|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
The 'great on paper' Texas Stars roster has some work to do after dropping a 6-3 decision tonight in their home opener to the visiting Colorado Eagles. The Stars looked disjointed in the defensive zone and couldn't put together a consistent attack.
"We looked pretty disjointed and didn't apply a lot of the things that I saw our group applying [in practice]," said Texas head coach Neil Graham. "That's not totally unexpected. I had a feeling this game could go potentially in that direction either way, knowing how both teams are coming in [without preseason]. Obviously, there's a lot for us to work on."
Coach Graham also called out puck management as a deficiency for the group tonight. Additionally, Texas's defense, which should be stout and veteran, gave up odd man rushes with surprising frequency.
"We [got] jammed up on the offensive blue, as opposed to maybe dumping a puck into a retrievable area. And we also had poor spacing. We already had a fourth D ready at the offensive blue, and now we have four guys stuck on the offensive blue line. They're going the other way 2-on-1. You don't see those looks often; that's not a look that our groups give up."
Matt Murray, who took the loss and allowed five goals for the first time in his career, had to handle four breakaways in the game. To add insult to injury, the club overall had difficulty generating a consistent breakout with at least one of those failed breakouts leading directly to an Eagles goal.
Colorado outshot Texas 17-4 in the opening period in a frame that set the tone for the night overall. The Eagles started on the power play within the first minute of the game and scored their first of the season with just seven seconds remaining in the advantage off the stick of Martin Kaut, the first of his three points on the night.
The Stars got some offense from AHL rookies tonight with Mavrik Bourque jumping in first. His first of the season came as he was falling down, a spinning backhand to knot things at one halfway through the opening period.
Charles Hudon answered two minutes later to send Texas to the room down 2-1. Colorado pressed their advantage in the second period to outscore the Stars 3-1 in the frame with goals from Kaut, Hudon and Jean-Luc Foudy. The Stars' lone goal came from Matej Blumel, his first in North America. It was a greasy one, as he pushed it just over the line after it trickled behind Justus Annunen.
Blumel was happy about the goal but focused on improving for tomorrow, "It was fun to play in front of this crowd, and I hope we're gonna make them happier tomorrow. I feel like we're so overwhelmed, all of us, and we wanted it so bad. We made so many mistakes, so it was a tough game. But we have another game tomorrow, and we all are going to be better."
Texas and Colorado traded goals in the final frame. Riley Barber opened his account with Texas with a floater from the right point as Annunen was screened. The goal came just after the Stars rolled off the power play; they had two such goals on the night.
Callahan Burke polished off the night with an empty net goal to make it 6-3. These two teams face off again tomorrow. The open question is what lineup changes Texas makes with scratches such as Jerad Rosburg and Michael Karow potential slipping into the lineup.
Injuries, scratches and notes
Scheel, Karow, Rosburg, Dmowski, Ducharme, Stranges (scratch)
Tonight's attendance was 5,980.