It all looked so good going into the third period for Hamilton. At the mid way point of the game, shots were 26-5 for Hamilton. After the second, they were 34-11 and the Dogs had a 2-1 lead. Two early penalty kills were all that the Stars needed to gain some momentum and put in three straight goals to advance to their first Calder Cup Finals in franchise history.
While Stars’ goaltender Matt Climie looked suspicious at times, especially when the puck came anywhere near his glove, he stopped 41 of 43 shots in a game that was dominated by the Bulldogs. Finnish prospect Perttu Lindgren led the way for Texas with the game winner late in the third, and two assists. The Dogs were able to keep the Playoff’s leading scorer, Jamie Benn, in check until he potted the fourth goal for Texas on his first shot of the game late in period three. He now has 14 in 18 game for the Stars.
Regardless of their loss, the highlight of the game for me was watching how much better PK Subban was than the last time I saw him in person. Not saying that he was anywhere near bad last time, just that his stint in the NHL Playoffs for Montreal boosted his confidence to an even higher level. It was clearly noticeable last night.
- He literally controlled the play every time he was on the ice; whether it was entering the offensive zone with Brian Campbell-like spins or holding off defenders as he looked to set up a teammate. In his first shift of the game, Subban pinched down to the hashmarks to lay out Jamie Benn. It set the tone of the game and got the 5,000 people in attendance on their feet early.
- As I said earlier, what killed the Bulldogs was their powerplay, going 0-3 in the game. which included two in the first five minutes of the final period when the score was still 2-1. It was frustrating to watch because they were constantly trying to set up Subban on the right point. All the defender had to do was come out to take away his shot. Subban did his best to always move it quickly or beat the oncoming defender, but his passes were often too slick for his teammates to control.
Like Desharnais, it was also likely the last game as a Bulldog for both PK and 2007 1st rounder Max Pacioretty, who will both find their way onto the Montreal roster in 2010-11. Subban is a lock to fit into their top four defenseman and ‘Patch’ could even compete for a spot in the top six because of the cap restrictions Montreal faces.
With the Bulldogs missing out on their fourth Calder Cup Final in team history, the Texas Stars head to their first Final in franchise history after moving over from Iowa prior to this season. There is more than a week break before their series against the Hershey Bears begins. Should be a dandy; the Bears set an AHL record with 60 wins in the regular season and are led by Keith Aucoin and Alex Giroux, who were 1 & 2 in season scoring, Chris Bourque (70 pts in 49 games in the season; 23 pts in 15 in playoffs) and goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who is 10-2 in these playoffs.
Game 1 – Thu., June 3 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sat., June 5 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., June 7 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
Game 4 – Wed., June 9 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
*Game 5 – Fri., June 11 – Hershey at Texas, 8:30
*Game 6 – Mon., June 14 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 16 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00