All told, the Texas Stars (8-4-2-0, 18 pts, #4 Western Conference) had a pretty good weekend. They put two in the win column against a club that had yet to lose in regulation. They scored a total of twelve goals and were 3/7 on the power play. The top line of Travis Morin, Curtis McKenzie and Colton Sceviour combined for ten points and Sceviour and Toby Petersen each had shorthanded tallies.
The other side of that shiny penny is that the Stars were scored on eight times in those two games, including three in the third period of the second game. Those three led to a frenetic final minute where Texas had to fight to hang on to a one goal lead after leading by four just ten minutes earlier. They were 10/14 on the penalty kill after leading the league in the early season. The fourteen opportunities were really the issue, as Texas does have an excellent penalty kill but suffered from repeated trips to the box, wearing down penalty killers.
Coach Desjardins put it succinctly, "The discipline has to be better. We're taking penalties we can't take."
Chris Mueller expanded, "We've got to be a little smarter with the stick."
Again, in the end, no harm done because the four points were in the bag at the end of the weekend. However, discipline and holding onto leads look to be two issues that Texas needs to remedy as they look ahead. They are on pace to smash last season's numbers in terms of times shorthanded. Last year they were a man down 269 times. This year, they're on track for 358 PKs. That's a trend you definitely want to reverse.
Scott Glennie looks good in first games back
Scott Glennie had a goal and two assists in the weekend's two games. He polished off the scoring with a solid empty net effort on Friday, showing some speed to beat out the Milwaukee defenders to the puck and glide the puck into the net.
It was a great reward for Glennie, who has been hampered by injuries and hasn't played in seven weeks. He looked speedy and showed some of the form that had him on Dallas's short list before injury. He played on a line with Chris Mueller and Mike Hedden.
"I've been working out a lot," said Glennie. "Bag skate after games and a lot of the same stuff I have been doing before. It's good to break back into the game and get your hands back. There are some nerves, but it was good to get into the game quick."
Jamie Oleksiak picking up his game; Nemeth picking up minor penalties
Good week, bad week situation for Oleksiak and Nemeth. Oleksiak had two goals on the weekend and is looking more and more confident in himself and his game with each passing week after a slow start. He was paired with Kevin Connauton this weekend and commented that being paired with a similarly offensive-minded guy helped him to think more consciously about staying back on the rush.
Patrik Nemeth, on the other hand, had a rough weekend with penalties, taking eight minutes including two hooks and an interference call. That's part of the discipline that Coach Desjardins talked about.
Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour headlined the night once again as Texas handed the Milwaukee Admirals their first regulation loss of the season with a 7-4 effort in Cedar Park. Each forward had two goals on the night. Texas had previously dropped two consecutive games with two-goal leads to the Admirals in Wisconsin and were cognizant of that as they approached this game.
"We talked during the week," said Coach Desjardins. "If we have a lead, we have to keep going after it."
After allowing the first goal, Texas went at the Admirals in the back half of the first and opening half of the second period. The Stars scored three unanswered, including two on the power play. Milwaukee got one back before Morin continued his goal scoring ways with his second of the night.
With thoughts of the previous two games against Milwaukee, Texas went to work in the third and managed to get out with the win despite a march to the penalty box.
"You don't forget when you blow leads like that," said Sceviour, referring to the games in Milwaukee. "They were feeling confident going into the third. We had to snuff them out but we didn't. We were fortunate to counteract each of their goals with one of our own. We have to have a better third period."
The Texas Stars had a slightly more cardiac effort Saturday evening against the Admirals tonight but managed their fifth straight home win with a 5-4 score in Cedar Park. After going up 5-1 late in the third period, the Ads scored three straight to draw within one in the last minute of regulation.
"They're a resilient group," said former Admiral and current Star Chris Mueller, who had two assists in the game. "Once you get a little momentum, that's what happens in hockey. In my years in Milwaukee, we always said never give up."
Late game penalties contributed to the comeback for Milwaukee again Saturday evening as Texas granted six power play opportunities to the Ads on the night.
"Penalties have gotten us in trouble," said Jamie Oleksiak. "When you have guys off and PK guys are logging a lot of minutes, it stunts you. Come third period, you can see the wear and tear."
After scoring four unanswered in the second period, Texas weathered the third period storm for a 5-4 win.
Coach Desjardins added, "We played a pretty good game, but I think they outplayed us in the first period. We had a good pushback at the beginning of the second period."
The Week Ahead
Texas plays at home tonight against the buzzsaw that is the Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames). Abbotsford has won seven straight coming into the contest.
After that, it's North Division road trip for the Stars. They will visit the Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks) and Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs) on Friday and Saturday and finish the trip at the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens) on Tuesday.
Texas is still down two goaltenders with Jack Campbell and Cristopher Nilstorp on the mend. Coach Desjardins stated that Nilstorp could have gone against Milwaukee, but the team decided to hold him out. It is possible he plays against Abbotsford.