The Texas Stars might have 3 wins in their 8 games this season, but they have only won a single game. They just didn’t lose the other two. It’s little surprise they find themselves in the cellar of both their division and their conference.
Their most recent game, a lackluster 4-1 loss to the Grand Rapid Griffins on 3 November, came after five days off. They don’t play again for another five days, when the Toronto Marlies are in town.
- With just 16 goals, Texas is averaging two goals a game. With 27 goals against … well you can see where that’s headed.
- At 8.1% their power play may not be the worst in the league, but it sure acts like it. They are tied with Hamilton and Abbotsford for having yet to score a power play goal on the road.
- Of the team’s 16 goals, 11 are five-on-five. Three came on the PP and two are short-handed.
- Speaking of 11, they have allowed 11 power play goals in 33 opportunities for a 66.7% PK. Good for #30 in the AHL.
Colton Sceviour’s return from injury to play against Grand Rapids was a pleasant surprise. His goal from the top of the circle in the first period testified to what a great shot he has. A fan favorite, when Sceviour scored we had hope the night might go well. The Griffins dashed that hope just two minutes later. Yet even with Sceviour’s goal, Texas looked like a dysfunctional scratch squad with no real evidence of any coaching.
Among NHL players currently in the AHL, they seem to be filtering into three groups: either they’re playing to win and producing or they’re playing not to get hurt and not doing much else either. These are still coachable players. Players in the third group don’t know who they want to be, and they’re the worst of the bunch. One shift they dazzle and the next they’re invisible. Hustle on one, float the next.
Tomas Vincour has never seemed terribly interested in playing in Cedar Park, and despite the absence of the NHL at the moment, nothing seems to have changed. To me he is in that third group, which is a shame because the kid can dominate a shift when he wants to.
If Vincour could put as much effort into his game as linemate Reilly Smith, and if Reilly Smith could extract a dash of Vincour’s aloof, I’m-better-than-this aura and relax, they could do great things on either side of Cody Eakin on Texas’ top line.
As it is, Reilly Smith must be frustrated. He’s getting first-line minutes, including time on the first power play unit, he has a fan in Joe Nieuwyndyk, but the kid who lit up the CCHA last season can’t score a goal right now to save his life.
Scott Glennie finally got in the game for Texas last night. Various reasons have been cited as to why he’s been scratched until now, none of them entirely satisfactory. He looked rusty and his timing was off, but that is to be expected. It might be time for Dallas to accept that, as #8 overall picks go, Glennie isn’t going to go down as one of the greats. But what’s done is done.
When Glennie was good last year, he was a responsible two-way winger. When he was great, he was spectacular. I can cite those latter instances with clarity—splitting two Rockford defenders then while off balance firing a snap shot high stick side, finding Matt Fraser for a one-timer with an impossible passing lane, using his astonishing foot speed to chase down and stop a clear-and-away Rampage breakaway—and maybe that’s the problem.
GAZDIC / GRANT
Opponents of fighting in hockey should definitely not watch the highlight of the third period tilt between Luke Gazdic and the Griffins’ Triston Grant, but I suspect they will anyway because it was that good. Clocking in at just under one minute, it was a sensation not becase it’s chock full of jaw-rattling haymakers (although there’s one or two) but because these two resisted opportunities to end it and literally fought until they had nothing left.
You knew they were going to go at the face off, but I don’t think any of us saw that fight coming. I agree with Stars broadcaster Owen Newkirk, that Gaz had the edge in the first half, but Scott–who is two inches shorter and 20 lbs smaller–mustered an impressive comeback.
THE NEAR FUTURE
There is a visible lack of cohesion and unity on this team, something a road trip could help to correct. Unfortunately, Texas won’t be going on a road trip until they leave for their 27 November game in Rockford. By that time, the team will have played 16 games, 11 of them at home and the other five in either Houston, San Antonio or Oklahoma City–relatively short bus trips. So unless something magically snaps within the Stars and they start playing the way they did against Milwaukee last week, this team will remain in the cellar.
This franchise is getting too comfortable in the cellar.