Losers of the three in a row, the Dallas Stars enter this one against the Philadelphia Flyers trailing the Phoenix Coyotes by two points, and Vancouver and Winnipeg are breathing down their necks, threatening to send them plunging down the Western Conference's standing if they don't do something soon.
The Stars have been out-scored 12-3 on the first two games of this road trip, getting blitzed by the Winnipeg Jets 7-2 before going to Pittsburgh and losing 5-1.
"We had some great opportunities," Lindy Ruff opined on Tuesday night. "I thought their goaltender, he made some key saves, but I think we let him off the hook on a couple where we missed the net. But I thought he made some timely saves where they turned around, we made a mistake and they put it in. The second period, we started to tilt it a little bit, but you miss those opportunities and the game goes the other way."
Kari Lehtonen has generally needed some help in first games back from an injury, but the Stars couldn't give it to him, losing puck battle after puck battle a more talented Penguins squad throughout. Still, Ruff now has Thomas and Lehtonen healthy and at his disposal, and choosing to start either on any given night moving forward would not be much of a surprise.
From NHL.com, " Lehtonen is 0-10-2 with a 3.50 goals-against average and .891 save percentage in 12 career games against Philadelphia. Thomas is 14-4-2 with a 2.21 GAA and .934 save percentage in 20 games against the Flyers."
Either way, the Stars' ability to end their slide depends more on what they do in front of their netminder, whoever he is, that what he does.
Dallas has been out-scored in seven consecutive periods. They have not held an opponent scoreless in eight periods. In those last seven periods the only person to score a goal besides Tyler Seguin has been Alex Chiasson. Seguin led all shooters with six shots in Pittsburgh, and of course the lone goal. He needs some help out there.
At 6-2-1 the Flyers are surging since the Olympic break. They're on a three-game win streak, averaging over 37 shots per contest in that stretch, and have not had a sub-30 shot total since February 8th.
On Tuesday they went toe-to-toe with the best in the league, taking the Chicago Blackhawks into overtime before Claude Giroux tallied the 3-2 game-winner. That followed a huge weekend of back-to-back wins over rival and Eastern Conference powerhouse Pittsburgh by a combined score of 8-3.
So they're kind of rolling right now, and are certainly confident. The polar opposite of the Dallas Stars.
Their lineup- Like Winnipeg's it's a talented group on a bad team team, waiting in the weeds to erupt...
In another example of how the Flyers are the opposite of the Dallas Starts right now- They report no injuries. Zero. The puck drops at about 6:08 on Fox Sports Southwest.