Gameday Preview: Stars v. Toronto Marlies, Game 7

Texas Stars
48-18-3-7, 106 pts
#1 Western Conference
v.Toronto Marlies
45-25-2-4, 96 pts
#3 Western Conference
Series tied 3-3

June 3rd at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX

Last night the Marlies had their backs against the wall. Tonight, the Stars will join them.

"[Character] is always revealed in big games," said Coach Desjardins after last night's loss. "[In Game 7], we know what we need to do, and we just have to find a way to do it."

It is the first elimination game for the Texas Stars this postseason and the first Game 7 at Cedar Park Center in franchise history. The Stars have played two Game 7s before, both on the road, and won them. The last time they did was a 4-2 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs in Ontario to advance to the Calder Cup Finals.

Toronto has also played two Game 7s in franchise history, winning both. Only one team can remain unbeaten in Game 7s after tonight though.

This series has shown so well that the Stars are a team based on speed. The Marlies have taken huge advantage of that. Clogging lanes and taking away passes for Texas. Especially with the lead, Toronto is very happy to sit back and be opportunistic with their offense. With the first goal in the bag at even strength last night, their remaining two goals were on the power play and on an odd-man rush. Yes, the first goal would be the best possible thing to happen for Texas. It would make Toronto play from behind, which is something they aren't as good at. If the first goal comes for Toronto, the key is not to panic. They key is to play their game. The key is to execute on the plan that they've had all year.

Another place where the Stars can improve and must is the power play. Going 1-for-8 last night brought their series total to 3-for-33 or 9.1%. That is just over a third of their regular season percentage (25.3%). The Marlies are doing well to clog the middle of the ice, preventing cross ice passes that the Stars love so much on the power play. This keeps things at the perimeter, necessarily lowering shot quality. They are also aggressive at the point. In the overload with one man at the point, Toronto has a better chance at shorthanded rushes with this aggressiveness. Of course, it can also bite them if the Stars could get interior on the net. Their success in the series with the 5-on-4 advantage has come on the overload from the trigger man on the left wing circle. Mueller scored there in Game 1 and Ritchie did in Game 2. With men up the middle, that's an ideal way to score. However, you have to get the puck to the man on the wing without allowing the goalie enough time to adjust. That's the rub.

Taylor Peters was hurt in last night's game in the second period. He did not play in the third, and his status is questionable for tonight. If Texas loses him, Derek Hulak would be his likely replacement. That is a blow to the ability of the fourth line to match physically with the Marlies. That line did not have success in Game 1. However, given that it's Game 7, Justin Dowling could be a factor. The center was injured against Grand Rapids but was skating with other scratches yesterday in morning skate. If there is any chance he can be effective, I think you have to use him. Before injury, he was a point per game player in the postseason. The physicality of the series might point away from subjecting him to action too early, but if you don't win, there's no tomorrrow anyways...

Stars injury/call up report:
Klingberg, Campbell, Petersen (injury)
Dowling, Peters (questionable)

Blog (official): Marlies Blog
Play by play voice: @HockeyCrock
Leafs TV correspondent: @HockeyAbbs
Twitter: @TorontoMarlies


  1. The number of turnovers in the defensive zone and especially the neutral zone were maddening. When the Marlies stick to their game the Stars are outmatched. Nilstorp taking that roughing penalty was selfish, unnecessary and ultimately cost them the game. Road teams generally win game 7's (look at the NHL this season for reference 6/7). Fully expect a Stars loss, likely by a large margin.

  2. I understand your reference to recent stats in Game 7's. However, I completely disagree with your outlook for tonight. The Marlies were against the wall last night and came out with more desperation in their game. I expect a different Stars team tonight. They don't lose often at home and certainly don't lose two in a row very often. I think they will break the trend and get the first goal tonight. Things will roll on from there.

  3. Nilstorp has to worry more about holding his own and not being the tough guy, it was a stupid penalty. This series has been frustrating in the sense the Stars have been able to be knocked off their game several times. The loses they have aren't close loses they are embarrassing loses. After thinking it over I can only come up with the assumption the Stars style and personnel are based on speed, energy, and details that take concentration. In this series they games have been one after another and quick travel, 7 games in 12 nights isn't complimentary to a high energy style. While Toronto's style more closely reflects our 2009-2010 Calder Cup team in they rely on opportunity and capitalizing on mistakes as well as leaning on the best goal tending in the playoffs. Although our 2009-2010 team took a different route to meet the end means than Toronto is doing I think it still is a accurate comparison.

    Our 2009-2010 was eventually beat out because our goal tending gold mine ran it's course. I'm pretty sure we have a good chance of seeing that tonight with Toronto, MacIntyre is due a bad game and he has to be pretty worn out as well.

    If Texas scores first we should win. If Texas gets in that 50 shot mark we should win. Nilstrop needs to steal a game this series he just hasn't been all that special. Our Vets like Mueller, Morin, and Jeffrey need to take control of this team and start leading. Turn our faceoff win % and Special teams play around and we should win. Texas is a better team but they to this point in this series have looked like they could very well lack the heart of a champion, while Toronto being an inferior team does poses some of that moxie that makes a champ of an underdog.

  4. I hope you are right, pal. I want nothing more than for the Stars to win. If I were a betting man, I put my money on MacIntyre to steal this series and maybe even the Cup.

  5. Home teams in the NHL have a .586 winning percentage all time in game 7's. Nilstorp did what he needed to do. The Stars have been trying to skate away all series and it has done no good. The amount of garbage after the whistle and the terrible calls on the ice are making a difference in the series. Talked to Wathier the other night and he said it was the same in the Milwaukee series. Lots of stuff after the whistles and then lots of diving leading to Toronto PP. The Marlies led the Western Conference in PIMs this past season averaging 21.6 minutes a game, in the playoffs they are at 11 minutes a game. A team does not just change the way they play that quick, the difference is the lack of officiating. The Stars need to play mean and angry, anyone near the net should be on their butts, anyone comes near Nilstorp they go down. Its not like they are going to get called. Dave Lewis made a terrible call on Ranford and watched the replay on the big screen. He knew he blew the call and they tried to even it up by calling 7 penalties in a row on Toronto. Too little to late. Whoever wins this thing better put their big boy pants on as the remaining 2 teams in the east are racking up the PIMs. TEX has 156 in 15 games, TOR has 144 in 13 games while St Johns has racked up 255 in 15 games and Wilkes-Barre is playing old time hockey with 312 in 16 games.


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