Gameday Preview: Texas Stars v. Toronto Marlies, Game 4

Texas Stars
38-24-8-6, 90 pts, 0.592
#2 Pacific Division
v.Toronto Marlies
40-28-4-4, 90 pts, 0.579
#1 North Division
June 7th at 7:00 PM
H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, Cedar Park, TX

Toronto leads 2-1
(credit: Derek Sparta/Texas Stars)
If the Texas Stars are to even the series up in the Calder Cup Final in game 4, they must find a way to overcome the crowded ice that the Toronto Marlies create and find some offense. Scoring one goal isn't going to cut it against such competition. 

"We didn’t generate a lot of offense," said head coach Derek Laxdal after the game 3 defeat.  "[Toronto] had a lot of zone time, but we did a good job defending, not giving up a lot of scoring chances. I thought we probably didn’t have the same amount of guys going as we did in Toronto."

Goaltender Mike McKenna is still doing his part with a .933 SP in the playoffs. The Stars simply need to help him out with goal support throughout the lineup. Could Denis Gurianov find his way back on the ice with scoring at a premium? Laxdal hasn't been afraid to make strategic tweaks in his lines in these playoffs. It will be an interesting storyline to follow.

The penalty situation didn't favor the Stars either in game 3. In order to generate more offense, the Stars cannot afford to only rely on even strength play. They also must keep their cool should they receive the same dearth of calls on Thursday. "You talk about playing whistle to whistle, control your emotions, don’t let your emotions control you," said Laxdal. "It’s playoffs. They’re up 2-1 in the series; they’re a good team, they’re up for a reason. Our job is to respond Thursday night."

One final key in game 4 is crisp passing on zone exits to stave off the fast skating and blistering forecheck of the Marlies. That's going to fall on the blue liners, according to Laxdal.

"I thought our back end as a whole was just okay [in game 3]. There were probably two or three guys that were solid and the other guys struggled. That’s part of the pressure forecheck from Toronto. I expect our group to be better as the series goes along."

The puck drops at 7:00 PM CDT.

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