‘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: Jason Dickinson, early surprises, and the goalie situation

Jason Dickinson kicks a soccer ball before a Texas Stars games earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Jason Dickinson kicks a soccer ball before a Texas Stars games earlier this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Welcome to another edition of the Texas Stars mailbag. Today we’re looking into Jason Dickinson’s play, the goalie situation, and the playoff structure.

Also (shameless plug coming) I’ll be doing an AMA on the Dallas Stars subreddit at 2 p.m. this afternoon. Feel free to come join us.

Let’s get started:

It’s been a pretty smooth transition to professional hockey for Jason Dickinson and it’s started on the defensive end of the ice.

The 20-year-old has been trusted in key defensive zone situations and on the penalty kill. He’s also been willing to throw around his 6-foot-2, 191-pound frame more than I expected him to.

I asked Dickinson about this last week. He said his 200-foot game is what he wants to be known for and it’s how he plans to make the NHL some day.

Playing well in the defensive end has helped Dickinson’s work in the offensive zone. He never lacked confidence — heck, he took five shots on opening night — but he’s found that offensive groove over the past two weeks and he’s riding a three-game point streak into this weekend.

Both offensively and defensively Dickinson knows where he needs to be on the ice. Often times rookies get caught learning the AHL and adjusting to the speed of the game. Dickinson, on the other hand, hasn’t looked like a rookie with his positioning.

1. Gemel Smith is not in the dog house, not even close. He missed back-to-back games this past weekend because of family matter he was attending to.

2. Brennan Evans hasn’t been a disappointment. Frankly, when the team is off to the best 10-game start in franchise history you can’t label any player as a disappointment.

Evans has been a key cog in the locker room and has helped many of the younger defensemen adapt to their roles this season.

Maxime Lagace has been one of the biggest surprises, but I’ve already written at length about him. So let’s go with Matej Stransky.

Stransky was a scratch on opening night and may have been in the conversation to start the season in the ECHL. Now, Stransky is tied for third on the team in points with nine, even though he’s only played eight games.

You can read a bit more about Stransky’s success in my weekly notebook tomorrow (shameless plug).

After this past weekend, the team wants to improve it’s first period play, but that’s the extent of the problems right now — a couple slow starts they’ve overcome.

I’m glad I don’t have to make that decision.

Once Jack Campbell comes back, the Stars will have three capable goalies in Maxime Lagace, John Muse, and Campbell.

They’ll likely carry three goalies to start and then assess the situation after a couple weeks.

Personally, I’m not sure how Lagace ends up in the ECHL. He’s proven he’s an AHL goalie after his performance in the first month of the season.

Yes, the playoff situation is a bit odd this season. The Texas Stars have 15 points, the most in the Pacific Division, but they’re technically in third place based on points percentage — which is being used since California teams play less games than the rest of the league.

This system is being used league-wide, but has the biggest impact on the Pacific Division. In the other three divisions you can still look solely at points, since those teams will all play the same amount of games.

Teams in the Central Division will be keeping a closer eye on the points percentage thanks to divisional cross over this season. If the fifth-place team in the Central has a higher points percentage than the fourth-place team in the Pacific Division, that Central Division team will make the playoffs.

Morning Skate: Texas Stars will shuffle lineup after Shore’s recall

Maxime Lagace will get the start in goal tonight for the Texas Stars. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Maxime Lagace will get the start in goal tonight for the Texas Stars. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

CEDAR PARK — Out of necessity, the Texas Stars are shuffling the lineup before tonight’s game with the Bakersfield Condors.

Texas will play it’s first game without Devin Shore, who was called up by the Dallas Stars on Sunday morning. Texas also has a couple minor injuries that are going to impact the lineup.

“Tonight we’ll make a game-time decision on a couple players,” Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “Couple bumps and bruises and sicknesses. But we should be able to put in a full roster here tonight.”

Expect Gemel Smith back in the lineup tonight after missing Friday’s game, while dealing with a family matter. Brennan Evans will also be available after missing Friday’s game for similar reasons.

While much of the lineup is still to be determined, Laxdal said Maxime Lagace will get the start in goal.

Lagace picked up the win against Bakersfield on Friday and made a couple crucial saves in the third period when Texas was clinging to a one-goal lead.

“Max will go back in goal, I thought he was outstanding the other night,” Laxdal said. “I thought he was our best player on the ice.”

Texas will be looking for a crisper game in front of Lagace tonight. While Texas won on Friday, it was a sloppy performance rescued by a resurgent second period.

