There was an assumption at the beginning of the hockey season that the lower levels of the Stars organization would be employing a style similar to Joe Nieuwendyk and Marc Crawford's philosophy: Puck possession, up-tempo, pro-active offense, etc. The season long style of play may have transformed over the months, but two games into the Calder Cup Finals the Stars are doing something that would make Dave Tippett a very happy man.
Texas goaltender Matt Climie told the Austin Statesman "Our team is sticking to the same game plan we've had all year. We respect their offense, but our defense has been solid. Our offense just waits for opportunities to arise."
Perhaps if faced with an offense that had scored over 100 more goals than his team in the regular season, Marc Crawford would change things up too, but we won't know that until the Stars get back into the tournament some day. Call me an old fashioned, Stars traditionalist, but I like this shot-blocking, safe approach to taking down the Hershey Bears, (maybe just because it's working). Of course there comes a time when teams playing this style fall behind and need to switch gears to manufacture offense. Can the Stars keep it close enough to avoid playing a loosey-goosey game of chicken with the Hershey Bears?
For now, we give credit to Coach Gulutzan for adjusting his recipe to fit the proverbial ingredients on his table. Such an adjustment at the NHL level, while appealing in principal, likely isn't the answer given the disparity in talent (relative to the level of competition). Meaning, of course, that if Dallas were to try to win like this, we don't think it would work.
As always, please visit Stephen at Hundred Degree Hockey for Texas Stars coverage, who knows that Jamie Benn is due for a big game sooner or later:
Currently in the series, Jamie Benn only has 1 point, a secondary assist to the Stars first goal on Saturday night. In each series, Benn has had a breakout game: Game 3 against Rockford was a four point effort; Benn's five point night in Texas against Chicago for Game 5; and two two-goal games against Hamilton (1 and 4). While it is pretty clear that the Stars can score goals without Benn, he will undoubtedly have one of these breakout type games sometime in this series.
More links after the jump...
Visit the Austin Statesman, who has a good story on Texas rookie Travis Morin:
"(The Bears) won the championship then, so they knew what they were doing," Morin said. "But for whatever reason, they just didn't give me a chance."
Now Morin has the Stars lined up for the greatest upset in AHL history. Twenty-four points separated the teams at the end of the regular season, which would make Texas the largest underdog ever to win the AHL title.
The Hawks were struggling in Philly to get much offense going until the 3rd period of game 4 when they adjusted all their lines.
They decided that they didn't want to have their Stanley Cup dreams end without trying everything. So they took their top line and broke them up. And they didn't just switch a player here or there...they took Byfuglien, Kane, and Toews and put them on 3 separate lines.
And guess what....IT WORKED!
The official Hershey web site makes a good point:
No team in AHL history has ever won a Cup after losing Game 1 and Game 2 of the best-of-seven series at home, but that's the spot the BEARS are in heading into Monday's Game 3.
Sounds good to me.
Here's some of the AHL official game notes:
STARS TAKE 2-0 SERIES LEAD IN THE CALDER CUP FINALS
GAME 3 IS MONDAY AT CEDAR PARK CENTER AT 7:30 PM
Hershey, PA - The Texas Stars defeated the Hershey Bears 4-3 on Saturday night in front of 10,872 fans at the Giant Center in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals. Texas forward Travis Morin scored the game-winning goal with 46 seconds remaining in the contest, giving the Stars the victory and a 2-0 series lead heading home for Game 3 on Monday at Cedar Park Center. Listen here! Forwards Aaron Gagnon and Mathieu Beaudoin also scored as Texas improved to 8-4 on the road in the playoffs. Stars defenseman Garrett Stafford also netted a goal, as Texas handed Hershey the first set of back-to-back regulation losses at home this year (playoffs and regular season). Texas goalie Matt Climie (7-4) made 25 saves, helping the team to its fourth straight victory. Hershey forwards Steve Pinizzotto, Andrew Gordon and Francois Bouchard each scored in the loss. Hershey goalie Michal Neuvirth (10-4) stopped 19 Texas shots in the defeat.
* Texas scored the game's first goal for the first time in 11 playoff games on Saturday night. The Stars are 7-1 in the playoffs when opening the scoring.
* The road team has won every game once in the Calder Cup Finals (Adirondack def. St. John's, 1992).
* The Calder Cup has been won on home ice 46 of 73 times (63.0%).