Saturday, December 13, 2014

Charlotte Tops Texas 3-1 as "Old Habits" Dog Stars

Checkers' MacIntyre styimes Stars for 200th AHL win
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Another back-to-back against Charlotte yielded the same result as Texas dominated the first game and got stopped up in the second, losing for the first time in a week tonight against the Checkers. Drew MacIntyre was on his game as both teams trotted out the same starters in net for a rematch of last night's contest. Despite MacIntyre's phenomenal play, Coach Laxdal was looking at his team, specifically his skill players, when assessing the loss.

"I was ticked off at a few guys with the effort they were putting in," said Laxdal bluntly postgame. "You have to develop urgency early in the game. When you've got your top guy throwing backhand saucer passes through the seam, that's not going to be very productive for us.

"It's funny how we have to go after the same guys. I benched a couple guys early in the second period to get something going."

Laxdal stayed general, using terms like "top guys" to refer to the players he was displeased with. Specifically, Laxdal pointed out that players were not going hard to the net to create opportunities and many were reverting to old habits that had previously been masked by the team's overall depth of scoring. He added, "In order to put a winning streak together, everyone has to be on the same page."

Greg Rallo, who scored in the game, agreed that more was needed from the team, "We had enough chances to win the game but we didn't bear down on those chances. We made a push but overall it wasn't good enough."

Rallo, who had Coach Laxdal in Idaho in 2007-08, expanded on how the coach gets his message across, "He gives you a message and gives it to you directly. He tells you where you need to pick up your game and at the same time shows us the positives to create a positive community."

Scoring opened in the first when Rasmus Risannen had a slapshot tipped by Andrew Lowe for the 1-0 Checkers' lead. In the second, Texas yielded a second goal coming off a power play. Rowe, this time coming out of the box, collected a pass from Rissanen and went in on Lindback. Matej Stransky caught up to him, limiting the quality of his first shot, but Jared Staal got the rebound for the 2-0 lead.

Branden Troock did not play the second or third period tonight, going off in the first with a trainer and not returning. That led to some line shuffling the second, a bit out of necessity and a bit out of Coach Laxdal's aforementioned frustration with certain players.

Laxdal said, "These are habits for these guys that have been in place for 4 or 5 years. We have guys on our team that want to revert to old habits."

The third period brought hope for Texas. The Stars' power play activated with Greg Rallo finding the net off the tip of a Maxime Fortunus point shot. Their golden opportunity came with a 5-on-3 power play just after the Rallo goal. With 27 seconds of 5-on-3 on the board, Texas lost the faceoff and failed to collect a shot on the 5-on-3 or 5-on-4 portion of the power play.

"We had a chance on a 5-on-3, and we lost a faceoff. Guys have to bear down and be ready for something like that. We've talked about that."

There seemed to be an epidemic of broken sticks on the ice tonight as well. It was most evident in the final ten seconds. With Texas' net empty, Fortunus broke a stick on a one-timer that had a chance at the net. Chad LaRose scored into the empty net off the broken stick play to seal it at 3-1.

The Stars will take Sunday and Monday off in an attempt to rest up and ward off the further spread of the flu bug that has been ravaging the locker room. They do not play again until Friday in Utica.

Tonight's lines:
Rallo-Faksa-Ranford
Ritchie-Dowling-Glennie
Smith-Root-Stransky
Troock-Peters-Stefishen

Gaunce-Fortunus
Meech-Honka
Wrenn-Hardowa

Lindback

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Morin, Rynnas, McKenzie, Jokipakka (call up)
Hulak (out, illness)
Valentine (lower body)
Henderson (out, hand)

Tonight's attendance was 4,853.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. Charlotte - December 13 2014

11 comments:

  1. Tough loss to watch tonight. Momentum from a small winning streak out the door tonight. Lots of line shuffling tonight. Not sure who coach "benched" but there were a couple of guys that seem to be missing regular shifts. Maybe when the flu ends and the injuries are done we can make a strong playoff run. At this point I would be willing to settle for 7th or 8th in the West.

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  2. I hate those old habits too, like winning Calder Cups. That's an especially bad habit to get into. Laxdal is a complete joke.

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  3. Those "Old Habits" are what got us to the Calder Cup just 6 months ago. How do you take a champion team and turn it into nearly last place?

    The only thing that has changed from last year to now has been the coaching staff. For a coach to blame the players is shameful. The coach is responsible motivating the team. Tell me why he would send Dalhuisen, a player who would do anything to play, and keep playing others who are not?

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  4. The coach has an excellent point and part of motivating players can be pumping them up and part of it is putting them down and challenging them to be better at what they do. If you look at these two games, the whole team came out in the first game and played from the start to the end.

    In the second game there were only a few hard hits and Texas was outskated most of the night. The players that stepped it up the night before appeared to be resting last night and figured that eventually something would go in for them.

    As far as the coach the "Old Habits". This is a new team, and nowhere near the same team that won the cup. The team that won the cup had great scoring from our top lines and the other lines were counted on to bring a small part of the game. That is the Old Habit that he talks about. The guys that last year were the lines that went out to hold the lead and occasionally score are now the lines that have to do the primary scoring. This is a big role change and they do not always step up to it night after night.

    Enjoy last year, and embrace that this is a new year and a totally different team this year. Quit trying to compare everything that happens this year to last year and think that we should be winning because we won the cup. It is hard in any league to win champion cups year over year and infinitely harder in a development league as you see your best players depart for better offers after the type of season that we had last year.

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  5. I think the players just don't know what to make of some of the new coaching choices. The team isn't *that* different.

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    1. I agree. The team is not that much different. I feel confident that if we had the old coaching staff back with "the old bad habits" we would be in a much better position in the standings. I guess that's why Willie is in Vancouver teaching the Canucks how to use "bad habits" to play near the top of their division standings.

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  6. Can someone who was actually there comment on the attendance? I was at Friday's game where they announced 4900, and the place seemed 2/3 empty.

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    1. Attendance is always correct. They don't just make up numbers. It goes by tickets sold so figure your base is 2000-2500 for season tickets.

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    2. Attendance seems quite low compared to last year. Many of the games last year on the weekends were sellouts or close to it. Raising ticket prices seems to be having an impact on it. I know they are including parking but it still makes the price of the ticket look inflated, especially if you are trying to bring a family to the game. It costs quite a bit more than it did just a couple years ago. Also, team performance has something to do with the lower attendance figures.

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  7. Well, on Friday, I guess a lot of the bought tickets didn't show up, because I am telling you: 118, 119, and 120 were 75% empty. Top 1/2 to 1/3 of 121 around to 104 was empty. Two big groups of mostly children filled the corners of 114/115 and 110, and with them in place the arena was probably half-full (notice I didn't say half-empty!). Unfortunately, the kids left at 9:00pm, leaving a woefull small crowd on hand when they announced 4950.

    I hope attendance keeps up. The year started strong on the Calder Cup win, and we even had a mid-week sellout early in the season! But we had a good 4-5 home games in a row where we did not even look competitive. I guess that can turn off fans really fast. Hope they turn it around quick.

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