A 2-0 lead in the Finals only to lose in 6 games?
Stop me if you've heard this one before, Dallas fans. (Should I say us Mavericks fans?)
The Texas Stars have made an improbable run to these Calder Cup Finals, knocking off higher seeds in the Western division and winning two game seven's on the road to get here, but find themselves once again facing elimination after having lost three straight home games at Cedar Park Center.
Winning games six and seven on the road is not a foreign concept. The Stars beat the Hamilton Bulldogs in similar fashion to gain access to these Finals, but these are the Hershey Bears. The defending AHL champion Hershey Bears. If they're able to win it tonight, it would be their second straight and third in five years.
As I wrote on Friday night after game 5, the loss of Hutchinson on the blue line and a tired Jamie Benn have the Stars looking like anything but the team that navigated their way to a 2-0 Calder Cup Final lead. Matt Climie's continued strong play, while questioned by some, was key in keeping Texas in the game on Friday and a low scoring game will once again be needed tonight.
As always, and hopefully NOT for the final time this season, I invite you to check out Hundred Degree Hockey for Stephen's Texas Stars coverage. Here's a sampling:
Perhaps with three games in Texas under their belt, the Stars can take advantage of the Bears defensemen getting overconfident and jumping into the play and create odd-man rushes if they are disciplined on the breakout.
What to do in net has been a question for the Stars for some of the series. Matt Climie has earned the right to play in Game 6 with his play through previous series and in Hershey early in this series. Even Friday's Game 5, in which he was named the second star, was a great goaltending effort. The other guy was just one shot better. Coach Gulutzan can't chance Game 6 of the Calder Cup finals on a goaltender coming off of a concussion. He would have to be 120% confident in Krahn to do it and have doubts about Climie's play. I don't think either is true, so 33 gets the start. [HDH]
After the jump, the official AHL notes on game 6, and I invoke the Al Pacino speech...
GAME NOTES (all times ET):
Game 6 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00 (HER leads series, 3-2)
TV: NHL Network, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic (DirecTV 642, Dish 424), ABC-27 Harrisburg
Satellite Radio: XM 204, Sirius 208
Video Webcast: AHL Live (www.ahllive.com)
Hershey is one win away from capping off a record-setting season with a championship, returning home for Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals after winning all three games in Texas last week... The Bears, who are on the verge of becoming the AHL’s first repeat champions since the Springfield Indians won in 1990 and 1991, took a thrilling Game 5 on Friday night, 2-1, on Alexandre Giroux’s goal 13:28 into overtime... It was Hershey’s eighth OT win of the 2010 playoffs and Giroux’s fifth career playoff OT goal, extending a pair of AHL records... Giroux (14-11-25) also became the third player in AHL history with 50 career playoff goals, joining Darren Haydar (59) and Jody Gage (51)... Hershey’s top defensive tandem of John Carlson and Karl Alzner – both former first-round draft picks by the parent Washington Capitals – picked up the assists on the game-winner… Francois Bouchard (5-5-10) scored in regulation for Hershey on Friday, his third goal of the Finals and fifth of the playoffs... Chris Bourque (7-20-27) picked up an assist to claim sole possession of the league postseason scoring lead... Michal Neuvirth (13-4, 2.18, .916) finished with 35 saves to earn his fourth consecutive road win, and stopped all 36 Texas shots in the third period and overtime of Games 3-5... Neuvirth has now made as many career appearances – 39 – in the playoffs (29-10, 2.03, .925, 4 SO) as in the regular season (24-11-2, 2.45, .916, 2 SO) for the Bears... Keith Aucoin (2-23-25), who had an assist in Game 5, leads all scorers with 1-5-6 in the series... Aaron Gagnon (8-4-12) had the only Texas goal in Game 5, redirecting home a Dan Jancevski (1-11-12) shot on a first-period power play... The Stars have scored with the man advantage in four consecutive games... Matt Climie (7-6, 2.71, .916) made 41 saves on Friday night, his third game this postseason with 40-plus saves and just two goals against... Brent Krahn (7-3, 2.32, .928) served as Climie’s backup in Game 5, dressing for the first time since being injured in Game 6 at Chicago on May 9... Jamie Benn (14-12-26) has been held to 0-2-2 in the series after recording 14-10-24 in 18 games over the first three rounds... The team scoring first is just 1-4 in the Finals, and all five games have been tied entering the third period... Hershey trailed beyond the midway point of the second period in all three games at the Cedar Park Center but rallied for their 10th, 11th, and 12th come-from-behind wins of the postseason... The Bears, who have won 75 of their 100 games since opening night, are the first team to win three road contests in a single Finals series since Adirondack (four) and St. John’s (three) combined to win all seven games of the 1992 Finals on the road... Hershey had won 13 straight and 37 of 38 at home before losing Games 1 and 2 to Texas... The Bears have not clinched a Calder Cup title on home ice since 1980, when they defeated the New Brunswick Hawks in Game 6 at Hersheypark Arena; Hershey won the Cup on the road in 1988 (Fredericton), 1997 (Hamilton), 2006 (Milwaukee) and 2009 (Manitoba)… The Bears are 10-12 all-time with a chance to clinch a Calder Cup championship... Texas is already 3-0 when facing elimination this postseason, winning Game 7 at Chicago in the second round and taking Games 6 and 7 of the conference finals in Hamilton... This is the third consecutive Finals series to go six games; there has not been a Game 7 since 2003 (Houston vs. Hamilton).