43-24-3-4, 93 pts
#2 Western Conf.
38-28-1-6, 83 pts
#4 Western Conf.
March 31st at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
The last time these two teams met was only a week ago, but my how things have changed. Milwaukee chased Brent Krahn from the net after the first period and rode a three-goal opening frame to a 3-2 victory over the Stars last Tuesday. At the time, Texas held a tenuous lead over Rockford for #2 in the West and Milwaukee had just shut down Houston in two straight to further lock down their playoff chances.
Since then, the Stars left Milwaukee and traveled to Chicago, Grand Rapids, and back to Chicago, collecting three wins and clinching the franchise's first ever playoff berth. Milwaukee, meanwhile, played a home-and-home series with Grand Rapids and came up short in both games.
Elsewhere, don't look now, but the Peoria Rivermen just won three of their last four and are only 3 points behind the Ads for the last playoff spot. Milwaukee plays Peoria twice (5-3 advantage MIL) and Chicago twice (6-1-1 advantage CHI). In fact, the only team that Milwaukee has left on their schedule that they have a winning record against is the IceHogs (5-4), and they only play each other once more.
Texas has a recently minted playoff berth but cannot rest on its laurels with the possibility of sealing first round home ice advantage within their reach. The maximum number of point that Rockford can achieve is 98. With Texas at 93 with 6 games to go, if the Stars can get three more wins, they will have locked up their #2 seed and guaranteed game one will be in Cedar Park.
On to the game at hand though. This will be the eighth and final meeting between these two teams. Texas holds the advantage at 4-3. Stars fans should already be familiar with the top scorers on this team: Mike Santorelli, Robert Dietrich, and Hugh Jessiman. The Predators, who are set to make the playoffs in the NHL, are doing the Ads no favors in terms of call ups. Milwaukee is missing #3 scorer Cal O'Reilly, Colin Wilson, and Nick Spaling due to injuries in Nashville.
As we've mentioned before, Mark "Dex" Dekanich is the top guy in Milwaukee, earning a 24-16-4 record with 2.40 GAA and .912 SV%. Despite this, he has only faced the Stars once, earning a win last week in Milwaukee. Chet Pickard has been the goaltender of record in all six other games between the two teams. On Texas's side, everyone's played against Milwaukee: Matt Climie with 3, Brent Krahn with 2, and Todd Ford with 2 also.
I think tonight's game is a battle of momentum. Texas is rolling, big time. They went out on the road and have won 5 of 6. Tonight is the 7th and last game of the trip and they are facing the only team that beat them. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is staggering into the playoffs, just trying to keep ahead of Peoria. They've just lost two winnable games against a non-playoff team and have perhaps the worst of it still to come. They may play pretty desperately tonight, because the big push has to start somewhere.
Stars injury/call up report:
Wilson (ribs), McCulloch (upper body), Rallo (foot)
Admirals Web Resources:
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Short Shifts (@Short_Shifts)