Texas Stars Mailbag: Looking at Jack Campbell’s first game and AHL suspensions

Welcome to another edition of the Texas Stars Mailbag, which now features a more visual element.

Thanks to @chillyw’s suggestion on Twitter, we’re adding a weekly film study. This week we’ll look at the three goals Jack Campbell allowed in his season debut on Wednesday.

Goal 1: Joey Hishon, 4:20 of the first period.

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This goal happens because Campbell is already set in a butterfly before the shot comes. He’s playing the percentages and taking away the bottom of the net in case Andrew Agozzino fires this shot from the grouping by the face-off dot.

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Here Agozzino fires the shot and Campbell has already set his weight on his left pad. His foot isn’t on the ice and he doesn’t have the ability to push across in case of a deflection.

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The deflection happens and Campbell has to scramble to his right, but Hishon has ample time to put the puck in the net.

Goal 2: Andrew Agozzino, 0:24 third period.

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This goal starts when Agozzino is able to sneak down the left side uncovered. The puck carrier Maxim Noreau is blatantly looking to pass, which should send a message to Stephen Johns and Esa Lindell to take away the cross-ice pass.

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The defensemen fail to take away the pass here. That’s a combination of being slightly out of position and Johns simply missing the puck when he reached to poke away the pass.

This goal isn’t Campbell’s fault, but he is already in a butterfly and is reacting like Noreau was going to shoot. That puts him in a bad position when the pass reaches Agozzino.

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Since Campbell was already down, he wasn’t able to effectively push across. It would have been a difficult save either way, but had he stayed up during the pass he could have slid across and made the save.

Goal 3: Nikita Zadarov, 4:22 third period

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Campbell is doing the right thing in this situation. You can see him looking around the screen on the top of the crease and has to find his vision through a maize of bodies, it doesn’t help that a pair of his defenders go for the shot block and miss.

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Well-placed slap shot by Zadarov through traffic, Campbell doesn’t have much of a chance here. Correct thought by players laying out to block the shot, but when you miss on the shot block, it can screen the goalie.

Overall, Campbell will likely want the first goal back and could have made a better play on the second even though it wasn’t his fault.

It was a good start for Campell in the 6-3 victory. It will be interesting to see how he improves this Saturday against the Stockton Heat.

Now, let’s dive into the mailbag:

As someone who makes his living writing, I hate it. I suck at math and every game now requires a calculator to figure out the impact on the standings.

This is what I have figured out though: in order for Texas and San Antonio to take advantage of the extra game, they’ll have to pick up at least 12 of 16 potential points. That roughly equates to a 6-2 record, or some other combination of overtime losses and victories.

As league, the AHL really needs to examine this going forward. If five teams are allowed to play by different standings rules, what’s stopping other teams from asking for other rule exceptions?

Update: 8:29 p.m., Nov. 12, 2015

Certain infractions — notably those for checking to the head and all match penalties — are automatically reviewed by the league.

Teams have 24 hours to submit a request for supplemental discipline. If an incident occurs on a Saturday night, we may not necessarily be informed of a request until Sunday evening. Factor in the time it takes to collect all available video (including angles that may be independent of the AHL Live feed) and then conduct the actual review, and the whole process usually takes a couple of days to complete.

This can lead to somewhat awkward situations. For example, Patrick Bordeleau played this past Sunday against the Chicago Wolves after his boarding incident took place on Saturday.

The tape wasn’t reviewed until Monday and the suspension wasn’t passed down until Tuesday.

Obviously this Tweet came in before the suspension was passed down. And we just talked about the suspension process.

But, let’s break down the merit of the three-game suspension Bordeleau received.

Personally, I would have given him four games, but I’m content with the three-game hiatus.

One week earlier the Milwaukee Admiral’s Vladislav Kamenev was suspended two games for boarding. Using that as a baseline, Bordeleau should have gotten at least two games for the hit on Mattias Backman — which caused a concussion.

The additional game was added for the second hit against Jason Dickinson, which came 16 seconds after his first infraction and during the delayed penalty. I would have given an additional two games for that hit — which was more of an elbow combined with a charge.

Curtis McKenzie will be back in Cedar Park before Radek Faksa. And once McKenzie is healthy I expect him to be immediately assigned back to Texas.

Faksa, on the other hand, has played very well and could force the Stars brass to get creative and keep him on the roster when other injured forwards Travis Moen and Patrick Eaves return.

Jack Campbell is currently on a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars and has to prove he belongs with the organization.

Personally, I’d like to see Campbell succeed — he’s a genuinely good person and real pleasant to interact with.

