Morning Skate: Texas Stars looking for better start, more physical play against Rockford

CEDAR PARK — The Texas Stars had a slow start in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Rockford IceHogs on Friday.

It was the first game back from a lengthy road trip and the first time the teams had played since Nov. 16.

Tonight, the back end of a back-to-back, the Stars don’t have any excuses for their first period play.

“We knew that Rockford is coming hard, they pressure hard in our zone. We knew that, but we were a little sleepy in the first period (last night),” defenseman Julius Honka said. “Today’s a different game. We have to be ready for that.”

Texas will also try and turn up the physicality against a Rockford team that has four hard-working lines.

“They’re a hard forechecking team and they don’t stop,” Stars forward Brendan Ranford said. “Tonight we’ve got to push back … we just need to be a little more physical while using our team speed to our advantage.”

With a win, Texas can complete another successful segment.

Stars coach Derek Laxdal breaks the season down into eight-game stretches. Out of each those stretches he wants the team to pick up 12 points. After the overtime loss last night Texas has 10 out of 14 potential points during the current stretch.

“You win tonight you get 12 out of 16 points, which is exactly what we did last segment,” Laxdal said. “And that’s what you need to stay in that playoff chase and push forward. So we’re in good shape. We got a point last night, we got a point Tuesday. If you’re getting points you’re moving forward and that’s what we need to continue doing tonight.”

Texas had an optional morning skate Saturday, but it appears that the Stars will field a similar lineup to Friday.

Laxdal said Jack Campbell will get the back-to-back start in goal, while Jussi Rynnas is dealing with a minor-lower body injury. Yesterday, it was reported as a minor-upper body injury and Laxdal did say a light schedule gives Rynnas more time to heal.

It looks like the only lineup change will be on defense. William Wrenn was doing extra work after after practice with assistant coach Karl Taylor, while Scott Valentine may be back in the lineup.

Projected lineup (with some guess work after optional skate):
Hulak-Morin-Rallo
Ranford-Dowling-Smith
Stransky-Faille-Glennie
Henderson-Root-Mangen

Honka-Nemeth
Gaunce-Oleksiak
Valentine-Meech

Campbell

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