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At the Rink: Flyers at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- As the Philadelphia Flyers begin a three-game road trip Saturday at American Airlines Center, Flyers coach Craig Berube has a simple formula to hold the speed-laden Dallas Stars, winners of two straight, in check.

"Our team tonight needs to make them play in their own end. And to do that, we need to shoot the hockey puck. If you make them play facing their net all night, you'll be in better shape," Berube said after the morning skate. "Otherwise, if you want to make plays and turn the puck over, they're gone. They're fast and they've got 'D' that can jump up and play. They're a real good attack team with the speed."

It appears Berube is keeping his lines almost intact from the Flyers 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, but with one exception.

That's where Chris VandeVelde appears to be in line to make his season debut centering a line alongside left wing Zac Rinaldo and right wing Blair Jones.

"I get the call-up and get right in the lineup. It's pretty exciting," VandeVelde, who was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Wednesday, said. "I'm excited to get out there."

On defense, Braydon Coburn (lower body), who has missed the past three games, will again be out on Saturday. That means Andrew MacDonald and Nick Schultz will comprise the Flyers second defensive pair.

But Coburn, who last played on Oct. 8 at the Boston Bruins, is close to returning.

"He's just not ready," Berube said. "It's early in the season. He doesn't feel he's ready, so you don't want to put a guy in a position like that."

Goalie Steve Mason was first off the ice for the Flyers and will start his fourth game of the season.

Dallas heads into Saturday on a two-game winning streak, after winning 4-2 at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday and 3-2 at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff admits it's nice to be home and start a quick two-game homestand against the Flyers.

"Well, it was nice to have a successful road trip," Ruff said. "We got to come back home and play well. The club we're playing is well-rested and I think they're really anxious to play a good game too."

Ruff made several minor changes to his lines, moving right wing Patrick Eaves from the second to the first line alongside captain Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin. Left wing Erik Cole moves from the fourth to the second line.

Colton Sceviour, who played on the right side of the first line in Pittsburgh, will likely be scratched. That means left wing Curtis McKenzie, recalled from Texas of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, figures to make his NHL debut on the fourth line alongside right wing Shawn Horcoff and center Vernon Fiddler.

"I was kind of speechless at first, I couldn't really grasp it," McKenzie, who will have six friends and family from his native British Columbia at the game tonight, said. "Finally getting a chance to get in the first NHL game is a pretty big moment to remember."

Goalie Kari Lehtonen was first off the ice for Dallas and will start a third straight game.

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael RafflClaude GirouxJakub Voracek

Brayden SchennPierre-Edouard BellemareWayne Simmonds

R.J. UmbergerSean CouturierMatt Read

Zac RinaldoChris VandeVelde - Blair Jones

Nicklas GrossmannMark Streit

Andrew MacDonaldNick Schultz

Michael Del ZottoLuke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Jason Akeson.

Injured: Braydon Coburn (lower body), Vincent Lecavalier (lower body), Chris Pronger (post concussion syndrome), Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Ryan White (groin).


Jamie BennTyler SeguinPatrick Eaves

Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerCurtis McKenzie

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Jordie Benn – Brendan Dillon

Kevin ConnautonPatrik Nemeth

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Colton Sceviour.

Injured: Sergei Gonchar (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (groin/hip).

Status report: McKenzie is in line to make his NHL debut after being a healthy scratch for Stars wins in Columbus and Pittsburgh earlier in the week. Ruff said he liked what he saw from McKenzie, the 2013 AHL Rookie of the Year, in preseason and wanted to see how he handled playing in the NHL.

Who's hot: Simmonds, who leads the Flyers with seven points, has five goals over his past three games. … Benn has two goals and three assists, and Seguin has four goals over the past two games for Dallas.

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