Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Maxime Lagace, Texas Stars Earn First Shutout of Season

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Maxime Lagace's 35 saves stood up against the San Jose Barracuda to notch the Stars first shutout of the season by a 3-0 margin. From a clean sheet, two power play goals and obviously a perfect PK, Coach Laxdal said the game "checked off every box."

While Lagace may get the stats for the shutout, he deflected praise to his forwards and defensemen, who kept the lanes clear throughout the night.

"My D and the forwards did a tremendous job," said Lagace. "Glad we could pull it out. It's good for the team and a good confidence boost for the road trip. I wanted it for the team."

Since moving to the tandem of Philippe Desrosiers and Maxime Lagace, Texas is 7-2. Laxdal added postgame that he needed both goalies to be up and running in the second half. McKenzie noted, "They're both playing so well, giving us chances to win every night. "

San Jose kept up the pressure through all three periods, ending the game with a full two minutes of 6-on-4 hockey.

"They came hard the last few minutes. When we got the PK, I thought, 'I'm going to have to go to war now.'"

If Lagace was going to war, Curtis McKenzie could be considered the infantry tonight. He went to the hard areas of the ice and was rewarded with two goals.

"If you go to those hard areas, you're going to score," said Coach Laxdal. "He paid the price for the goal. He's gotta muck that out, grind that out."

McKenzie noted that it was something he's been working to inject more into his game. "I think there's times I saw I wasn't getting to the net hard enough and not generating offense. A lot of times it stems back to that, not being around the net. That's where I have to be to score goals."

His first of the night was just a pretty passing play from Brendan Ranford, who tapped a pass to the trailing McKenzie down low. McKenzie beat Aaron Dell far side for the 1-0 lead.

On the power play, McKenzie got a rare chance to take a faceoff, "It was pretty clean! I was surprised how that was pulled back."

The puck went from McKenzie to Honka to Ritchie to the net within five seconds. Ritchie, just coming off a two-game injury, added more physicality to his game tonight, according to Laxdal, and was getting good looks as a result.

Texas poured it on in the second period, but Aaron Dell stood tall. The former Allen American turned away 13 shots in the frame and earned himself third star of the night based on that period alone.

The Stars were efficient again on the power play in the third period with McKenzie scoring his second of the night from the edge of the crease, jamming home a rebound five-hole on Dell for the 3-0 tally.

Coach Laxdal praised the Stars' finish on the night. With McKenzie in the box and nervous for Lagace's shutout chances, Texas killed two minutes of 6-on-4.

"I liked the way we finished," said Laxdal. "They battled hard. It's great to see them get rewarded with the shutout. That's a team shutout."

Texas heads to Cleveland to face Lake Erie twice before hitting the All-Star Break on Sunday.

Tonight's lines:
McKenzie-Morin-Ranford
Ritchie-Dickinson-Elie
Rallo-Faksa-Hulak
Stransky-Smith-Ully

Lindell-Honka
Johns-Oleksiak
Backman-Bystrom

Lagace

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Shore, Dowling, Blacker (injury)
Evans, Mangene, Kane, Muse (scratch)

Tonight's attendance was 4,175.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas v. San Jose - January 27 2016

3 comments:

  1. This was the most complete game I’ve seen Texas play all year. Every aspect of the team was contributing and it was amazing. Very happy for Lagace too.

    In Coach Laxdal’s post game interview he talked about getting Ritchie away from being a “swooper”. What is he referring to?

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    Replies
    1. Good question. Swooping in this context is best understood against what he said after that: hard stops and starts. That is, Ritchie is skating around with the puck to no effect as opposed to setting up shop in places where he excels, like below the goal line, and scoring. It's a finer point, but an interesting one.

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    2. Gotcha, that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.

      After the first period I think there were some people who were betting on the goose egg (of course you couldn't say it out loud). All of the players were on their game and it was just great to watch. I think the fans and team felt pretty confident even with how strong Dell was.

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