© — Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars
St. John’s IceCaps centreman Adam Lowry is pursued by the Texas Stars’ Scott Glennie as he carries the puck up ice during Game 2 of the American Hockey League Calder Cup Finals Monday night in Cedar Park, Texas.
Calder Cup final shifts to St. John's
Some notes and numbers as the St. John’s IceCaps and Texas Stars get ready for Game 3 of the American Hockey League Calder Cup final tonight at Mile One Centre:
On Tuesday, the day after the IceCaps beat the Stars 2-1 to tie their best-of-seven series at one game apiece, the teams shared a charter flight from Austin, Tex., to St. John’s, travelling nearly 4,300 kilometres, with a refuelling stopover in New Hampshire.
With that much travel on the only off-day between Games 2 and 3, Stars’ coach Willie Desjardins agreed it’s almost as if there is no break in the early part of the schedule.
“It’s like playing three (games) back-to-back,” said Desjardins, whose team won Sunday’s series-opener 6-3.
“But the good thing is that it’s the same for both teams. There’s no advantage.”
And Stars and IceCaps are guaranteed some good rest after tonight’s contest.
With Mile One hosting the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society’s annual general meeting and trade show this week, there’s a nearly five-day break between tonight’s matchup and Game 4 on Monday.
Still with Desjardins: He made an interesting observation when asked to compare his team in Game 1, when they won in comparatively easy fashion, and the Game 2 loss on Sunday.
“I thought we played better than we did last night,” he said post-game Monday.
Now, that might be seen as an effort to buck up his players after a disappointing loss, but statistically, there is much to support the assertion, most notably the fact the Stars more than doubled their shots total from Game 1, when they had 23, to 50 in the Monday-night rematch.
That also means that it doesn’t take much to figure out that the biggest factor in the IceCaps’ bounce-back win was goaltender Michael Hutchinson, whose 49 save-performance Monday, decreased his goals-against-average in these playoffs to 1.77 and increased his save percentage to .943.
It also added to Hutchinson’s record of coming up with solid responses after less-than-stellar showings.
Six times during this AHL season, including twice in the playoffs, Hutchinson has given up four or more goals in game, only to immediately respond with a winning follow-up start, allowing one or fewer goals in doing so. What’s more, Hutchinson, who has a 12-6 post-season record, has delivered a win after each of his playoff defeats — twice on shutouts — with a collective 0.83 GAA and .975 save percentage, making 199 saves on 204 shots.
Game 2, in particular, demonstrated a lot of similarity between the IceCaps and Stars when it comes to their forward lines, which work hard on the forecheck and make the most of available depth, meaning Desjardins and St. John’s coach Keith McCambridge are able to reliably roll four lines.
There’s much more of a notable difference on defence, however, at least when it comes to scoring contributions
The IceCaps have 11 goals by defencemen in 18 playoff games, from six different blueliners (including Jordan Hill, with his first of the season), and 49 points. The Stars’ defensive corps has scored just three goals in 18 playoff games — all of them by Derek Meech — and has totalled 30 points.
Not that it appears the Stars have suffered too much on the offensive end as a result. Texas led the entire AHL in scoring in the regular season, with 274 goals (about 3.6 per game) and in the playoffs, with 60 (3.3 per game).
And collectively, Texas defencemen are plus-26 in the playoffs. St. John’s are plus-22.
The IceCaps had the only power play in Game 2, marking the first time in 94 games through the regular-season and playoffs that St. John’s didn’t have to muster a penalty kill.
It was a rare occurrence for the Stars, as well.
“I don’t know the last time when we went through a hockey game and didn’t have a power play,” said Texas forward Dustin Jeffrey after Monday’s game, “(but) I don’t think that was an issue for either team.”
Yes, the John Klingberg listed on the Texas roster is the brother of IceCaps’ winger Carl Klingberg, but the potential for a real sibling rivalry in this Calder Cup final ended when John underwent season-ending hip surgery a couple of months ago.
John Klingberg, 21, who is considered one of the Stars’ top prospects, played three regular-season games for Texas after spending the majority of the season with F of the Swedish Elite League. He was Dallas’s fifth-round draft pick in 2010.
Eric Comrie, who had been the IceCaps since early April, is in Calgary this week, where he will be attending Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence goaltending camp.
The 18-year-old-Comrie, Winnipeg’s second-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and who appeared in two games for the IceCaps at the end of the regular season, is one of 34 invitees to the camp. Another is St. John’s native Evan Fitzpatrick, who played for Newbridge Academy of the Nova Scotia major midget league last season and was the fourth overall pick by the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the recent Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft.