Anders Lindback is happy he’s finally going to face shots that count when the Texas Stars host the San Antonio Rampage.
Lindback has watched the Dallas Stars last six games from the bench after starting on Jan. 15 against the Winnipeg Jets. He’s been practicing during that time, but it’s difficult to keep a goalie sharp when he hasn’t faced game-speed situations in more than two weeks.
That’s why Dallas assigned Lindback to Texas for a conditioning stint Tuesday morning. Lindback said he expects the assignment to last “a couple games” and he should start both games this week against San Antonio.
“It’s always a little hard, it’s so different than practices,” Lindback said. “It’s not too much to think of. I just try to prepare the same if I play or if I’m not playing. Try to do what I can to be as ready as possible. Usually a period in I start to feel pretty good.”
Lindback’s last assignment was better than “pretty good.”
The 26-year-old Swede started five straight games in early December and posted a 3-2 record. During that time he posted a .946 save percentage and a 1.59 goals against average.
“He settled the whole team down,” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said of Lindback’s past AHL performance. “Tonight we’re looking for another solid performance. He’s got to get back up and running … it’s a win-win situation for Anders and a win-win situation for us. We’ve got to make the best of the time that he’s here for.”
Lindback also adds another dynamic to Texas’ defense with his puck handling ability. Lindback is a significantly better puck handler than Jussi Rynnas and his ability to act like a third defenseman will be an asset against San Antonio.
“It’s huge,” defenseman Scott Valentine said. “I think for our defensemen it makes it such an easier game. Especially with a team like San Antonio, that’s fast and hard on the forecheck. It makes it a lot easier minutes for us when he can come out and put the puck exactly where we need it … obviously it’s something we’ve been working on with Jussi too and it’s something he’s getting more comfortable with it. But a guy like Lindback, he’s on another level in terms of playing the puck.”
While Lindback will patrol one end of the ice, Texas will have to find a way to solve San Antonio goalie Dan Ellis.
Ellis has been very good against Texas this season. The former Dallas back-up has a 5-1 record, .926 save percentage, and a 2.16 goals against average in six games against the Stars.
“I think it’s been in the back of our minds,” Valentine said. “He’s had some good games against us. We’ve also scored some goals against him. We know if we can get pucks to the net and get bodies in front of him and he can’t see it we’re going to have some success. Obviously he had a pretty big save on me last game, so hopefully I can get a little redemption.”