Morning Skate: Texas Stars set to face Milwaukee for first time this season

CEDAR PARK — The Texas Stars and Milwaukee Admirals haven’t played since early in the 2013-14 season.

So there isn’t too much familiarity as the teams prepare for back-to-back games this weekend, starting tonight at 7 p.m.

However, if Texas wants to do any advanced scouting it can turn to Kevin Henderson and Scott Valentine. Both spent time with Milwaukee from 2011 to 2014 and still have several friends on the Admirals’ roster.

“Definitely going to have a different feel than most games, having spent the past three years there,” Valentine said. “They’re definitely a high-skilled team, especially this year. They have some young talent in there and a really good leadership group … they’ve been a little bit streaky, up and down. But when they’re playing well they’re almost untouchable.”

The back-to-back set gives both teams a chance to improve their playoff position. Milwaukee has a 2-6-2 record in it’s last 10 games and is clinging to the sixth spot in the Western Conference with 71 points.

Texas is five points back in eighth with 66. A sweep in regulation could move the Stars within a point of the Admirals.

The game also starts a stretch of three games in four nights for Texas. After back-to-back games against Milwaukee, Texas will play the Lake Erie Monsters on Tuesday, meaning managing energy is a priority.

“It gives us a chance to operate and run 14 forwards (during the three games),” Stars coach Derek Laxdal said. “The backend is a little thin. Julius Honka is injured, he has a lower-body injury, so we only have six D (tonight).”

Texas had an optional skate Saturday morning and the team didn’t run lines, but Laxdal said rookie Devin Shore will stay in the lineup and center the fourth line. Gemel Smith will move to third-line center, while Eric Faille will come out and Taylor Peters will come in.

Jussi Rynnas will get the start in goal. Laxdal said the plan is for Rynnas to start Saturday and Tuesday, while Jack Campbell will start Sunday’s game.

Projected lineup:
Hulak-Morin-Rallo
Ranford-Dowling-Glennie
Henderson-Smith-Stransky
Peters-Shore-Troock

Meech-Fortunus
Gaunce-Wrenn
Valentine-Mangene

Rynnas

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