40-22-13-1, 94 pts
#4 Western Conference
46-23-5-2, 99 pts
#5 Western Conference
Series tied 0-0
April 24th at 7:30 PM
Cedar Park Center, Cedar Park, TX
The Texas Stars welcome you to what Coach Laxdal calls "the best time of the year."
For the fifth time in six years, the Stars make the march to the postseason. With their hashtag as #DefendTheCup, Texas has a target on its back. Rockford is looking to claim the title of giant-killer by knocking off last year's champ in the first round.
With the series distance of 950 miles as the crow flies, Texas will start a best-of-five at home for the first time since the rule change came about. Texas missed the playoffs in 2011-12 and then was the top seed the past two seasons. As has been discussed here each of the past two years, it's paramount for the Stars to take these first two games.
If you want a case study in how important it is to win your home games, look no further than last year's debacle in Manchester. The top-seeded Monarchs decided to give up home-ice advantage and start at home. Norfolk managed to steal one game in New Hampshire and then take two in Virginia. With that, the top seed was out. It was shocking, but it showed how important home ice is. Texas needs to leave for Rockford on Monday with a 2-0 lead. That starts tonight.
The Stars have one unanswered question before morning skate and that's who will start in net. Jussi Rynnas and Jack Campbell both finished the year hot, but Coach Laxdal was mum on who will start Game 1 up to this point. He made his decision yesterday and told the starter last night. More will be known at morning skate.
The IceHogs and Stars are going to be a really tough battle. I spent a lot of time earlier this week talking about Texas peaking at the right time. In actuality, both teams are on incredible runs to end the season. Since March 15th, both teams are 13-4. One thing to note for the Hogs is the loss of a few players to black ace duty in Chicago. Goalie Antii Raanta and defenseman Kyle Cumiskey are both with the parent Blackhawks.
The fact that Raanta and Cumiskey are eating popcorn in the United Center press box instead of lacing up against Texas is a big benefit. Michael Leighton is no slouch, but Raanta was 8-1-1 this year with Rockford. If he were available, you'd have to imagine he'd be starting given he's a future NHL goalie for the Hawks.
Stars injury/call up report:
Faksa (season-ending injury)
Blog (unofficial): Rockford IceHogs Fan Blog