The past week has been great if you're a Flyers fan -- two solid wins against Pittsburgh and an overtime win against the Blackhawks are bound to put a smile on your face. It seems the Flyers have been playing their best hockey all season lately, and it couldn't have come at a more opportune time given the tough schedule they face.
We've seen them slay some giants, but can they hold their own against the more evenly matched Dallas Stars?
The Stars are somewhat of a Western Conference replication of the Flyers. Both teams have about the same number of points, they've scored a similar number of goals, and have let in just about the same amount. The only place where the Flyers seem to have a clear advantage are special teams, which shouldn't come as a surprise given how dominant they have been lately.
The Stars are on the edge of closing the season in playoff contention, and an extra two points mean a hell of a lot more to them than they did to, say, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers very well may face a hungrier team than they've seen lately, and should be careful not to let their recent successes go to their heads.
The last time these two teams met, things got a little ugly for the Flyers, particularly in the second period. Dallas' top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Valeri Nichushkin skated circles around them, handing our boys a debilitating loss. Benn and Seguin have shown no signs of slowing down lately, so the Flyers should keep an extra special eye on them. Luckily, Philadelphia has two stud defensive specialists that are more than capable of shutting down top lines.
If the Flyers successfully suppress Benn and Seguin, they should be able to pull off a win. One of the Stars next highest scoring forwards, Rich Peverley, is of course out of action due to a heart condition, and the talent level really drops off after the two main attractions.
Since Ray Emery got the start against Chicago, I'd imagine that Steve Mason will be between the pipes tonight. We've argued repeatedly that Mason needs rest going down the stretch, but since he's had a few days since his last game, the decision to give him the start seems fine.
Early indications suggest that Tim Thomas will get the start for Dallas. Tonight will be just the fourth start Thomas has had since getting traded from Florida, and he hasn't looked so hot. So that's probably good.
Game starts at 7:00 and is locally broadcast on CSN Philly. Dallas sucks. Go Flyers.