But, can he prove he’s the future for the Dallas Stars? This season is going to determine that. If Campbell can stay calm, poised and healthy, he has the tools to succeed. But, if he gets lost in his own head or can’t control his approach consistently, it’ll be time to move on.

And, yes, I know I kind of dodged the question. But, I think we’ll have a much clearer answer by the end of the month.

It’s going to be Jack Campbell.

And if it’s not Campbell, that would likely signal the end of his tenure in the Dallas organization.

Radek Faksa relishing chance to silence critics during time with Dallas Stars

Radek Faksa during the Texas Stars season-opening game this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Radek Faksa during the Texas Stars season-opening game this season. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

DALLAS — Radek Faksa never expected to be here.

Sure, he knew someday he’d be in the NHL. But, less than a month into the 2015-16 season? And less than 10 months removed from shoulder surgery on his 21st birthday?

No chance.

But, here he was preparing for his sixth NHL game at the American Airlines Center on Thursday morning. His youthful smile beaming as he discussed the upcoming game with Vancouver Canucks and tossed a practice jersey into the laundry bin in the middle of the room.

“It feels good,” Faksa said, pausing to untie his skates. “And I feel good.”

Faksa’s emergence has been a boon for the Dallas Stars after Curtis McKenzie was injured earlier this month. He’s quickly adapted to the NHL game and he’s opened the eyes of many critics that questioned the first round pick.

“Lots of people didn’t notice or realize what I could do,” Faksa said. “Now, I’m showing that up here.”

And one of Faksa’s first critics, who quickly turned believer, was on the opposite bench Thursday as Willie Desjardins returned to Texas.

“I know he’s there, he’s a great coach,” Faksa said. “I can’t worry about that too much … but I would say hello if I see him (off the ice).”

Late in the 2013 season — after finishing his junior season with the Sudbury Wolves — Faksa arrived in Cedar Park and played a pair of games for the Texas Stars. Desjardins gave the Czech center a chance to earn a spot on the playoff roster, but he wasn’t ready.

One year later, Faksa joined Texas again and grabbed that spot before the Calder Cup Playoffs. He then appeared in all 21 playoff games and helped hoist the team’s first championship. Desjardins used that success to land his current position in Vancouver.

“The step he made in that second year was huge,” Desjardins said. “He really came in and was huge. That line with him (Matej) Stransky and (Kevin) Henderson was big as we won that championship.”

The narrative the following year is well known. Faksa injured his shoulder and missed half the season. Whispers of “bust” started circling his name on message boards and prospect rankings.

But, Faksa showed up this season and shut up his critics.

He scored a pair of goals in the Texas Stars season opener and was the best player on the ice. That quickly escalated into his first NHL call-up and now he’s playing big minutes in the NHL.

“He’s a guy who’s played in every situation,” Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He’s played last minute of games, (and last minutes of) periods. He’s been in on our penalty killing. And I think anytime you bring a young guy up, and he can be responsible defensively, you’re in good shape.”

Part of Faksa’s success on the penalty kill is the cohesiveness between the Dallas and Texas systems.

While there are a couple tweaks and modifications, Faksa was simply asked to step onto NHL ice and do what he does best in Cedar Park.

“That’s really it,” Faksa said.

Radek Faksa recalled by the Dallas Stars

Radek Faksa celebrates his second goal against the San Antonio Rampage last Saturday. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Radek Faksa celebrates his second goal against the San Antonio Rampage last Saturday. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Radek Faksa has been recalled by the Dallas Stars, the NHL club announced Friday.

Faksa fills a void left by Curtis McKenzie, who has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury.


Travis Moen may also be out with an undisclosed injury, meaning Faksa could make his NHL debut Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

The former first-round pick was arguably Texas’ best player in a 5-4 victory against the San Antonio Rampage last week. He scored a pair of goals and won 11 of 20 face-offs, most of which where taken in the defensive zone.

It was Faksa’s first game in almost 10 months after season-ending shoulder surgery last January, and he didn’t shy away from competition.

You can learn more about that shoulder surgery and recovery in this podcast that Faksa and I recorded last week.

With McKenzie and Faksa’s departure, Matej Stransky and Cory Kane will likely make their season debut tonight against the Chicago Wolves after being healthy scratches last week.

Here is the official release:

FRISCO, Texas – Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the team has recalled forward Radek Faksa from the Texas Stars, Dallas’ top development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Faksa, 21, has registered two goals (2-0=2) and a +1 plus/minus rating in one game with Texas this season. The forward has tallied 16 points (7-9=16) and 18 penalty minutes in 41 career AHL regular-season games with Texas. Faksa has also appeared in 21 career postseason games with Texas, posting four goals (4-0=4) during Texas’ 2014 Calder Cup championship run.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound native of Vitkov, Czech Republic was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (13th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Dallas has also placed forward Curtis McKenzie on Injured Reserve with a lower body injury.

