Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dallas Stars Upcomming Road Trip, Central Hockey League Playoff Race and Welcome to the Blog

Before I write about the Dallas Stars recent home stand, I would like to welcome you to my blog that will entilted "Texas Ice Hockey Expert". This blog will feature ice hockey news, commentary, and features from players, teams and leagues from around the state of Texas.

The Recent Dallas Stars homestead which ended Sunday with a 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh. That was the teams 5th stright home loss, something that the Dallas Stars have never done in their team's history in Texas. Currently the Dallas Stars sit in 11th place in the Western Conference and would be out of the playoffs. The good news is that with the very tight race in the Western Conference, they are just 2 points behind the Anaheim Ducks for 8th place, but are just 4 points ahead of Los Angeles which currently sit 13th place. This is imporant because they are going to play both teams along with the San Jose Sharks on their California road trip comming up this week and if they contuine this slide, they could find themselves falling behind this tight pack which the gap between 5th place (Vancouver) and 13th Place (Los Angeles) is only 11 points right now.

They recently acquried Montreal Center Steve Begin (Pronunced Bay Zhin) in exchange Dallas Stars Defensemen Doug Janik to help with their offense, he's a pretty fast guy but the Stars needed to get someone to help out on the PP Espically with Brad Richards out. With about 20 games left in the season, the Stars need some offensive fire power with Brendan Morrow, Brad Richards, Landon Wilson, and Sergei Zubov are all out with injury with Morrow and Zubov basically done for the season, even though Morrow could be back if the Stars make the Playoffs.

Here's a story from the Dallas Stars Website regaurding Steve Begin: www.dallasstars.com/team/app?articleid=411356&page=NewsPage&service=page

Marty Turco finnally got a rest on Sunday, but backup Tobais Stephen basically did no good to help the team in his first start since mid December. Stephen has only played in 8 games this season and only has 1 win in his 8 starts and has a very weak 3.47 GAA and a .878 SVS% which will not cut it in the NHL. This is an area that the Stars need to look at come the offseason because Stephen is already 25 years old and is not living up to when he was the Stars 2nd round draft pick back in 2002. Turco needs to step it up if the Stars are going to have a shot at the playoffs this season, however, with the deep hole they dug early in the year and with the Sean Aver Situation with that being a horrible nightmare. They played extremly well in December and January, but after the All Star break was when the injury situation started to happen. This hole may just be too deep to come off and don't be surprise if they find themselves planning an early off season come April. I do think they can still make the playoffs, but they need to end this losing streak against the Sharks tonight to do it, if they don't play well in California this week. You could put their playoff hopes on ice for this season.

In the Central Hockey League, with about just 2 and half weeks left in the Central Hockey League Hockey Season. Serveral teams from the Lone Star State are looking towards post season sucess. The Texas Brahmas are currently on top of the Southern Conference with 79 PTS from 55 games (37-13-5) and with a 7 point lead over the Odessa Jackalopes with 72 points and have clinched the Southwest Division title with 9 games left (33-16-6). Down the Southern Conference Standings, the Laredo Bucks are sitting good in the #3 spot while the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees in the 4th seed of the Southern Conference. Even the Corpus Christi Icerayz are battling it out with defending league champion Arizona Sundogs for the 5th and final playoff spot in the Southern Conference. The only team currently not in the playoff race is the Amarillo Gorillas who are currently in the bottom of the Southern Conference. If the Corpus Christi Icerayz make the playoffs, it would be all Texas teams in the Southern Conference when the Central Hockey League Playoffs begin in late March.

The Scoring Race is pretty much over in the Central Hockey League where Sebastien Thinel of the Odessa Jackalopes has a 9 point lead over teammate Dominic Leveille. The gap between 1st and 3rd in the CHL Scoring Race is 15 points where the Tulsa Oliers Jeff Christian currently has 68 points. Barring some great run in the last 10 games, Sebastien Thinel should be the CHL Scoring Title this season.

Playoff Format 10 teams make the playoffs in the CHL (top 5 in Both Conferences), the 4th and 5th seeds will start the playoffs in a best of 3 Play In where the Winner will play the top seed in the Conference Semifinals while the 2nd and 3rd seeds will play each other. Then the Conference Semifinal Winners will play each other for the Conference Championships, then the Conferences Championships will play for the CHL Preisdents Cup Championship. The format for the Conference Semifinals, Final and Presidents Cup are best of 7.

Here's the current standings with about 10 games left in the season.

Northern Conference
1. Colorado Eagles 80 PTS, 10 Games left
2. Mississippi Riverkings 77 PTS, 10 Games
3. Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs 74 PTS, 10 Games Left
4. Oklahoma City Blazers 71 PTS, 10 Games Left
5. Rocky Mountain Rage 62 PTS, 8 Games Left
6. Rapid City Rush 42 PTS, 10 Games Left
7. Wichita Thunder 41 PTS, 9 Games Left
8. Tulsa Oliers 38 PTS, 10 Games Left

Southern Conference
1. Texas Brahmas 79 PTS, 9 Games Left
2. Odessa Jackalopes 72 PTS, 9 Games Left
3. Laredo Bucks 66 PTS, 10 Games Left
4. Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees 59 PTS, 10 Games
5. Arizona Sundogs 52 PTS, 8 Games Left
6. Corpus Christi Icerayz 51 PTS, 9 Games Left
7. New Mexico Scorpions 48 PTS, 9 Games Left
8. Amarillo Gorillas 35 PTS, 11 Games Left

Current Northern Conference Playoff Matchups

Play In Round
#4 Oklahoma City Blazers VS. #5 Rocky Mountain Rage

Conference Semifinals
#1 Colorado Eagles VS. Play In Winner
#2 Mississippi Riverkings VS. #3 Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs

Current Southern Conference Playoff Matchups

Play In Round
#4 Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees VS. Arizona Sundogs

Conference Semifinals
#1 Texas Brahmas VS. Play In Round
#2 Odessa Jackalopes VS. #3 Laredo Bucks

From the Texas notebook

For those of wondering about the Texas Stars which will make their AHL Debut next season, they website is now operarting. www.texasstarshockey.com has been up and running for a couple of months now.

Wichita Falls Wildcats captain Brett Hartung recently signed with the Bently College Falcons of the Atlantic Hockey Conference (AHC). This is his 3rd season with the Wildcats playing in 62 PTS (34 G, 28 A) in 152 career games played for the Wildcats durin his time their. Currently Wichita Falls are in 3rd place with a 20-21-8 record which is good for 48 pts and have 9 games left this season.

Out of Texas

The Race for the RBC Cup is now underway up in Canada with league playoffs going on in 10 different leagues across the Canada. This season the RBC Cup will be in Victoria B.C. from May 2-10.

In the Major Juniors, the Regular season in a 3 Major Junior Leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) will end on March 15 and the playoffs get underway on March 20.

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