Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Texas Stars Open Training Camp, Continuing Dallas Systems and Speed

Sheldon Dries shoots on Mike McKenna in Dallas camp
(Credit: Dallas Stars)
While NHL camps have been open for 10 days now, the AHL is just getting started with most teams hitting the ice for the first time as a group today or yesterday. The Texas Stars got their camp underway in Cedar Park with a two-hour session that continued the lessons from Dallas camp and Traverse City.

"There's a good synergy from the guys from Traverse to main camp to here," said Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal. "They've seen a lot of system work from Traverse to here. For us right now, it's easier to get into some practice drills instead of going into the main basic teaching."

Indeed, Laxdal was running special teams drills at the end of practice, doing some 5-on-4 work with a rotating crew of players. He continued, "It's good because they know their teammates a little bit. It makes the first day that much easier, more flow, which helps with the second day."

AHL camp is always compressed with just a few days of practice before the first game on Friday. Laxdal plans to ice a young lineup in San Antonio on Friday and get as close as he can to opening night on Saturday in Cedar Park. That may be complicated by all of the camp battles currently going on both in Dallas and Texas.

"We've got guys from Texas pushing in Dallas right now. There's spot available. If you want to work for them, their there to be had. GMs have done a great job with the depth int he organization. We shouldn't get into the spot where we were last year with three or four free agents with the team right off the hop. There's still a lot of competition."

Part of those depth signings have been the addition (or re-addition) of veteran players, such as Brent Regner, Brian Flynn and Greg Rallo.

"We've got six or seven vets, so we'll have to manage that. [Texas Stars GM Scott White] has done a great job with character players, guys who can sell the coach's message in the dressing room. [Last year,] we didn't have enough depth with veteran and young players. We now have that extra leadership to get through the tough times."

The management that Laxdal refers to is the AHL's veteran rule, which you can read about in the glossary. With 'six or seven' veterans, juggling lineups to stay on the right side of the law there will be a tricky game night feat for Laxdal all season.

Overall though, Laxdal recognizes and acknowledges that last year's final result was not what anyone had hoped for. While so many of the players on the roster last season have improved measurably and are now competing in Dallas, that's a tough sell to fans here in Cedar Park who did not see a playoff game for the first time in five years.

"You're trying to develop young players and you're trying to win. You have to have that balance. Our job is to develop these players for Dallas and at the same time, win games for the fans."

Regner, Flynn assigned
D Brent Regner and F Brian Flynn both cleared waivers today and were assigned to Texas. The two were in the building today in Cedar Park but did not practice. They are expected on the ice tomorrow.

Today's lines
Given all the players still to come from Dallas and the fact that it's the first day of camp, I would take the below with a grain of salt. However, here are the lines that were used late in practice for some 5-on-5 drills, presented in no particular order.

McNeill-Dowling-Morin
Ully-French-Rallo
Fyten-Dries-Gurianov
Laberge-Markison-Moroz
Dahl-Thompson

Mangene-Bodnarchuk
Heatherington-Bystrom
Bayreuther-Hansson
Harstad-Sweetman
Corbett-Hanna

McKenna
Bow
Desrosiers

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