Gameday Preview: Stars at Milwaukee Admirals

Texas Stars
40-27-4-6, 90 pts
#3 West Division
atMilwaukee Admirals
42-21-6-8, 98 pts
#1 West Division
April 8th at 7:00 PM
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

Texas will lace up their skates for the last time this regular season at the Bradley Center this evening. With Milwaukee already in the playoffs and Texas on the verge, it may not be the last time overall in the 2010-11 campaign.

Milwaukee has a chance to lock up the division championship with anything but a regulation loss to Texas. The Stars improve their chances of clinching a playoff berth with a win against Milwaukee but will need help in the form of a Chicago loss at Peoria or a Barons loss at San Antonio. If Texas gains a point and no more in Wisconsin, the Stars can still clinch a spot tonight with a Chicago loss in regulation and a San Antonio loss. As you can see, it's pretty complicated right now.

Depending on how things shake out in the West, tonight's battle could be a first round playoff matchup. It might be the one that Texas would prefer at this point, as opposed to Houston. Texas is 4-1 this season against the likely division champ Ads. However, the 4-1 record is misleading as to the overall play between the two teams. In the five games, only one was decided by more than one goal, one went to OT and another to a shootout. The Ads and Stars play very similar games and that is what makes the matchup so tight.

One missing piece of the puzzle is Ads goaltender Mark Dekanich, who has not played for Milwaukee since leaving their March 16th game in OT with a lower body injury. Dekanich has been sparkling for the Ads in 43 games played, going 23-12-5 with a 2.02 GAA and .931 SV%. The Admirals called up a young prospect from Europe, Atte Engren, instead of Chet Pickard from Cincinnati. The callup of a player from Europe instead of a short term fix like Pickard points to a more serious situation for Dekanich.

On the Stars side, I would be interested to see what changes Coach Gulutzan might make to his lineup. He has used the same lines for the past several games. The addition of Scott Glennie gives a good scoring winger. Perhaps swapping Backman with Glennie from Wednesday's lines would provide some pop. The Gazdic-Chupp-Backman line had success in mid-season, and a reunion might be good for them. Meanwhile, Glennie would get a chance to play with two high skill players in Morin and Rallo and show us his much-touted offensive potential.

The Stars come in on a three game losing streak while Milwaukee is at two straight losses. One streak will break tonight, and the winning team will know a little bit more about their playoff fate.

Stars injury/call up report:
Ludwig (lower body)
Vincour, Segal, Lukowich (callup)

Admirals Web Resources:
Blog (Official): In The Crease
Blog (Unofficial): Admirals Roundtable (@adsroundtable)
Twitter: @mkeadmirals