CEDAR PARK — Texas Stars captain Maxime Fortunus will return to the lineup tonight after battling an upper-body injury for about month.
“It’s not really fun to not be in the lineup for that long of time,” Fortunus, who hasn’t played since Feb. 8, said. “I’ve been skating hard in practices for the past couple weeks … I have to get in there and make sure I’m a factor in the game.”
The toughest past of the injury was watching games, Fortunus said. He said there’s a different stress level about watching and “not being able to help your team,” while sitting in the stands.
Stars coach Derek Laxdal said Fortunus should be a “consistent contributor” tonight and there aren’t any plans to scale back on the veteran defenseman’s playing time against the Iowa Wild. Fortunus is expected to play on the second defensive pairing with Derek Meech.
It will be Texas’ first game in six days and the first game action since a pair of disappointing losses against the Rockford IceHogs.
During that time Texas had a trio full-length practices, a rarity during the team’s prior road trip. With that added practice time Texas worked on a “little bit of everything,” and the team put in extra conditioning work after off days on Sunday and Monday.
“There’s some pros and cons (to the break),” Taylor Peters said. “Sometimes when we have a longer break we do that extra cardio and conditioning. The longer practice breaks between games means we can focus on systems. We can really dig deep and bear down on what we need to work on. That way coming out of it we’re a better team than we were before.”
Texas had an optional skate Friday morning and most of the team participated. Travis Morin and Meech didn’t skate, but both are expected to be in the lineup.
Scott Glennie skated in a red no-contact jersey and he’ll probably be a scratch tonight.
Jussi Rynnas will start in goal.
Projected lineup (with some guesswork after an optional skate):