The Texas Stars are going to be well equipped to block shots against the Charlotte Checkers tonight.
Starting at practice Friday — and for the first time in a game tonight — all players will be wearing custom plastic skate protectors, which are designed to decrease injuries when blocking shots.
“As of today everybody is supposed to be wearing their shot blockers,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said after practice Friday. “It’s a mandate, obviously from top-down. Once players get them on it becomes another piece of equipment in your game. You know what? You’ll be surprised how many more guys are willing to jump in front of a shot and block a shot. If you take one off the foot, you feel good about not breaking your foot.”
Laxdal said it’s going to be a growing trend in hockey and there is a bit of an adjustment for each player, particularly the ones who didn’t wear shot blockers before.
“It’s a piece of equipment you’ll probably see more prevalent in the NHL,” Laxdal said. “There’s a little bit of a feel to it. When you get on your edges, sometimes you get real low and the plastic can hit the ice and you can lose an edge. So it’s something you have to find out and tweak a little bit … maybe shave it down, every player skates a little different.”
Laxdal compared the addition of shot blockers the to uniform acceptance of visors– something that seemed odd at first, but is now the norm in the AHL.
“It’s not something you’re used to. Because as a hockey player you want to wear as little equipment as possible,” William Wrenn said. “But it really is all mental, so we’ll get used to it.”
Due to a basketball-hockey doubleheader at the Cedar Park Center with the Austin Spurs, Texas didn’t have a morning skate Saturday. But based on Friday’s practice, the lineup shouldn’t change too much.
Scott Glennie is healthy and is an option to play, while Kevin Henderson is still out and hasn’t practiced this week.
Projected lineup (with some guess work):