Texas Stars Mailbag: Looking at the home opener and defensive pairings

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

(Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

This has been an odd week on the Texas Stars schedule.

The team played it’s first game this past Saturday, a 5-4 overtime victory, but then had six days off before playing three games in three nights this coming weekend.

That’s left extra time to analyze a game, analyze practice, and then over-analyze everything all over again with an extremely small sample size.

So, this should be an interesting mail bag, let’s dive in:


I won’t call them favorite moments, but a pair of under-the-radar moments caught my eye in the second period of the Stars 5-4 season-opening win against San Antonio, and both involved physical play.

The first was a clean open-ice hit by Stephen Johns near the Stars blue line. He planted the San Antonio player flat on his rear on the play and it disrupted an opposing attack.

Over the past couple years Texas has had a solid defense core, but never had that one player that opposing forwards physically feared. With his 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame and willingness to throw it around, Johns could develop into that type of mental and physical threat for other Pacific Division teams.

The other play involved Radek Faksa and his surgically-repaired shoulder.

Faksa took a hard hit near the San Antonio bench, with his shoulder taking the brunt of the momentum against the glass. It could have been a moment that made Faksa more tentative, or worse, caused injury.

Instead, Faksa rolled off the hit, continued to play, and forced a San Antonio turnover. That’s a good sign.

Most improved player since last season is easily Maxime Lagace. At this point last season he was struggling in the ECHL, now he’s pushing for playing time in the AHL.

I’m not sure what you mean by the “new McKenzie.”

If you mean the young player that’s going to benefit from playing on Travis Morin’s wing, then yes.

But, in the long run Jason Dickinson is going to fill a different role than McKenzie. McKenzie’s NHL future is as a skilled defensive forward, who can shut down the opposition’s top line.

Dickinson likely translates into more of a scoring role, and a player who can contribute on one of the top two lines.

Remember, it’s one thing to score at the AHL level — like McKenzie has — it’s another to find that same time and space against NHL competition.


It’s important to remember that defensive pairs and lines aren’t set in stone, but I thought Esa Lindell and Stephen Johns were the perfect shutdown pair against San Antonio on Saturday.

That duo played the majority of the third period and all of overtime, and I would expect them to be paired together this weekend.

That likely puts Julius Honka on a pairing with Mattias Backman, while Brennan Evans and Ludwig Bystrom will likely be the third pairing on Friday.

With three games in three nights, expect Jesse Blacker and Matt Mangene to play Saturday.


Stephen Johns won’t make his NHL debut until next season, if Dallas’ defense core stays the same.

With eight defensemen on the NHL roster, it would require at least two injuries before a call-up was needed. And that’s created a glass ceiling for Texas blue liners — no matter how well they play, they’re not going to be immediately rewarded with a spot on the NHL roster.

If a trade is made or Dallas loses a pair of defensemen to injury, Johns is on the short list to be the first defensive call-up this season — and I’d argue he’s first on that list.


Moving the Texas Stars Dec. 4 game in Milwaukee to Oct. 27 happened because of a scheduling conflict with the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

And Texas doesn’t get too much of a say in that, neither do the Milwaukee Admirals. The game has to be played, so the AHL found a date where Texas was in the midwest already and Milwaukee was home.

If either team had a legitimate complaint they’d find another date.


The San Antonio Rampage were physical around Stars goalie John Muse, but I don’t think anything overly egregious was missed by the officials.

It was a physical game, referees were “letting them play,” and I think both teams adjusted to that.

Texas should also be ready for that type of game 13 more times this season. San Antonio is going to be a physical team that crashes the net, and Texas should return the favor and send bodies toward the net against the Rampage.

Wrong Side of The Red Line Live: Radek Faksa on shoulder surgery, tennis, and Jagr

Radek Faksa during a preseason game this past weekend. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Radek Faksa during a preseason game this past weekend. (Photo by Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)

Sat down with Stars forward Radek Faksa this afternoon for the second episode of Wrong Side of the Red Line Live, a new podcast/interview show.

Amongst other things, Faksa and I talked about his recovery from shoulder surgery, tennis, and Jaromir Jagr.

Subscribe to the podcast by clicking here (that way you can get automatic updates, including next week’s episode with Julius Honka): https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wrong-side-of-the-red-line-live/id1042189167?mt=2