn't allowed five goals in a game this season and has only done it twice in his AHL career, both last season. To call it atypical would be accurate.

Also of note was the nature of the goals. There were some pretty ones. Not greasy or garbage but real skills plays. The Stars noted postgame that Grand Rapids has a real strength at forward and did not explicitly state but implied that there were some exploitable weaknesses on defense. Texas did that on Thursday, getting behind the defense all alone three times for goals in the game. A few other opportunities didn't go but were close. It will be interesting to see if that team speed from Texas causes any changes in the GRG defensive mindset in Game 2.

One nice piece of the Texas puzzle in Game 1 was scoring and solid play from all over the lineup. Everyone I talked to postgame from the team was raving about the play of the fourth line. With Radek Faksa centering Toby Petersen and Matej Stransky, the line was able to take defensive zone draws and didn't need the typical potection of a fourth line from the hard matchups. That caused issues for the Griffins as they got hemmed in their own zone by the trio at times. That's a huge positive to take from the game. (Maybe Henderson can teach Petersen some Czech.)

Cristopher Nilstorp looks to be your starter for Texas as the rotation continues. The Swede hasn't played in 10 days, last lacing them up against OKC in Game 3 on April 30th. Mrazek figures to be your man at the other end.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ritchie, Hulak, Klingberg (injury)

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

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