The Texas Stars continued training camp today after an off day yesterday. They will play an intra-squad scrimmage tomorrow night, which is closed to the public, followed by more practice into next week. The team will be off on Monday but play another scrimmage on Tuesday to simulate more game scenarios, including special teams and 4v4 and 3v3 situations.
The practice today was up-tempo as they've all been, divided into two groups practicing for an about 45 minutes each. There was focus on breakouts as well as a bit of time on O-zone play and power play. Marian Studenic was noticeable to me in his session with a few nice snipes. Curtis McKenzie and Riley Barber were set up together in theirs and came off the ice discussing tactics from the offensive drills.
I caught up with Neil Graham after the practice in his office and picked his brain on a few topics.
On the general tone and tenor of camp so far:
"I think everyone should feel good four days into camp. I think typically that's the the answer you hear. ... There has been pace. The compete has been consistent. I think the players have been doing a good job of absorbing messages, hearing new messages and then doing their best to apply it."
On possibly making cuts after the scrimmage:
"Tomorrow, a little skate. In the evening, we will have our intra-squad game. It won't be perfect, but it'll give us a better sample size to thumb through. Teach again.
"That's kind of the one tough part about the exhibition, you know, I know that's something where [for] your trial players and guys on the bubble in particular, you want to give those guys that fair opportunity. And I think that intra-squad game is to take the place of that and give everyone a fair opportunity to showcase themselves. But we'll see where we lie."
On the difference between a preseason game, which Texas will not have this year, and scrimmages:
"You'd rather have a preseason game but I'd also rather live in and coach in Texas. We have a great spot here. If the one issue is that we no longer have San Antonio for a preseason game, that's something we work around"
On the team's depth, especially on offense:
"I think we have a lot of guys with offensive upside. I think we have a lot of guys that can skate. We have a lot of guys that can be multi-tools on both forward and D. Now it's important to allow the players the right combinations to mesh."
On the depth of the defense, which will still have at least one more player to be added from Dallas:
"We have a pretty deep back end where you may not be as concerned about particular matchups and more about distribution of scenarios. And I think that's favorable if we can execute that correctly."
Texas is still waiting on the final decision from Dallas on how to handle goalies, but right now Matt Murray, Adam Scheel and Remi Poirier are all taking place in both group practices. Depending on how things shake out with Anton Khudobin, that has a ripple effect to Texas. As Graham said when we spoke, that's one of those things that you have out of your control to a large part and so his club is focusing on what they can control now.