Just a hair over four years ago, the Dallas Stars' Mike Modano potted number 500 in his illustrious career, assisted by Darryl Sydor. That was the last time the Stars defeated the Philadelphia Flyers on home ice. They've gone 1-3 against them since, including a 3-2 loss last March at American Airlines Center and the 3-1 Flyers win just two months ago in Philadelphia.
The Flyers are 4-3-1 on the road in the Western Conference so far this year and have points in their last three road games. They've struggled a little as of late, going 4-4-2 in their last ten and have lost physical presence and frequent resident of the penalty box Chris Pronger for the next couple of weeks.
Dallas enters the game (extremely tenuously) holding onto sixth place, but with Calgary and Nahsville charging hard from behind and with Anaheim back there somewhere as well, a win tonight would go a very long way toward settling an anxious fan base and what must be an anxious locker room.
While the Flyers didn't claim a playoff spot in the East last year until the final day of the season, they can clinch one tonight with a win over the Stars and expect that to be all the motivation they need.
The Stars have gone 11-5-1 against the Eastern Conference this year and those 23 points are a big reason why Dallas is still in it. Philadelphia will close out Eastern competition for Dallas this year.
As usual these days we turn out attention toward the trainers and the doctor and talk about who is out and who is in tonight...
Continued after the jump
It was little surprise to anyone yesterday when the Stars proclaimed both Adam Burish and Loui Eriksson to be out for Saturday's home game against the Flyers. With three entire days of rest following this game and then two more before they head to Nashville they can hopefully get them both back in the near future.
Without them the Stars will have to pick up the slack by committee as they did against the Blackhawks. Toby Petersen's excellent penalty killing and tenacious energy filled the Burish void on Thursday and goals from people like Jason Williams and Brandon Segal provided the offensive supplementation the Stars will need with their Swedish sniper out indefinitely.
Philadelphia has a share of first in the East but only the league's 16th best power play. Their special prowess, instead, is on the PK where they are 7th at 83.8%.
Stars fans will have a close eye on Nashville hosting Detroit tonight as well as the Kings and Ducks. If things fall wrong for Dallas both at the AAC and on scoreboard elsewhere the 9th Predators can tie them at 84 points and the Ducks can move within one, further complicating the situation down the stretch.
Kari Lehtonen will start in net for Dallas.
The Stars are having a rare morning skate in Frisco today rather than the American Airlines Center and the Flyers have chosen not to skate at all today, so details on scratches and whatnot will have to wait. We'll update when we hear. Could this be the day that Mark Fistric gets back into the lineup or do you roll with the group that crushed the Blackhawks 5-0?
It should be another exciting night with an annoyingly large visiting crowd at the AAC. We hope to see you all out there filling up the building, or here in the Gameday Thread partying with us. Or both, as the case may be.