Texas Stars set to

The best-of-seven series opens Friday night at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. The
winner will move on to the Calder Cup Finals against the winner of the Eastern
Conference Finals between Hershey and Manchester.
Hamilton, the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, racked up a conference-best
115 points during the regular season.
"We're expecting a long, hard series," said Texas defenseman Dan Jancevski, who
won a Calder Cup with Hamilton in 2007. "We know they are going to grind it out
and play a tough defensive game."
Hamilton and Texas ranked first and second, respectively, in goals against
average this season and they are both in the top four during the playoffs.
"I'm sure we're both hoping to play tight defensively," said Texas coach Glen
Gulutzan. "I think that's the way it's going to be. We have to be disciplined.
They're disciplined. I think it should be low scoring the way statistics line
up. It 's probably going to be the team that plays closest to its identity for
the duration of the series that is going to come out of here."
Both teams can score as well. Texas is third in playoff goal scoring at 3.55 per
game and Hamilton ranks fourth at 3.33 per game.
"They have a skilled set of forwards," said Jancevski. "They play a different
system in their defensive zone coverage where they kind of swarm the puck, so
we've got to limit the turnovers and play smart hockey."
Both teams have injury issues. Texas goaltender Brent Krahn, who missed Game 7
of the West Division Finals against Chicago with a concussion, will not be ready
to start the series but could be ready when the series comes to Cedar Park next
"We'll get Krahn back at some point, but not for the first two games," said
Gulutzan. "After that it gets close to the probability of yes."
Matt Climie is expected to get the start in Friday's series opener and Richard
Bachman, called up from Idaho of the ECHL, will be the back up. Climie got the
start in the Game 7 overtime win over Chicago, stopping 24 of 29 shots.
"Going into a Game 7 there is a lot pressure. I made some big saves and at the
same time I feel I can improve and keep getting better as I get more shots and
more minutes," Climie said. "I've just got to continue to grow and give my team
a chance to win every time I am in between the pipes."
As for the Bulldogs, they ended the last series with just five healthy
defensemen. They have three injured blueliners and another - P.K. Subban - who
is currently playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with Montreal.
"They play such good structure. We're just going to play our game," said
Gulutzan. "We have to be aware of some of the good things they do, but we want
to be heavy on their D. Our heavy guys have to be heavy, our skilled guys have
to be skilled. That's kind of the way we've played every series. Every coach in
every locker room is preaching to get on their D. It's going to be the same them
and the same for us."
The Stars know this could be their toughest series yet, but they also know
that's the way it goes in the playoffs. It gets tougher as you move along.
"Games get hard, series get harder. We know it's going to be hard," said Texas
defenseman Maxime Fortunus. "Hamilton's a team that skates really hard and they
put a lot of pressure on you. They're a well-balanced team. But it's going to be
all about us. We're not focusing too much on what they're doing but what we're
going to do on the ice."
The Benn factor
It's no secret that forward Jamie Benn is having a big impact in the Calder Cup
Playoffs for the Texas Stars. Benn, assigned to Texas after a full season with
Dallas in the NHL, is tied for third in points (15) and is fourth in goals (8)
in the AHL playoffs.
Benn's impact has caught the attention of Hamilton coach Guy Boucher.
"They're a very balanced team but they rely a lot on their defensive game. But
since [Jamie] Benn has been there he's really putting up the numbers. He's
really brought some offense to them," Boucher told the Hamilton Spectator.
The impact of Benn was something that came up when Texas Stars coach Glen
Gulutzan talked to the media in Hamilton on Thursday.
"He's been huge. There's no hiding the fact," said Gulutzan. "He's an impact
player at the NHL level, right? So obviously he's an impact player here. He's
been tremendous for us. The biggest part with Jamie Benn is he's vested with us.
He's here to play."
Playoff stats matchup
Goals For3.553.33
Goals Against2.642.67
Shots For30.032.4
Shots Against33.528.8
Power Play 19.6 (9-46)20.0 (14-70)
Penalty Kill 73.8% (31-42)78.2 (43-55)
Regular season stats matchup
Standings99 points/2nd West Division115 points/1st North Division
Goals For2.98 (12th)3.39 (3rd)
Goals Against2.48 (2nd)2.28 (1st)
Shots For26.9 (29th)32.5 (3rd)
Shots Against31.7 (21st)25.5 (1st)
Power Play 19.1% (9th)17.6 (13th)
Penalty Kill 86.4% (2nd)85.4 (6th)
Series schedule
GameDayDateTeamsTime (CT)
1Fri.May 14Texas at Hamilton6:30
2Sun.May 16Texas at Hamilton1:00
3Wed.May 19Hamilton at Texas7:30
4Fri.May 21Hamilton at Texas7:30
*5Sat.May 22Hamilton at Texas7:00
*6Mon.May 24Texas at Hamilton6:30
*7Wed.May 26Texas at Hamilton6:30
*If necessary