Monday, March 30, 2009

CHL Playoffs early thoughts and Dallas Stars OffSeason needs

A couple of games into the playoffs for the Central Hockey League and a few thoughts about the playoffs so far. For the Texas Brahmas, the favorites going into the Southern Conference and they have won 2 close games against the RG Valley Killer Bees with the scores of 4-2 and 5-4, the top scoreer has been Jason Deitsch with 2G and 3A while the top goal scoreer Tyler Skworchinski with 3 goals so far in the playoffs. In the 1st game, the Brahmas pretty much had the game in control as the Brahmas were up 3-1 midway through the game and their defense was really good execpt for a Grant Gockner-Zoller goal with 13 minutes left in the game and then Texas came back just 3 minutes later with Tyler Skworchinski midway through the 3rd period and then Brahmas goalie Brett Jeager kept up the 4-2 mark to win game 1 in North Richaland Hills.

Game 2 was the next night and once again the Brahmas looked strong as the won again 5-4 and which included scoring twice late in the 1st period after Killer Bees forward Brennan Sarazin scored to give the games 1st goal to give them the lead. After that, Greg Mcconnell and Brandon Bennedict scored just over a minute later to go up 2-1. A wild 2nd period which included all sorts of penalties from several upsportsmanlike conduct penalties and slashing penalties opened up the scoring where Matt Byrnes scored to tie at 2-2 then the Brahmas scored 3 unanswered goals from Brandon Bennedict, and Jason Deitsch in the 2nd period and then early in the 3rd period Tyler Skworchinski made it 5-2. However, the Killer Bees Gockner-Zoller and Rankin scored to make it 5-4 and made it intresting near the end of the game but once again Brahmas goalie Brett Jeager came up big again to keep the win for the Brahmas and a 2-0 series lead. Today was a travel day for the two teams and the series will shift to the Dodge Center in Rio Grande City comming up on April 1.

Looking at this series, the Brahmas are showing their experience espically on goaltending where the Brahmas in which they are making a ton of big saves and getting a lot of help from their defense where they have only seen 20 and 21 shots on goal through the 1st 2 games. If the Brahmas goalies can step it up, it's seen that the Brahmas could end up being the Preisdents Cup Championship come May. Rio Grande Valley have had a great team with a lot of young talent and came back big time after finishing last in the Southern Conference last season. Their time to be a contender to win big is comming, just not right now.

Game 1 Report:

Game 2 Report:

A bit of a surprise so far in the Odessa Jackalopes VS. Laredo Bucks series where the Laredo Bucks won both games in Odessa to take a 2-0 series lead. This may be an issue of where the Southwest with the execption of the Jackalopes who won the division, might have been the weakest in the league this season where the other teams in the Southwest, the New Mexico Scorpions, Arizona Sundogs and Amarillo Gorillas all missed the playoffs. Amarillo finshied last in the Southern Confernce, New Mexico weren't much better and Arizona just missed the playoffs.

For Laredo, both games have been low scoring games where game 1 went to OT where James Hiebert opened the scoring late in the 1st, then Bobby Russell made it 2-0 midway through the game into the PP. Laredo has a ton of playoff experience and it shouldn't be left out. The 2nd game was a cake walk as the Bucks jumped the Jackalopes early as they went up 3-0 and scoring 2 of them late in the 1st period with both goals comming from Darryl Smith. After a slow 2nd period, the Bucks scored twice more in the 3rd to cement the 5-1 win. For the Jackalopes it was a pretty forgetable game where nothing went right which includes a dismal performance on the PP. If Odessa is going get back in this series, they will have to do back on the road and with the road record performance, the Jackalopes road record this year was 19-10-3 but most of the road wins came early in the season. For Odessa to comeback in this series, the offense needs to improve and I think they have the shot to do it with players like the CHL Scoring Champion Sebastien Thinel with 97 points but he's been no where to be seen in the playoffs so far, just one assist back in game one. If he dosen't get going and provide to his teammates, the Jackalopes will sink quickly.

Game 1 Report:

Game 2 Report:

Up in the northeast between the Mississippi Riverkings and Oklahoma City Blazers are currently tied at 1-1 apeice. In the first game, OKC Forward Ted Vandermeer scored the game winner to get the first game on the road. Then in game 2, Mississippi Riverkings came back and won 5-3 in a strong fashion which included 5 goals from 5 different players on the Riverkings in which the Riverkings scored 2 goals in 2 minutes in the 1st period with scoreeers comming from Darrell Stoddard and Jeff Alcombrack to score to set the stage for the Riverkings to help out after the OT Loss to Oklahoma City. For Mississippi, players like Martin Gascon and Louis Dumont who were both the top scoreers during the regular season and will be in what I will think it will be a long series and possibly the best of the Conference Semifinals in which the winner will play either the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs or the Colorado Eagles. Speaking of that series, the Colorado Eagles won game 1 of a very competivie game 4-3 over Bossier-Shreveport and game 2 is tonight.

