FLYERS (12-11-6) at STARS (21-5-2)
TV: TCN-PH, FS-SW
DALLAS -- Defenseman Jason Demers will return Friday from an upper-body injury that cost him three games when the Dallas Stars face the Philadelphia Flyers at American Airlines Center.
"(I) feel good. Don't like missing time, so this has been a tough couple of days. But I am ready to go," said Demers, who last played Dec. 1 at the Calgary Flames.
Demers will return to his customary spot alongside Johnny Oduya, a defensive pair Stars coach Lindy Ruff likes for one reason.
"When we have the two sets of lefties out there, our puck movement isn't as good. It's shown up in all the games where [Demers] hasn't played," Ruff said. "There's a reason teams like having the lefty-righty combination. When you are under that much duress, when you are on your forehand you can still make plays. If you are on your backhand things are tougher."
Dallas is 3-2-1 without Demers this season.
Jordie Benn, who had been filling in for Demers alongside Oduya, returns to the third pair alongside Jyrki Jokipakka, a healthy scratch in the past three games.
With Dallas (21-5-2) on the front end of a back-to-back, also playing at the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, Ruff made the morning skate Friday optional. Approximately 20 players skated and goalie Antti Niemi was first off the ice, making him likely to start his 19th game of the season.
Ruff altered his third and fourth lines following a 6-5 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Dallas' third line now consists of Antoine Roussel, Cody Eakin and Patrick Sharp. Sharp had played on the left side against Carolina alongside Eakin and Ales Hemsky.
The Stars' fourth line is now Colton Sceviour, Vernon Fiddler and Hemsky. Against the Hurricanes, that line consisted of Roussel, Fiddler and Sceviour at right wing instead of left.
Philadelphia (12-11-6) won 4-2 at St. Louis on Thursday, the Flyers' fourth consecutive road victory. Philadelphia is now 7-6-2 on the road.
Finishing up their own back-to-back, only four players skated Friday: forward Sam Gagner (concussion), who has missed the past eight games, forward Vincent Lecavalier, defenseman Andrew MacDonald and goaltender Steve Mason.
Since Mason was on the ice, he is the presumed starter against Dallas. Michal Neuvirth, who started against St. Louis, has yet to start both ends of a back-to-back this season.
Here are the projected lineups:
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Brayden Schenn
Matt Read – Sean Couturier – Wayne Simmonds
Chris VandeVelde – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Jakub Voracek
R.J. Umberger – Scott Laughton – Ryan White
Michael Del Zotto – Radko Gudas
Nick Schultz – Evgeny Medvedev
Brandon Manning – Shayne Gostisbehere
Injured: Sam Gagner (concussion), Luke Schenn (lower body), Mark Streit (groin)
Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Andrew MacDonald
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Colton Sceviour - Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jordie Benn
Scratched: Travis Moen, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak
Status report: MacDonald, recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Dec. 7, is a likely healthy scratch. … Nemeth and Oleksiak will each be healthy scratches, ending a run for them of three consecutive games as Dallas' third defensive pair.
Who's hot: Simmonds has seven points (four goals) during the Flyers' four-game road winning streak. … Read has points in three of his past four games. … Jamie Benn leads the NHL with 19 goals and is tied for second in the League with 39 points. … Seguin is fourth in the NHL with 24 assists and has 20 points (11 assists) in 15 games against Philadelphia.