The AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs begin tonight and several Dallas Stars prospects will be taking part as they try to duplicate their phenomenal success from last season that saw them go all the way to the bitter end against the Hershey Bears in the Final.
This year they start against the Milwakuee Admirals (Nashville Predators). While it's no surprise that the Admirals play a defensive style, being linked to the Preds like they are, it is surprising that the Texas Stars play a very structured defensive game as well. The teams are being called mirror images of each other.
Game 1 is tonight in Milwaukee at 7:00pm CDT. If you're a big prospect nerd you can watch it at theahl.com for the steep price of $9.99, or you can purchase the clubs first two rounds for around $40.
Visit our good friend Stephen's Hundred Degree Hockey for more insightful Texas Stars thoughts that we here can provide.
Here are the guys Dallas fans might be the most interested in and what their playoffs might be like...
Philip Larsen: his will be his first North American playoff experience and the smooth skating d-man has not had the breakout year we hoped he would. Much of the talk before the season centered around his elephant gun shot from the point he's displayed in Dallas from time to time and learning how to run a power play for a full season. With only four goals and 18 assists the results are somewhat mixed. He's very young (21). He has time. This experience should help him.
Richard Bachman: At 5' 10" Bachman is not often discussed with the names Tyler Beskorowany and Jack Campbell. The future of the netminder (or indeed the present, see: Pekka Rinne, Kari Lehtonen, etc) in the NHL is big, tall, lanky, athletic dudes. Despite disadvantage in stature, Bachman perseveres and most thought he was the best goaltender in training camp not names Kari Lehtonen. At 23 years old, the clock has not expired on his potential NHL career yet. Size or no size, if you get it done you're going to get a look and this is only his rookie AHL year. Texas will put a lot of pressure on him to win with their defensive style of play.
After the jump, Scott Glennie, Tomas Vincour and more...
Scott Glennie: Newly arrived from Juniors after his Brandon team finished their post-season play, Scott Glennie has spent a couple of games with Texas in a 4th line role and will probably see limited ice time in the playoffs. This is serious business for Glen Gulutzan and if he doesn't have a trust in Glennie to play their structured game (and why would he at this point?) then he's likely not going to put him out there enough to see the kind of tangible results Dallas fans would like. Still, it's a good experience that stretches his season.
Tomas Vincour: We know Mr. Vincour much better now. We know his game is better suited for the NHL, for whatever reason, but we also hope he can take what he learned here and the experience gained back to Texas and become more of an impact player for them on the score sheet. His confidence (and his wallet) should both be pretty inflated from a lengthy stint with the big club. Go put it to good use, Jamie Benn style.
Others: 22 year old Forward Ondrej Roman had a 22 point first season in the AHL. Stars fans might have hoped for more, but there's still time for him. 20 year old defensman Brenden Dillon was undrafted and signed by the Stars to an entry level deal. He recently joined the team after his junior season completed and has seen ice time down the stretch as they rested guys (Fortunus) and Lukowich was with Dallas. I don't know how much he'll play in the playoffs but he could be a good long term project for the Stars.