‘Just blow it up right now’ after Texas Stars go 0-for-9 on the power play

Travis Morin battles for a face-off in the Texas Stars 5-3 loss to Stockton. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Travis Morin battles for a face-off in the Texas Stars 5-3 loss to Stockton. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK – If they could, the Texas Stars probably would have declined the penalties in a 5-3 loss to the Stockton Heat.

Texas went 0-for-9 with the man advantage on Saturday and allowed a pair of shorthanded goals against an undisciplined Stockton team.

And Texas didn’t even generate chances when it had the man advantage.

“Just blow it up right now,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “Right now are units aren’t working and our top guys aren’t working right now.”

Most of the power plays where spent chasing down Stockton clearances as Texas looked stagnant and couldn’t hold possession, even when they had a pair of 5-on-3s and then a 6-on-4 with 49.4 seconds remaining.

“There’s just no timing and no execution,” Laxdal said. “We’ve got to shake it up a little bit and see if we can spark it and get back to a basic power play.”

In fact, the power play inefficiency turned part of the chorus of fans who consistently shout “shoot” into boo birds when Texas left the ice without a shot during a 5-on-3 late in the first period.

That capped Stars worst period of the season as they trailed 3-0 after 20 minutes.

Texas consistently turned the puck over, allowed 16 shots, and the aforementioned power play induced a smattering of boos from the 4,350 announced fans at the Cedar Park Center.

Twice the turnovers ended up in the back of the Stars net – one by Julius Honka and one by Esa Lindell – while the penalty kill was a galvanizing moment for Stockton.

Turner Elson scored on a shorthanded breakaway with 1:58 remaining in the period. Sixteen seconds later Texas gifted a 5-on-3 for 84 seconds, but couldn’t contain the offensive zone and didn’t fire a single shot at Kevin Poulin.

Eventually the period came to an end with Texas failing to pull the trigger on the power play, prompting a couple more boos from the crowd.

The third and fourth lines dragged Texas back into the game in the second period.

First with their effort, than with some scoring touch.

Cole Ully, Cory Kane, and Branden Troock were Texas’ best unit during 5-on-5 play Saturday and started grabbing extra ice time, including more offensive zone starts in the middle stanza.

And they rewarded Laxdal’s confidence when Troock broke through with a twisting wrist shot 8:27 into the second period.

The shot was slightly misplayed by Poulin, but it lit a fire for the Stars.

Texas continued to pressure and eventually pulled within one on Gemel Smith’s fourth goal of the season. Smith won a face-off in his defensive zone on the shift, pushing the Stars into transition before the forward eventually shoveled home a rebound.

Troock, who was subbing in for Greg Rallo during an equipment issue on the third line, appropriately had the primary assist.

Cory Kane, another fourth-liner, tied the game in the third period, but Blair Riley restored Stockton’s lead with 5:06 remaining, beating Jack Campbell on a sharp angle shot.

Texas had chances to tie the game and was gifted the 6-on-4 advantage with 49.4 seconds remaining. But the ninth power play ended just like the first eight, and Elson added insult to injury with a shorthanded empty net goal.

Campbell finished with 29 saves on 33 shots in his second start of the season, while Poulin stopped 31 of 34 shots in the victory.

Texas Stars Mailbag: Thoughts on opening night roster and expectations for the season

This is it, the final Texas Stars Mailbag before the season opens Saturday evening.

And before we dive into pressing questions, do me a favor and answer the following questions.

I’m interested in seeing how the fanbase is viewing this upcoming season.

Now, let’s look at your questions.

Here’s how I would project the opening-night lineup:

Jason Dickinson-Travis Morin-Brendan Ranford
Devin Shore-Justin Dowling-Remi Elie
Curtis McKenzie-Radek Faksa-Greg Rallo
Derek Hulak-Gemel Smith-Branden Troock

Esa Lindell-Julius Honka
Ludwig Bystrom-Stephen Johns
Mattias Backman-Jesse Blacker

In goal, my gut says John Muse will get the start based on his veteran status. However, I would start Maxime Lagace based on his play in preseason and in practice.

Not going to make my Calder Cup prediction here. That’s something you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for.

Based on practice the past couple days both Jason Dickinson and Remi Elie are going to get heavy minutes this season.

Dickinson has been solidly entrenched on Travis Morin’s left wing (Brendan Ranford has been the right winger), and he’s been working on the first power play unit.

Elie has formed a nice second line with Devin Shore and Justin Dowling. It’s a group that provides the right mix of speed and physicality, plus Elie isn’t afraid to hit anything that moves with his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame.

Cole Ully may not be in the opening night lineup Saturday and he’s been skating on the fifth line in practice.

But, I think Ully will be part of the equation this season and his game fits more of a top-six role than as a checker.

It’s all about the lie of his stick, and getting more of the blade on the ice.

