Texas is 11-8-4 so far on the season, ranking second in the West Division and fourth in the Western Conference.
Head coach Willie Desjardins talked about his team while in Frisco.
Desjardins on what he likes about his team:
“I like that there are lots of good character players on our team, lots of guys that play hard,” Desjardins said. “I like our veteran players; I think they’ve shown good leadership. We have a lot of young guys that have come in and stepped up and are learning the game.”
Desjardins on what area he’d like to see improve:
“Right now, we are getting a lot of scoring off one line,” he said. “I think we have to distribute the scoring a little bit more evenly if we are going to be successful. It’s great that line is doing so well and that the power play unit is doing well, but that can be shut down and we have to get a little bit more balance.”
Campbell close to return
Texas goaltender Jack Campbell, who hasn’t played since Oct. 23 due to a knee injury, is close to returning to the lineup. Campbell went through a full practice in Frisco on Monday and looked sharp.
“I am hoping to play (Tuesday night in Oklahoma City), but we’ll see what happens,” Campbell said. “One day at a time. For sure this weekend.”
Campbell has avoided injury issues in his career, but he said he’s learned some lessons from this one.
“I’ve actually never been out before,” Campbell said. “I’ve always played through pain and it’s always gone away. … When I felt it at first I kept playing a couple days on it, thinking it would just go away. It didn’t go away, so I kind of learned from that. I’ve never been in the trainer’s room before. Now I know to have them look at it.”
The injury has limited Campbell’s playing time to just three games this season. He’s played two games in the AHL, registering a 2-0-0 record, 1.00 goals against average and .956 save percentage. He’s also played one game with Dallas. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 20, stopping 41 shots in a 6-3 loss to Anaheim.
Desjardins talks Dallas prospects
While in Frisco, Texas coach Willie Desjardins was asked about some of the Dallas prospects playing in Cedar Park this season. Here’s what he had to say.
On D Jamie Oleksiak (first round/2011), who was just called up to Dallas: “Oleksiak is a good player. He’s got everything you want. He’s got size, he’s got skill. I think he’ll play, I think you are going to see really good things out of him. In the American League I don’t think he (mentally) prepared himself quite as well as he needed to, but I think up here he will because he knows he has to. I think that’s the way guys are sometimes, they rise to the level of the different leagues. I think he is a guy that will rise to that level. I think he’ll be real good.”
On RW/C Scott Glennie (first round/2009): “He’s come back (from preseason knee injury) and he’s worked hard. I don’t think he’s at where he was in training camp, but he is getting close again. … I think the biggest progression (the past couple seasons) is just his attitude. He’s way more focused on what he wants to do and he realizes what he has to do to get there. He’s matured. On ice, I don’t think I’ve seen the best of him yet. I think I am still waiting for that.”
On RW Brett Ritchie (second round/2011): Ritchie’s been good. He’s a big guy, real strong and his skating is better than it was last year. I think he is still waiting to find his stride in the league. He reminds me a lot of James Neal in a lot of the things he’s done. He’s got good offensive skills and he shoots the puck real well.”
On LW Curtis McKenzie (sixth round/2009): “He’s done real well. He’s fit in, he’s gotten in on the top line. I don’t think anybody expected him to come in on that spot this year, maybe a third line player or fourth. He’s got a great attitude, he works hard and he’s got a real good chance.”
On D Jyrki Jokipakka (seventh round/2011): “Jyrki was really good early, and then he’s tailed off lately. He hasn’t played as well. His last game, I talked to him a little bit, and he played really well. Hopefully he is back on track. At the beginning of the year he proved he could be a top 3 D man in the AHL. … I like his vision. Even when he is not playing good, he still moves the puck well. He can get away with not playing his best just because of how skilled he is.”
On D Patrick Nemeth (second round/2010): “Nemeth has picked up. He’s had a couple of injuries, one at the end of last year and he had an injury here a couple weeks ago. He’s just getting back into it, but when he’s back he makes a difference on our team. He’s a real solid defender and he’s got a chance to play up.”
On RW Matej Stransky (sixth round/2011): “He’s come a long ways. I think he is one guy that the league caught him by surprise a little bit. The league is a little bit faster than he thought and he has to pick up that area of his game, his skating a little bit. He has great skills, real good hands, he’s smart and I like his attitude. I just think it might take him a little bit of time to adjust.”
On C Taylor Peters (free agent/2013): “Peters has been real good. He’s another guy that maybe has gone by expectations coming in. He’s got great skills and he’s a big, heavy body. He’s a guy that could play third or fourth line in the NHL. He’s got that potential. He’s just got to get better at his game.”
The past week
The Stars went 1-2-0 last week, and have now dropped five of their last seven games (2-3-2). Here’s a look at the past week for Dallas’ AHL affiliate.
Wednesday, November 27: Texas 2, Oklahoma City 1
The Stars wrapped up a three-game homestand with a 2-1 victory over Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Colton Sceviour registered one goal and one assist, and Chris Mueller also scored for Texas. Cristopher Nilstorp stopped 24 of 25 shots.
Sceviour’s goal at 6:49 of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and held up as the game-winner. It was his 200th point in the American Hockey League.
“It means I’ve been in the AHL too long,” Sceviour said with a laugh when asked about the milestone. “It’s obviously cool. I didn’t know about it until they announced it. It’s kind of a cool thing.”
Sceviour leads the AHL with 15 goals in 23 games this season.
Friday, November 29: Grand Rapids 5, Texas 4
The Stars opened a three-game road trip with a 5-4 loss in Grand Rapids. Goals by Taylor Peters and Mueller had the Stars tied 2-2 after the first period, but the Griffins scored three straight goals to build a 5-2 lead. Scott Glennie and Justin Dowling scored late in the third to make it interesting, but the Stars couldn’t get the equalizer. Nilstorp got the start in goal and stopped 29 of 34 shots.
Saturday, November 30: Grand Rapids 5, Texas 1
The Stars’ road winless streak hit four games (0-3-1) with a 5-1 loss at Grand Rapids on Saturday. Defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka scored his first AHL goal for the Stars. Allen York started in goal and stopped 30 of 35 shots.
The week ahead
Tuesday December 3, Texas at Oklahoma City, 7:00 p.m.
Friday December 6, Iowa at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday December 7, Iowa at Texas, 7:00 p.m.
12/2: C Travis Morin recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas (AHL)
11/30: D Jamie Oleksiak recalled to Dallas (NHL) from Texas (AHL)
11/29: F Austin Smith assigned to Idaho (ECHL) from Texas (AHL)
11/28: F Taylor Vause recalled to Texas (AHL) from Idaho (ECHL)
Here is how the Texas lineup looked in the most recent game.
Curtis McKenzie – Travis Morin – Colton Sceviour
Brett Ritchie – Chris Mueller – Scott Glennie
Mike Hedden – Justin Dowling – Toby Petersen
Francis Wathier – Taylor Peters – Matej Stransky
Patrik Nemeth – William Wrenn
Jyrki Jokipakka – Cameron Gaunce
Ryan Button – Maxime Fortunus
The Idaho Steelheads, Dallas’ ECHL affiliate, went 1-0-1 last week. The Steelheads are 9-5-4, ranking third in the Mountain Division and fifth in the Western Conference.
RW Austin Smith, assigned to Idaho last week, played one game with the Steelheads and registered no points.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.