|(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
I had the chance to catch Texas Stars head coach Neil Graham this afternoon for a brief phone chat. The Stars are off today following their victory against the Wolves. Here are a few notable bits from the conversation.
Playing at 11am
The Stars played their first road game of the season at the odd time of 11am, the traditional school game in Chicago. Ten thousand elementary students packed the stands. Texas has not fared well in school games typically.
"Once you get through those morning ones, it's actually nice," said Graham. "We have dinner at a regular time and travel to the new city and get in at normal human hours."
On the oddity of the routines on a morning game, Graham is actually a fan of the way it messes with the schedule in some ways.
"This is where you have to get comfortable in the uncomfortable sometimes in the American Hockey League. It's a choice and you choose to embrace. We've got to play the same way no matter what and 11 o'clock is no different."
Getting the offense cooking
Texas scored seven goals, including two empty netters. Graham noted that every Texas forward had a point yesterday.
"We had to make a couple adjustments in strategy just based off of some tendencies of our opponent and with a short opportunity to prepare for that I thought it is executed extremely well.
"I thought we started the game against Chicago the way we finished the final 40 against Tucson. So it was great to see us carry that over and recognize that there was an opportunity to learn from the last game and then put it in practice."
Scott Reedy will not be a player this weekend as the team awaits testing results. He was hit by a puck in the game yesterday and left the game holding his arm.
Gavin Bayreuther had surgery on his ankle on Tuesday and will be out long-term for the Stars.
When I brought up the comparison to Reece Scarlett's 2018 injury, Graham noted that it was "apples and oranges" but in a good way. Scarlett injured his ACL and was out for the season, whereas the team expects that Bayreuther can return this season with the nature of the injury.
"It's too early for exact timelines, but he's a player that's committed to getting back and will obviously be welcomed him with open arms when he returns.
"While it's a loss on the ice, he's gonna use his leadership skills off the ice. We're still thrilled to have him around every day and thrilled that he'll be a part of this."
Texas seemed to give up a decent count of odd-man rushes in the Wolves game.
"[The Wolves] were rimming pucks on their first touch, and on occasion, we had three forwards trapped on these rims. It's part of the learning process. There were some odd man rushes on there shorthanded, which were addressed, because we can't give up those looks on our power play.
"It's more the nature of the time of the year than anything. But absolutely, there were some breakdowns that led to those situations. When you are early in the year and you see these breakdowns, you correct them and then you hope to minimize them moving forward."
Texas plays in Milwaukee on Saturday before a return trip to Chicago on Sunday.