Having the right lie, which can be greatly impacted by a players skating style, gives a player more control and opportunities to play the puck on a consistent basis.

Look at this photo from last weekend, when he was using Rallo’s stick.

E99A7002-XL

See how the blade is level across the ice?

Now take a look at this photo from Texas’ final regular season game last season, when Troock wasn’t using Rallo’s stick.

E99A0254-XL

See how much of the blade is on the ice? Not enough.

Youngsters in general or youngsters on the Texas Stars?

Youngsters in general spend way too much time on their phones and don’t play outside enough.

As for the younger players on the Texas Stars, I think there is a more comfortable feeling in the locker room entering this season. While there is a group of veteran leaders, the team as a whole is younger and I think that’s bonded the group.

Forfeited salaries from suspensions aren’t even paid out, so that goes back to the team.

I will have to check with the AHL on where fines go. But, I can tell you NHL fines go to the player emergency assistance fund.

Branden Troock making an impression, while borrowing Greg Rallo’s stick

Branden Troock tracks down a loose puck against San Antonio. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Branden Troock tracks down a loose puck against San Antonio. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Branden Troock did his best Greg Rallo impression in a 4-3 preseason loss to the San Antonio Rampage on Friday.

The 21-year-old forward scored twice from the left face-off circle — which might as well be called Rallo’s office — and he did so while using one his 34-year-old teammate’s sticks.

“He had a pretty good year last year,” Troock said. “He’s obviously a really good goal scorer. So you just watch him and you find those areas that he goes to. He’s one guy that I really like to watch play.”

On the urging of the coaching staff, Troock had been looking for a new stick and tested Rallo’s out at morning skate.

It was a good fit for Troock and Stars coach Derek Laxdal approved of the selection.

“If you ever watch tape on him, he had such a high lie on his stick,” Laxdal said. “So his blade was never touching the ice. (We are) trying to get more blade on the ice for him, so he has a better chance of handling the puck.”

And it was an important night for Troock, who is battling to find a role as one of the 14 forwards Texas is expected to carry on opening night.

“It’s a numbers game and we’re all fighting for those couple last spots,” Troock said. “You just go about your own job and do the best you can.”

He was one of Texas best forwards Friday and was trusted in all three zones. He also used his stick, with it’s better lie, to disrupt Rampage attacks and moved the puck well through the neutral zone.

Morning Skate: Texas Stars fielding young lineup in preseason opener

Branden Troock is in the lineup tonight for Texas. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Branden Troock is in the lineup tonight for Texas. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK — The Texas Stars are fielding a young lineup in tonight’s preseason opener against the San Antonio Rampage.

Three of the six defensemen are here on a tryout on basis with Texas, while forwards Brandon Magee, Colton Beck, and Taylor Stefishen are also tryout invitees.

“I think we’re all excited to play in a preseason game against someone else,” Beck said after morning skate on Friday. “I want to show them I can play and contribute at this level.”

It’s one of the last chances to impress Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal, who said Sunday’s preseason game will be more of a dress rehearsal for opening night.

Laxdal did say that Sunday’s lineup hasn’t been set, and some of the free agents could earn their way into that lineup.

That should send a message to AHL and NHL-contracted players dressing tonight.

Cam Braes, Cory Kane, Emil Molin, Taylor Peters, Gemel Smith, and Branden Troock are all fighting for spots in Texas and trying to avoid ECHL relegation. No one is a lock, but it appears that Devin Shore, Derek Hulak, and Cole Ully — while playing tonight — should be with Texas this season.

“They said ‘Play your game, don’t be someone you’re not,'” Kane said. “Obviously work hard, compete, and win one-on-one battles. Just show them what you’ve got.”

On defense, Matt Mangene, Jesse Blacker, and Brennan Evans are all going to be with Texas this season. But, with five young prospects Dallas wants to see play, there isn’t space for all three in the opening night lineup.

Laxdal said Maxime Lagace will start in goal, while Philippe Desrosiers will finish the game.

Lagace is aware of the split, but he’s excited about getting the start.

“Of course,” Lagace said. “It’s always tougher when you come in the second period. I’m very excited to play the first half, I can’t wait.”

The plan hasn’t been set for Sunday’s preseason game, Laxdal said, and one of the young goalies could earn playing time with a strong performance tonight.

San Antonio didn’t skate in Cedar Park this morning, but the Rampage are expected to field a young lineup according to play-by-play broadcaster Dan Weiss.

Lines:

Cam Braes-Devin Shore-Emil Molin
Cory Kane-Brandon Magee-Cole Ully
Colton Beck-Taylor Peters-Taylor Stefishen
Derek Hulak-Gemel Smith-Branden Troock

Cole Martin-Matt Mangene
Jake Rutt-Jesse Blacker
Brennan Evans-Andrew Panzarella

Maxime Lagace
Philippe Desrosiers

Dallas Stars prospect notes from Traverse City

IMG_0811

The Dallas Stars prospects posted a 2-1-1 record and finished fifth at the Traverse City Tournament this week.

