Gameday Preview: Philadelphia Flyers @ Dallas Stars (7:00pm CDT)

The Stars try for their third straight win over Eastern Conference competition this evening as the Flyers come to the American Airlines Center.

After falling behind 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night and blowing a 2-0 lead to the Columbus Blue Jackets two nights before, the Dallas Stars are right where they want to be: Learning. Always learning, but finding ways to win at the same time.

Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza combined for a game-winning power play goal in Pittsburgh with just three seconds remaining two nights ago, and now they take aim at the Philadelphia Flyers as Stars fans finally get their second opportunity of the season to fill the AAC with victory green.

While the Stars keep pace with the middle of the pack in the West at 2-1-1, the Flyers enter winless at 0-2-2 after a frustrating three-game home stand saw them lose consecutive shootouts to Anaheim and Montreal.

Flyers to watch tonight: Already four at a point-per-game or better in Wayne Simmonds (7 pts), Claude Giroux (5), Jakub Voracek (4) and Mark Streit (4). Those four have accounted for 53 of the team's 133 shots so far this season.

Philadelphia's last visit to the American Airlines Center was a good one for Dallas, though no one was there to see it. Snow and ice storms paralyzed the metroplex last December limiting attendance on that day, but it did not stop Tyler Seguin from notching one of his many Stars hat tricks in a 5-1 win.

In their visit to Philly last season the Stars lost 4-2 on March 20th.

Puck drop is early for the Saturday start- 7:00pm CDT on Fox Sports Southwest and Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket.

The Stars:

Erik Cole was sick yesterday while Vern Fiddler took a maintenance day, giving Lindy Ruff another excuse to mix things up significantly as far as lines went in practice- Which has come in handy of late.

See Jason Spezza with Benn and Seguin at times last night for an example, though Ruff said the experimentation is as much for defensive situations as it is for the offensive.

"If I try it in practice, it's something I want to look at," Ruff told media on Thursday. "I want to see how they look in practice and both times the lines that we tried have been able to make a difference for us. Sometimes, I'm looking at a line that can be a defending line in a winning situation where you're ahead in the game, where I have two centermen on the ice."

That being said, perhaps lines will be back to these at the start:


Or Eaves with Spezza and Hemsky. Or Eakin with Benn and Seguin. Or Fiddler with Garbutt and Roussel. Whatever works, which on the Eastern road swing was a variety of things. This time around, again against the East, it could be Curtis McKenzie, who Ruff says he intends to play at some point. Could Erik Cole's illness open the door?

Expect Kari Lehtonen in goal again.

From Stars PR:

Stars defenseman ALEX GOLIGOSKI recorded two assists against the Penguins on Thursday night, and now has points in two-straight contests (0-3=3). Defenseman TREVOR DALEY also posted an assist in Pittsburgh Thursday, and now has points in three of his first four contests this season (1-2=3). GOLIGOSKI and DALEY are currently tied for 12th among NHL defensemen and lead all Stars blueliners with three points this season, while GOLIGOSKI is tied for eighth among League blueliners with three assists.

The Flyers:

While the Stars toiled on the road the Flyers enjoyed three full days off before embarking on a daunting three-game road trip that concludes with the Blackhawks and Penguins back-to-back after Saturday night in Big-D.

A tough spot when in search of a first win, but there have been positive signs for Philly-Like out-shooting Anaheim 42-28 and New Jersey 39-26. They took Anaheim and Montreal to back-to-back shootouts and have scored 10 total goals in their last three outings.

Special teams is also a bright spot for the Flyers as they've scored five power play goals in their last three games, and what's just as impressive, they've drawn 14 man-advantages in that time while giving just eight to the opposition.

So as with the Penguins, the Stars might want to stay out of the box this evening.

Their recent lineup:


Del Zotto-Schenn

Braydon Coburn skated with Andrew MacDonald in practice but there's a possibility that Schultz, Michael Del Zotto, or Luke Schenn could come out if he's back in.

Meanwhile the Flyer fanbase ponders... The makeup of the 4th line? From our friends at Broad Street Hockey...

Hard to get all that irritated over any of these potential changes on the fourth line, especially so early in the season. VandeVelde plays center, though, so it would make sense that Blair Jones, also a center, would be the one checking out of the lineup. Then again, I doubt there's any concern about Jones or VandeVelde swapping to wing. Ultimately, however the fourth line plays out won't have much of an impact. It's not like switching VandeVelde or Jones or Akeson is going to be the difference between a win and a loss. [Broad Street Hockey]

Here are the moving pictures from the Flyers' latest exploits, to further edify: