The Dallas Stars, losers of four of their last five (1-4-0) take on their fourth division leader in four of their last five games when they skate into Philadelphia to face the Flyers Saturday night on TXA-21 HD locally, NHL Network nationally at 6:00pm CST.
Dallas enters Saturday's contest having been outscored in their last four losses 24-9, giving up a buxom six goals per game in that stretch. Their game in Boston featured three fights in the first four seconds of the game followed by a four goal barrage from the B's in the first period alone en route to a 6-3 thrashing.
Andrew Raycroft started that game but was lifted after the Bruin's first two shots found the twice. Kari Lehtonen had mixed results in relief but will reportedly get the start tonight in Philly as they try to get at least one of their netminders back on track in February.
The Flyers, meanwhile, carry into this game an absolutely gaudy goal differential of +41. They're 7-3-0 in their last 10, they're the top team in the East, they're second in the league with a 5on5 GF/GA of 1.37 (the Bruins were first in that category and look what they did) and they take over 32 S/G.
They are heavy favorite at home and lead the Stars in nearly every statistical category.
Dallas, meanwhile, is just trying to ice a team with 12 forwards but even that's no guarantee these days...
Reminder: Snow or no snow we're having a DBD watch party @ Buffalo Wild Wings in Addison. Come early and hang out with us starting at 5:00pm.
Continued after the jump.
The Stars will attempt to make lines without Jamie Benn, Tom Wandell, Toby Petersen, Adam Burish, Krys Barch, and Ray Sawada. They're all hurt and have been sent back to Dallas if they weren't there already.
The Stars have recalled from Cedar Park Aaron Gagnon, Francis Wathier and Colton Sceviour to fill in but when you're missing five NHL caliber forwards from your lineup you might be in trouble.
On defense Mark Fistric may be ready to get back in the lineup after dealing with an illness this week. Matt Niskanen could come out of the lineup in his stead but Dallas might also opt to go with seven defensemen and play one at wing (possibly Fistric or Niskanen) due to the inexperience of the call ups.
The three line depth we talked about so much following the acquisition of Jamie Langenbrunner has dried up with these injures. The opposition can now key in on the Ribeiro and Richards lines, leaving the other two with no special attention. Expect Marc Crawford to double shift some top six forwards to keep the defense honest.
Much would have been made about Adam Burish playing in a game with Chris Pronger given the minor exchange of words in the Stanley Cup Finals last year but Burish's broken orbital bone nipped that in the bud.
Kari Lehtonen is 0-9-1 in his career vs the Flyers. He was defeated by them 3-2 in Dallas last year in March shortly after being acquired by the Stars.
Philadelphia has won five of their last six home games, averaging well over three goals/game in those victories.
Certainly the Flyers are saying all the right things as an opponent as weak and struggling as the Stars are come to town...
"You never know where you’re opponent is at," said Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette. "But certainly, when you come out and it’s 4-0 at one point and you’re not getting the game you want and it’s frustrating … any time you lose game, you ratchet it up a little bit.
"It becomes a little more intense. You lose one, you lose two, you lose three and now there’s a special meeting behind closed doors. The heat gets turned up a little bit. I would imagine there a little bit fiery, a little ornery. But I don’t know for sure, I’m not in there. We’ll assume they are."
If Phoenix was the surprise team in the Pacific Division last year, then Dallas has to be wearing that adjective this year. -CSN Philly
We'll be counting on those of you not at the watch party to keep the other party going in the GDT and we will, of course, be chiming in, smart phones in hand.
No matter what happens on the ice...