The following is list of notes and observation on each of the 23 players that suited up for Dallas.

Jason Dickinson — Skill set that made him a first-round pick is obvious, but Dickinson also played with more of a physical edge in Traverse City.

Consistently was finishing his checks, and often gave that extra shove to an opponent on a play. Scored a pretty goal against Minnesota when he picked the upper corner on a wrist shot.

Mattias Janmark — Dallas’ best player in the tournament, his first real chance to impress Stars management since the trade from Detroit.

Was consistently creating offensive chances and led the team in points. He’ll likely spend the 2015-16 season in Sweden, but he appears ready to make the transition to North American ice.

Brett Pollock — Got better as the tournament went along and benefitted from playing with Janmark and Dickinson.

Good sense in the offensive zone, should have a strong year in junior with the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Remi Elie — Big physical, player who provided an energetic spark.

Created space for teammates, including Devin Shore’s nifty goal in front against Detroit after Elie had forced a turnover in the corner.

Devin Shore — One of the better players in the tournament and one of the older ones.

Scored a nice goal against Detroit and was a leader as the alternate captain. Shore was supposed to be one of Dallas best players and he delivered.

Cole Ully — One of the pleasant surprises of the tournament. Created time and space with his speed and looked confident.

Gemel Smith — Bit of an underwhelming tournament for Smith, who was one of the older players and was carrying a wealth of AHL experience.

Did have a bit of a physical edge, and had Dallas’ only fight, but not the type of showing he was probably looking for.

Radek Faksa — Was playing his first games since January, and he looked rusty at times.

He got better as the tournament went along, and said the injured shoulder is “100 percent.” He’s getting more comfortable in game situations and was reliable in the face-off circle.

Emil Molin — He’s going to come over to North America this year and Traverse City was a nice opportunity to work with Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal. Nice finisher around the net, need to see a bit more in the defensive zone.

Chase Witala — One of the free agent invites at the tournament. Didn’t look out of place, but not overly impressive.

Brandon Magee — And invite to Dallas Stars training camp, who centered a fourth line of free agent invitees.

Helped provided a nice fourth-line spark and could be in the conversation as a future Idaho Steelhead. Would be a good AHL-ECHL depth player.

Mads Eller — Similar to Witalas. Didn’t look out of place, but played limited minutes and didn’t leave much of a lasting impression.

Branden Troock — Played two of the four games and scored a goal.

Energetic when he played, which led to the goal. But also committed a couple ill-advised penalties.

Esa Lindell — Worked well with Stephen Johns as the top pairing, and also had good chemistry with Julius Honka when the pairings where shuffled against Detroit.

Defensively sound and showed his ability to contribute offensively.

Stephen Johns — Frankly, he probably shouldn’t have been playing in this tournament. As one of the oldest players in the tournament and close to NHL-ready, Johns looked like a man amongst boys at times.

He was one of the best players in three of the four games, and if he wasn’t it would have been a disappointment.

Let’s see what he does against men his own size in training camp.

Ludwig Bystrom — Really took steps forward this summer.

Still smaller in stature, but stronger than he was last year. Protected the puck well and showed more offensive spark than I saw last season in Texas.

Type of weekend he should be able to build on heading into training camp.

Julius Honka — Honka played with men in the AHL last season, so he was on another level than most of the prospects in this tournament — so it’s not really fair to judge his performance.

That being said, he did have a couple big hits and played with a more physical edge than I remember him having in Texas. He did get burned on goal by Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou, and was later visibly frustrated at the final buzzer.

Patrick Sanvido — Has good size and raw skills, but still lots of room for development. Got turned inside out against Carolina by Sergey Tolchinsky on the first goal of the game. Played two of the four games.

Chris Martenet — He should be able to grow into his 6-foot-7 frame, which will be key to his development.

Very raw prospect that needs some seasoning. Played in two of the four games.

Aaron Haydon — Like Sanvido and Martenet, he had a bit of an adjustment to the speed in Traverse City. Effort is there, execution is the next step. Played in two of the four games.

Alex Peters — Physically he was ready for the tournament. Was strong in front of his own net and didn’t back down from more seasoned players.

Does need to work on his timing. Played in two of the four games.

Brent Moran — Shaky first game against Carolina, but rebounded and played better against Minnesota in the fifth-place game.

Should probably challenge shooters more with his size, and it seems like he’s on a four-foot rope to the net at all times.

Philippe Desrosiers — Admittedly, he had a bad third period in the 5-4 loss to Detroit. Otherwise, he looked good playing against prospects and responded to a couple difficult situations in the tournament.

Will be interesting to see how he performs next week in training camp.