Thursday, May 22, 2014

Texas Stars Relishing Hard-Earned Home Ice Advantage

Between the ice surface, the fans and last change, Texas is using home ice to its fullest benefit this postseason
Cristopher Nilstorp (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
After earning home ice throughout the playoffs, the Texas Stars have taken full advantage of it in the postseason. Texas is 4-0 at the Cedar Park Center in the postseason, outscoring their opponents 20-5. That's just a continuation of the league's best home record during the regular season as well. The Stars set a 29-8-0-1 mark, outscoring opponents 154-89 at home.

"Teams coming into this building know it's going to be a tough night," said forward Dustin Jeffrey, who has scored four of his five postseason goals at home.

Mike Hedden expanded, "We're a much better team at home. I don't know if it's the ice or the crowd or just that we're more comfortable."

With extra time to sell tickets for this weekend's games and a marquee matchup against a Canadian team, the Stars will look to pack the building for Games 1 and 2 before sending the team off to Ontario.

As Texas gets closer and closer to potential true 100 degree hockey, players praised the ice conditions at the CPC despite the heat.

"I've always been surprised how good the ice is here because it's 90 degrees outside," said Hedden. "I love playing in our rink. Our ice is always in top shape, probably the best in the league."

Having solid ice helps when your team is based so heavily on speed, skill and transition. Being able to have the puck handle the same in the first minute of the period as the final minute of the period is important to skill players like Morin, Ranford and Dowling. Players like Dowling have commented before that you can tell when ice conditions aren't right in other rinks. The puck bounces and is unpredictable, the last thing a skill player wants when they're trying to finish a scoring play at the net.

The other advantage of home ice that is not as clear to casual fans is the last change and faceoff benefits. As the home team, Texas gets the final change in Game 1 and 2 against Toronto. This means that Toronto has to put their five players out on the ice for the next faceoff before Texas does. That gives Coach Desjardins a distinct upper-hand. He, or any coach at home, can analyze the players heading out and choose the best players available on his side to matchup against them.

When the faceoff does start, the home team is awarded another boost. The road team must get 'set' before the puck will drop. The away center must place his stick on the ice before the puck drops. The home center does not have to put his stick on the ice and can attack the puck in motion if he can anticipate the drop.

With Texas basing much of its game on transition and possession, these two advantages are huge for this Stars team.

When you add in the often compressed schedule of the playoffs, winning your home games is paramount.

Jeffrey agreed, "The way we've played at home makes it a huge benefit. It's a lot of games in a short amount of time. For us to make the most of our opportunities at home, it has to be that way."

2 comments:

  1. "It's the ice".......of course!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The "Ice crew" does a outstanding job!.....indeed.

    ReplyDelete

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