Sunday, April 26, 2015

Another Slow Start Puts Texas Down 0-2 in Series with Rockford

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Two games into the Calder Cup defense and the Stars will face elimination on Wednesday in Rockford. A flat first period compounded into an overall flat effort in general as the IceHogs pasted Texas 4-1 in their own building.

"We have to come out stronger," said captain Maxime Fortunus. "We have to respond better in that aspect of the game."

Texas was already down 2-0 on the scoreboard by the first intermission after volleying just four shots at Rockford's Michael Leighton in the frame. The IceHogs sent 11 shots toward Jack Campbell, who was pierced by two.

The most curious aspect of the game was the depth left in the seats to wear suits and watch the game instead of playing. Scott Valentine, Kevin Henderson and Matej Stransky all saw their names in the scratch column this evening. Instead, Mattias Janmark played just his ninth North American pro game, and Mattias Backman drew in as the seventh defenseman.

Now the Stars have no choice but to sweep in Rockford or be eliminated in the first round for the first time in five years.

Here's the release:
Michael Leighton's 34 saves smothered the offense for the Texas Stars and led the Rockford IceHogs to a 2-0 series lead with a 4-1 win on Saturday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in front of 4,978 at Cedar Park Center.

Brett Ritchie scored the only goal for Texas off a rebound at 11:58 of the third to close the Stars deficit to 2-1, but Peter Regin buried a power play goal less than five minutes later to pull the IceHogs away for good. Jack Campbell suffered the loss in net, stopping 24 of 27 shots.

The series shifts to Rockford, Ill for Game 3 on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Garret Ross opened up the game's scoring midway through the first, fighting through a scrum of players and chipping in a puck that slipped through Campbell for his first of the playoffs. With two minutes remaining in the first, Tanner Kero sprung free down the left side and ripped a goal from the circle to make it 2-0 IceHogs.

After a scoreless second, Ritchie added his first of the postseason to cut into the Rockford lead, but that was the only offense the Stars could muster as Leighton settled in to make 30 of his 34 saves in the final two periods overall. Regin's power play strike was from the left circle at 16:17, and Brandon Mashinter added an empty-net goal with just under two minutes to play for his first of the playoffs and third point of the game.

The IceHogs finished 1-for-4 on the power play while the Stars went 0-for-3.

Tonight's lines:
Hulak-Morin-Rallo
McKenzie-Dowling-Ritchie
Ranford-Shore-Glennie
Dickinson-Janmark

Fortunus-Nemeth
Oleksiak-Gaunce
Meech-Honka
Backman

Campbell

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Henderson, Troock, Smith, Ully, Valentine, Mangene, Stransky, Bystrom, Kiviaho (scratch)
Faksa (injury)

Tonight's attendance was 4,978.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Rockford - April 24 2015

7 comments:

  1. I don't know what to say about the team they iced. I don't even know if the team was the best suited team possible even if you overlooked the lack of experience. They took the heavy bodies out of the lineup and played a hit heavy game plan. If they went light they should of just concentrated on harassing Abbott and not bother with all the other slugs on the team. Kind of a typical Laxdal "What the he'll was he thinking" game.

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  2. Stephen - were the lineup choices left directly up to Laxdal or was there a directive from GM or Dallas Stars organization on playing some guys like Janmark/Backman and starting Jack in game 2?

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  3. Starting Jack was a no-brainer. Rynnas has not found his form since his return from injury, and he blew the first game.

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  4. Development (Published here and at 100Degree)

    Seems to be a hot topic these days after all of us watching the last two Texas Stars playoff loses. I guess for me I fully understand the AHL serves the purpose of developing players so the main team at the next level (NHL) has players that are as close to fully ready as possible when they come to places like Dallas. I guess for me what I fully don’t understand is that development and the Calder Cup chase. Let me also say that none of this are any concerns with the players I mention, just the system.

    During last season’s Calder Cup Championship we had a few younger players that played a Black Ace role that never hit the ice. Alex Guptil is the first one that comes to mind. He signed late in the year out of Michigan but never played in the playoffs. Based on that and the fact that we made the playoffs, I was thinking now that we are in the chase for Calder we would go all out to win it.

    I’m guessing a guy like Greg Rallo signed here not only to keep his career going but to have a legitimate shot at winning the Calder Cup. I know Greg has had some NHL experience but let’s face it there are guys on our team and other AHL teams that will never get a taste of the NHL experience so for them winning the Cup is a BIG DEAL. I recently re-watched the Calder Cup post game celebration from last year and the sheer joy expressed by Hedden, Morin, Max and a few others told me winning that Calder Cup meant a lot so why take that opportunity away from this 2015 bunch or the fans?

    A lot of us season ticket holders and even the casual Stars fans went into this thinking this team was primed to at least compete for the Calder Cup again. It was going to be a more difficult climb then last year but Coach Laxdall had the team playing some very, very good hockey down the stretch. We all knew the Rockford matchup was the worse possible but we still had expectations that maybe we could grab two home wins and steal the series. To do that we needed to play the guys that got us there, Henderson, Troock, Stransky, Smith just to name a few. Again no offense intended but Backman, Dickinson and Jankman looked overwhelmed by the bright lights of the playoff stage.

    In Game 1 when Meech had to sit (congratulations on the new baby) why not play Mangene or Valentine (if he was healthy)? Certainly when Meech came back for Game 2 sitting Backman would have been much easier, just for the sake of dressing 12 forwards. Now I’m not the coach or GM so who knows what went into those decisions.

    I’m just a fan who invests a lot into this team, and I don’t just mean financially. I’m talking time and energy. I was in St. John’s last year and experienced the sheer joy of the Cup celebration. I’ve been on many road trips this year and have seen the team up close and know how competitive and what a great group of guys they are. No one will say anything out loud, but I can’t believe any one in that locker room will be happy with the way this season closes out (assuming we don’t win three in Rockford).

    I have tickets and may still show up to Rockford and I sure hope we re-think our strategy and at least give this great group of guys even a small chance for a three game sweep.

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  5. I would like to hear Stephens "opinion" before finalizing my opinion on it. I doubt much real information will be passed through the direct Stars media channels. I just don't see how anyone could think playing guys with no real experience (and sitting guys who have it) is a good idea in ANY way in a 5 game series against a team that has given us problems, while we were playing well going into the playoffs. Playing "new" guys to get experience is kind of garbage when every year we get head scratching decisions from Dallas on guys they didn't place on the playoff roster who were eligible.

    Again though nothing from Dallas surprises me, you have to be a special kind of poorly ran to miss the playoffs in hockey year after year like they do. They have always made stupid decisions on personnel and management. Since day one I said it was a negative to be tied to Dallas so closely, this is just more proof of that.

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    1. I think you can look at the decision to dress someone like Backman in what was essentially a do-or-die game as something attributable to the Dallas relationship. It cuts both ways, unfortunately.

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    2. I really don't get that. What does putting a guy in one or even two games resolve. It is genuinely idiotic, I would have no problem if the Stars were up 2-0 or 2-1 in a 7 game series but destroying your playoffs for a guy or two who will have plenty of time to be seen over the next six months is the many camps they have. God I hate Dallas and if true Jim Nil is the exact idiot I thought he would be (and hinted on the boards). It's not an accident the Griffins were a wreck while he was there, and won after he left. Every Texas Star fan from here on out needs to start cheering against Dallas, hopefully they will change management.

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