Thursday, May 15, 2014

Texas Stars Learning to Deal with Adversity

It turns out that it isn't all sunshine and roses on the path to a Calder Cup.
(Credit: Mark Newman)
These are the series that test whether you've got enough in the tank to win a championship. Up against the defending champs, Texas looked to be flying high with a 2-0 lead in the series. After four, it's all tied.

Game 3 was a disaster. Game 4 was better. Game 5 has to be even better still.

But this is where you test the mettle of a club that claims to be the best. Only a fool would assume Texas could go 15-0 en route to the Calder Cup. At some point, the bubble had to burst. Now that it has, what happens in Game 5 is the real challenge of the playoffs.

Texas has not lost back-to-back games since March 1st. They lost three in a row just once this season and two of those were in the shootout. In fact, the last time Texas lost three in a row in regulation was in the second round of last year's playoffs. Those three were among the final four games for the 2012-13 squad, all losses, which ended the series in Oklahoma City.

Despite holding the best record in the league, these Stars are pretty green when it comes to Calder Cup experience. They are even greener in relative terms when you compare them to the Griffins. Veteran stalwarts like Derek Meech, Maxime Fortunus and Toby Petersen certainly have the miles on the tires in the playoffs to prove they've been there before. However, Texas is icing a lot of rookies and low-mileage guys too. Brendan Ranford, Curtis McKenzie, Radek Faksa, Jack Campbell and Matej Stransky have never played in professional playoff series before. Second year players like Brett Ritchie and Jamie Oleksiak only went two rounds deep last year. Others like Nemeth and Jokipakka played in the postseason in Europe, but never in the States before this season.

Compare that to the Griffins, who have 12 skaters and a goalie who won it all last year still on their squad.

If the Stars make it out of this round, Game 5 will have to be the turning point. There are no moral victories here. You can claim up and down that Game 4 should have been 2-2 going to overtime after the controversial high-stick goal from Grand Rapids. That doesn't matter. Good teams find a way to charge right through adversity and win anyway.

Texas needs to walk out of Van Andel Arena on Friday night with a chance to take the series on Sunday in Game 6. A win is what is required. Nothing less will do.

2 comments:

  1. anybody else concerned that Travis doesn't have a goal yet in this series

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    Replies
    1. I would agree that it's a concern. Morin has always been a playmaker more than a scorer. With his emergence this year as a goal scorer as well, he has been marked pretty well by the Griffins. Part of why Ranford is scoring more. Now they're all marked. Need guys like Mueller and Glennie to step up.

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