“When you don’t play great and you get a win, you take the two points,” Laxdal said. “We haven’t had a lot of practice time in the past two and half weeks, and your game starts to disintegrate. Going back and watching the video, you see that in a lot of areas … for us it’s a matter of finding a way.”

Projected lineup, with lot’s of guesswork after an optional morning skate:

Remie Elie-Travis Morin-Brendan Ranford
Derek Hulak-Justin Dowling-Greg Rallo
Jason Dickinson-Gemel Smith-Matej Stransky
Cole Ully-Cory Kane-Branden Troock

Esa Lindell-Stephen Johns
Brennan Evans-Julius Honka
Ludwig Bystrom-Jesse Blacker

Maxime Lagace

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

Texas Stars Mailbag: Who makes the team? Camp standouts? What about Cole Ully?

Cole Ully at Dallas Stars training camp earlier this week. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Cole Ully at Dallas Stars training camp earlier this week. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Dallas hosted training camp in Cedar Park and Texas opens training camp next week, so the mailbag is progressing from summer speculation to — hopefully — hard facts and opinions that we can count on for the 2015-16 season.

So, let’s get started.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Not going to break it down into lines. I want to see some chemistry between younger guys first.

But, I will break down the forward locks, good bets, and fringe players to make the AHL roster.

Locks (8): Travis Morin, Derek Hulak, Brendan Ranford, Jason Dickinson, Justin Dowling, Greg Rallo, Radek Faksa, Devin Shore.

No surprises here. All eight of these players should be in the lineup on consistent basis, barring injuries.

Good bets (3): Remie Elie, Matej Stransky, Cole Ully.

Elie and Ully have both been impressive in training camp and will be rookies this season. Stransky is entering an interesting season. He’s played well at times, but his skating ability and inability to fit in with centers not named Radek Faksa has hurt his stock.

Fringe (3): Gemel Smith, Taylor Peters, Emil Molin.

Smith has had a disappointing training camp and didn’t impress in Traverse City, where he was one of the older players and should have relied on that AHL experience. Peters is good on face-offs, but hasn’t really fit well with Laxdal’s system, while Molin is making his North American debut this season.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

When you consider my expectations for them entering camp, Cole Ully, Ludwig Bystrom, and Matt Mangene, all immediately come to mind.

Ully — and this dates back to his performance in Traverse City a week earlier — has rocketed his stock in the organization and has shown he’s got some nice skills to go along with his blazing speed.

Bystrom is bigger, stronger, and smarter than he was last season. Before camp started I expected him to be a bottom pairing defenseman in the AHL. Now, I could see him on the second or first pairing (depending on how the Stars want to mix and match) and getting legitimate power play time.

Mangene is on an AHL contract, and I thought organizational depth could force him to Idaho this season. Instead, he’s impressed during training camp and Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff mentioned Mangene by name when talking about younger players that impressed him.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Piggybacking on the prior answer here and going with Cole Ully.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I think Ully slots in nicely as a second or third-line winger, who should be able to take advantage of his speed in the AHL. He’s too small to fit on a fourth line if Laxdal decides to use a “heavier lineup” like he has at times in the past.

I don’t think Morin is disappointed about being named captain. As much as he wants to play in the NHL, he knows he’s a spot player and an insurance policy in case of an injury. Some in the organization think Morin being named captain will elevate his game and leadership qualities.

Mattias Janmark will be playing in Sweden this season. Jim Nill told me that if it’s between the AHL and Sweden and he’ll be playing in Sweden.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Dmitry Sinitsyn signed a two-year deal in the KHL this summer, which means he’s at least two years away from playing in the AHL.

It’s too early to tell on some of the younger prospects. But, players like Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford are career AHLers in my mind.

That doesn’t mean they won’t play more NHL games in their career. It just means they’ll play more of their career in the AHL than the NHL — think of the Travis Morin or Greg Rallo career model.

I don’t think Oleksiak is a trade candidate right now, even is he’s not in Dallas’ top six defensemen. He has too much value to be put on waivers and clear, but he doesn’t have enough value right now to demand the return Dallas would want for him.

The Stars aren’t going to give up on Oleksiak for a fourth or fifth-round pick. He’s a project, and they’re going to see what happens.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Yes, Morin is officially the Stars captain.

In the AHL, with constant turnover on rosters, the captaincy is often determined by coaches and the general manager.

Morin is also going to be part of the Stars for longer. He’s under contract until 2018, while Greg Rallo is on a one-year AHL deal.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I’d take the over on 24.

If I was setting a line I would set Jack Campbell’s wins this season I would set it at 27.5. Now, would you take the over or under on that?

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Dallas should start making more cuts this weekend. Texas opens training camp on Monday.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It’s some sort of advertisement.