With at least a .500 road trip in the bank after wins in Tampa Bay and Miami, the Dallas Stars now turn their focus to the Philadelphia Flyers as a big dose of the Eastern Conference continues. They have the Penguins to look forward to on Thursday and Florida again on Saturday back at home before play finally returns to the West.
Dallas is 3-0 against the lesser conference to start the year, and went 19-11-2 against them last season.
They enter this one off a 37 shot performance in a come-from-behind win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday that saw Tyler Seguin score four points.
Special teams and goaltending have been good for them in this run- Their 33.3% power play has them third in the league on the young season, and their penalty kill, while not statistically impressive, hasn't allowed a goal in their last three games, and for good reason- They've only been shorthanded three times in that stretch.
Continued discipline will be key against the Flyers, and even more so against the Penguins on Thursday if the Stars are to really play with house money on this four-game swing.
Enjoy the game on NBC Sports Network this evening, where even though Dave Strader and Razor have called games together there in the past, they won't be featured. (theticket.com)
Who will start in net? Kari Lehtonen has a three-game streak going. He is also habitually terrible against the Flyers.
"We have two guys that have proven they can both win games for us," Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. "To give you an example, we are traveling from Pittsburgh and playing a day later, that's a situation where one guy could be rested, and you want to go with him. It isn't going to be win and you're in. For me, it's going to be making sure the right guy is in at the right time."
Translation: We'll know more after morning skate.
The forward group should stay the same with Patrick Eaves, Curtis McKenzie and Travis Moen still figuring to be out with injuries.
The defensive group could get a shakeup, it's been speculated. Jordie Benn and Jyrki Jokipakka have had their moments, both good and bad- And now five games in Nemeth and Oleksiak have been given any chances. Could that change here tonight? Or on Thursday? The smart money says yes, if only because you can't carry guys and never give them a look.
To stick with a lineup that has won three in a row is tempting, though Ruff knows he'd like to get those guys in the game soon.
It's hard to know what to say about the Flyers. They haven't played in six days, for one thing.
They got beat by the Panthers 7-1 on the road, only to turn around and beat that same squad two days later, shutting them out 1-0. They lost their first two games and won the second two, including an impressive 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
They allowed four power play goals against in their first 10 penalty kill attempts, then turned around and killed 11 straight.
And most notable of all- They allowed 10 goals in their first two. None since in consecutive shutouts.
In short, they're four-game sample size tells us nothing. They've had a lengthy break to contemplate just these same things, and are going to be eager to prove that their last two games were the rule and the first two were the exception.
The news in Philly when they went on hiatus surrounded their situation in net- Steve Mason started each of their first two failed outings, then had to leave for a "family issue".
Michael Neuvirth started in his place and posted two shutouts. A five day break brought speculation, but there's little reason to think that Neuvirth won't be given the chance to continue his streak.
From "The Morning Call"-
Umberger unhappy?: R.J. Umberger, just coming off an upper-body injury, appears to be the odd-man out at forward for the Dallas game.
Umberger spent a lot of time on the ice after practice on Monday and wore a glum expression as he walked into the locker room.
Hakstol declined to say whether Umberger, who lost his spot to Sam Gagner during his injury absence, will be on the bench for this contest but all signs point in that direction.
From Stars PR:
THE CITY OF BROTHERLY SHOVE
The Dallas Stars continue their four-game Eastern Conference road trip on Tuesday night with a matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Dallas collected points in both games last season (1-0-1) and defeated the Flyers, 2-1, on March 10 in the team's last visit to Philadelphia. Stars forward Patrick Sharp was originally selected in the third round (95th overall) by Philadelphia in the 2001 NHL Draft. Sharp recorded two assists (0-2=2) last season in two games against them and has eight points (2-6=8) in 10 career games against the Flyers. He also has seven points (1-6=7) in his last five contests against his former club and points (0-2=2) in two of his last three games at Philadelphia.
BENN THERE, DONE THAT
Stars captain Jamie Benn tallied three points (2-1=3) in Saturday night's comeback win at Florida and now has points in all five games this season (5-3=8). The native of Victoria, B.C. has seven points (3-4=7) in eight career games against the Flyers and has notched points in six of his last seven games (3-4=7) against them. Benn shares fourth in the NHL and first on the Stars with eight points (5-3=8). This marks the first time in his NHL career that he has opened a season with points in five-straight games and his eight points are the most he's ever recorded through the first five games of the season.