You'll have to excuse me if I take a eulogistic tone tonight with this one. This series is not over. Texas has already proved they can win games on the road against tough competition in these playoffs. They found themselves in exactly this position against Hamilton and pulled it out in seven games. The fat lady is not singing. She's still at the buffet table.
However, after witnessing a touching farewell ovation from the Cedar Park fans I nevertheless feel a little sad and an air of finality after tonight's contest. The series may not be over, but the Texas Stars home season has come to a close for the first time and it was something I was glad to be a part of. The community here in Cedar Park (yes, this was written in a Cedar Park hotel room) feels older than a season. There's traditions that have been established. They have funny bits they do and routines...it doesn't feel like a base of people trying to find their way in hockey fandom. They've really arrived and it's been plain to see in these playoffs that the Texas Stars fit Cedar Park like a glove.
Hats off to all involved in putting this franchise together, designing the venue and building a community. I think they are well on their way to a long and healthy tenure here. Hopefully full of further lengthy playoff runs.
As for the game itself... Well, that's not the ending we had scripted, is it? There was some consternation amongst some fans before the game regarding the goatlending position...
It seemed a fair question to ask, and coach Gulutzan's choice to actually dress Krahn tonight seemed to back that up a little bit, or at least imply that Climie's leash could possibly be a little short should the game tip a certain way. Matt Climie was having none of it. No offense to Brent Krahn, I'm sure, but Matt Climie takes a lot of pride in having gotten the team as far as he has and he'd rather just go ahead and keep the job himself. His night was a very strong one, equaling his competition on the other end of the ice save for save until the very end. It would seem an injustice that he held the Bears to only 1 goal through 60 minutes and he was unable to get the win.
The loss of Andrew Hutchinson continues to sting Texas on the blue line, but they handled the Hershey forecheck at least marginally better than on Wednesday night. The turnover bug luckily infected not only Texas but Hershey as well, but it wasn't enough to produce more than one goal.
Which leads us to the offense. While Hershey cycled and pressured, the Texas offensive chances came in more of a one and done fashion once again. Jamie Benn continued to look tired, and the power play opportunities were few and far between. For both teams. The difference between the last 3 games and the first 2 is the disparity in goals for. They need more.
Francis Wathier is fun to watch in person. He's a big presence out there and he can really use it when he wants to.
Aaron Gagnon's commitment to shot blocking is nothing less than complete. He throws his entire self into it with no regard for his safety or discomfort. It's really refreshing to see that heart.
Garrett Stafford makes me nervous sometimes when he decides to pinch and not pinch.
That's all I've got. It's time to put this bed I'm typing on to good use and sleep. You've done well, Stars. Remember that. At the very least, you've entertained us well into June, and I certainly thank you for that.