Dallas Stars End of Season Needs

Tonight, the Stars will play the Phoenix Coyotes will be about to start up in Phoenix tonight, after losing 6 in a row. I'm offically counting the Stars are out of the playoff race, not only are the Stars 8 points out with 7 to play, their 5 points back of Minnesota for 11th place and starting to lose ground on the pack. Over the weekend, the Stars have called up Dan Jancevski from the Hamilton Bulldogs and Garrett Stafford from Grand Rapids under "Emergency Conditions" for basically the rest of the season. Jancevski has scored 28 points in 72 games this season, while Stafford has 42 points in 67 games this season for their AHL Teams. Looking at their stats, the only reason they have called up these players is because of all the injuries they have right now and haven't even sniffed an NHL Roster very much in their careers so don't expect much from them.

A couple of things I would like to see the Stars do is to call up one of their AHL Goalies to give Marty Turco a rest and see what they have in the minor league ranks to see if they have a chance to make the Stars roster in the future or if they need to get a trade done or work someone through free agaency this off season. Tobais Stephen needs to go and it appears he's going to get the start tonight against the Coyotes, this is just to give Marty a rest who has played a league high 71 games and over 4,000 minutes this season. All the playing has just tired him out as he only has a .897 SV% but a respectable 2.84 GAA this season.

Also, I would like some anwsers from Brett Hull on bringing in Sean Avery last summer. It was totally his idea to convince the Stars Org. to bring in Avery to be a pest and one of the few pieces left on what the staff thought could possibly make them a Stanley Cup Contender this season. Espically because we already had a player in Steve Ott who was becomming a pretty good pest for the Stars and is also finding ways to incrase his scoring. Reguardless of what you think of him, he was a big distraction in the locker room early on in the season and everyone knows about the sloopy seconds comment in Calgary back in December that got him basically off the team and out of the league from December through the end of Feb. Other then that, they don't need to do a lot when it comes down to major changes to the roster over the course of the off season. He was apart of the reason why the Stars got off to a bad start because of the distraction and antics off the ice that gathered attention away from the ice.

Finally, I know he's unavailable due to the WHL Playoffs, but if he were able to bring him down. I would like to see how ready for the NHL the teams top prospect Jamie Benn is. He's having a great season for the WHL's Kelowna Rockets and are preparing for the WHL Conference Semifinals series against the Tri-City Americans. It would be good to see if he may be ready for the NHL next season or if he needs to spend some time with the Stars AHL Affliate in Austin at least for a little while next season. He's one of the fastest players in the WHL right now and finished 15th overall in league scoring and is also heating up in the playoffs where he scored 10 points in the 1st round victory against the Kamloops Blazers.

News and Notes

The North American Hockey League regular season ended last night and the league's only Texas team in the league, the Wichita Falls Wildcats finished the regular season with a 24-25-9 record in which the Wildcats will be the #3 seed in the South Division. It's going to be a a tough road as they will face a Topeka Roadrunners team who won the South Division last year and want's to get back for a chance to win the Robertson Cup Championship. I'm not surprised that it didn't matter who the Wildcats would play as both the St. Louis Bandits and Topeka Roadrunners have the #1 and #2 overall records from the regular season.

As for the worst team, the Albert Lea Thunder finished the regular season with just 4 wins and their total record was a dismal 4-49-5 record for just 13 points and they scored just 108 goals while giving up 304 this season. (a -196 GD).

The 1st round schedules haven't been announced yet, but here's the Division Semifinal Matchups.

North Division

#1 USNTDP VS. #4 Alpena Ice Diggers
#2 Mahoning Valley Phantoms VS. #3 Traverse City North Stars

Central Division

#1 Bismarck Bobcats VS. #4 Alexandria Blizzard
#2 North Iowa Outlaws VS. #3 Owatonna Express

South Division

#1 St. Louis Bandits VS. #4 Springfield (Ill.) Jr. Blues
#2 Topeka Roadrunners VS. #3 Wichita Falls Wildcats

West Division

#1 Fairbanks Ice Dogs VS. #4 Kenai River Brown Bears
#2 Wenatchee Wild VS. #3 Alaska Avalanche

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