Wolves ready to cool down red-hot Texas in playoffs

 
 
  • Right winger Joey Crabb leads the Wolves with 4 goals in the Calder Cup postseason playoffs.

    Right winger Joey Crabb leads the Wolves with 4 goals in the Calder Cup postseason playoffs. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

  • Defenseman Arturs Kulda has been solid for the Wolves all year, leading the AHL with a franchise record plus-47 rating during the regular season.

    Defenseman Arturs Kulda has been solid for the Wolves all year, leading the AHL with a franchise record plus-47 rating during the regular season. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

  • Goaltender Peter Mannino has collected two shutouts in his seven postseason starts with the Wolves, who host Texas on this weekend in the Western Divisional Finals.

    Goaltender Peter Mannino has collected two shutouts in his seven postseason starts with the Wolves, who host Texas on this weekend in the Western Divisional Finals. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

  • Wolves head coach Don Lever, who turned the team around after a slow start in the regular season, expects more consistent play against Texas in the Western Division Finals of their AHL playoff series.

    Wolves head coach Don Lever, who turned the team around after a slow start in the regular season, expects more consistent play against Texas in the Western Division Finals of their AHL playoff series. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

  • Forest Park native Tim Stapleton, center, shares the team lead on the Wolves with 6 points (2G, 4A) this postseason.

    Forest Park native Tim Stapleton, center, shares the team lead on the Wolves with 6 points (2G, 4A) this postseason. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

  • Left wing Brett Sterling of the Wolves is shown here with defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy of the Texas Stars from a game earlier this season.

    Left wing Brett Sterling of the Wolves is shown here with defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy of the Texas Stars from a game earlier this season. Ross Dettman/Chicago Wolves

Published: 4/29/2010 7:05 PM

The Chicago Wolves take their next step in pursuit of their third Calder Cup by taking on the Texas Stars in the Western Division Finals at Allstate Arena on Friday night.

But in order to move on, the Wolves need to play 60 minutes every night, especially against a Texas team that swept the Rockford IceHogs and outscored them 15-5 in their opening round series.

Wolves' head coach Don Lever liked the effort he saw from his team, but he didn't see enough of it from start to finish..

"We were inconsistent, lost our focus and took Milwaukee lightly," he said.

Goaltender Peter Mannino, who recorded two shutouts in the first round against Milwaukee, knows he and his teammates need to stay sharp against the Stars.

"We all need to have strong individual efforts," said Mannino. "We can't take a play off for a second because the smallest mistake can lead to the biggest change."

The Wolves' struggle to close-out Milwaukee might have been the lesson they needed.

"We learned from Milwaukee to fight until the end," Mannino said.

The Wolves have home-ice advantage in thus playoff series but their regular season series went 4-3-0-1 against Texas. Neither team, however, took advantage playing in their building during the regular season. The road team went 3-1.

The Stars are a "tough, defensive minded team," according to Lever, and it all starts with goalie Brent Krahn, who leads the AHL playoffs in save percentage and goals against average.

On offense, 20-year-old Jamie Benn (3 goals, 3 assists) and center Travis Morin (7 assists) lead the Stars.

The Wolves expect a long, tough series but need to be patient and stick to their system by taking care of their zone first.

Mannino is focused on taking game one at home and knows the significance of jumping out to a 1-0 series lead.

"(Game 1) sets a tone for the rest of the series. You show the other team what they're in for and that it's going to be a long series."