Tonight the Philadelphia Flyers will welcome the Dallas Stars as they seek to win their fourth straight game. Game time is 7:00pm and it will be televised on CSN Philadelphia.
The Flyers are riding the wave of three impressive victories. On Saturday they shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins on their way to a 4-0 win. The next day they beat the Penguins again, this time by a score of 4-3. On Tuesday night they had to wait until the final seconds of overtime to attain victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Although the Dallas Stars are arguably the weakest opponent the Flyers will face in a while, they will need to be ready for a tough test. The Stars embarrassed the Flyers on December 7th to the tune of a 5-1 victory. Zac Rinaldo earned 27 minutes of penalties in his whopping four seconds of ice time, putting the Flyers on the PK for nearly half of the first period (7 mins for Rinaldo’s penalties, 2 mins for a Raffl penalty = 9/20 mins on the PK).
Despite the setback, the Flyers went into the first intermission up 1-0. However, Tyler Seguin’s natural hat trick in the second period, along with a goal from rookie Valeri Nichushkin, put the Flyers away. It was an ugly game for Philadelphia.
If the Flyers are going to win tonight they will need their leaders to stay hot. Claude Giroux has been on fire, with three straight multi-point games. His 71 points are good for fourth in the NHL scoring race and are one point ahead of Tyler Seguin. Sean Couturier has been impressive over the past few games, shutting down Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. Kimmo Timonen has also been turning in vintage performances, averaging 21:36 TOI over the last five games.
The goaltending match-up will be Steve Mason against Tim Thomas. Mason started both of the weekend games against Pittsburgh. He earned his easiest shutout of the season on Saturday, only facing 25 shots. On Sunday he played well enough to win and earned himself a game to rest. Tim Thomas, who was acquired at the Trade Deadline by the Stars from the Florida Panthers, is making his second start of the season against Philadelphia. The last time he played against the Flyers was during Craig Berube’s first game as head coach. The Flyers scored two early goals on Thomas before he left the game with an injury.
The Dallas Stars are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Unlike the Penguins and Blackhawks, whose playoff slots are all but sealed, the Stars needs every point they can possibly earn right now. Expect tonight’s game to be an intense dogfight. I’m looking forward to it.