The Dallas Stars are starting their three-game road trip after a rather short one-game home stay, which didn’t go as planned as they lost to the San Jose Sharks 5-4 in their own building. The Philadelphia Flyers are playing their third game in less than 68 hours and if there ever was a time for the Stars to take advantage of the schedule of your opponent, it is definitely now.
The Stars also played against a weary Sharks team during their last game and weren’t able to capitalize on it due to many unforced errors in their defensive zone coverage and by turning the puck over. Today’s game is a matinee affair which definitely could shake things up a bit, especially with Philadelphia players being accustomed to the regime playing a matinee game 24 hours before this game against the Ottawa Senators as well.
A normal game-day routine for NHL players involves eating breakfast before getting to the arena for early meetings and a morning skate, if there is indeed one. After the skate, players will make sure their gear is ready to use for later that night. Players on the road then often eat lunch and take a pre-game nap before they have to be back to the rink at around 4 or 5 p.m. A matinee game throws every routine like that into the binner and forces players to play during their typical game-day nap time. (As a European following the league, this is the celebratory game of the month during which I can keep my sleeping routine somewhat healthy.)
The Flyers started their season in a very surprising manner, defying the odds and winning five out of their first seven games. Analytically they are not playing all that well, as John Tortorella has admitted himself.
“Our numbers … we’re not going to have many nights I think with great numbers,” he said. “The analytics stuff that’s spit out there after each game? I just don’t think we’re going to be a great analytic team. And we’ve talked about that. We’ve just got to try to find a way.”
Most nights, the Flyers have been buoyed by the stellar performance of one Carter Hart, who was posting a stellar save percentage of 94.1% coming into the Senators game, which ranks second in the entire league and has a very respectable 6-1-2 record so far. Hart also ranks first in goals saved above expected by a wide margin.
It would be interesting to see him face off against another young goalie in Jake Oettinger, who ranks 5th in goals saved above expected, but that match-up is still yet to be confirmed, as Oettinger is recently coming from an injury and started against the Sharks. Dallas might want to ease him into the flow of the games a bit, taking a long-term approach rather than just looking at one game at a time.
The Stars had an off-night in Winnipeg against their former coach and things didn’t really improve against the Sharks either. They are looking to revert that trend against the team led by Tortorella. He and his team will definitely try to complicate matters for the players in white and green but the key to the game for the Stars would be to try to play as controlled an away game as possible. They certainly don’t want to skid into a three-game losing streak.
From the 14 games played so far, Dallas has only been scored on first in a game twice this year, and both times the team has bounced back to equalize. The success of the Stars so far this season has been tied to grabbing an early lead and trying to extend a lead with their active play, which has definitely been a fresh change from the previous years under Rick Bowness. However, the last two games serve as a cautionary example that things will not always go according to the plan and scoring first is certainly not enough to win a game.
All hail Sir Peter DeBoer, slayer of the infamous turtle. pic.twitter.com/GQuT716pwo— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) November 3, 2022
However, maintaining pressure when taking a lead allows the team to accommodate ice-time evenly for all four lines and manage minutes for the older players on the team accordingly.
Projected Dallas Stars Line-Up
Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Mason Marchment (27) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Matej Blumel (22)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Joel Kiviranta (25) – Radek Faksa (12) – Luke Glendening (11)
Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpaa (2)
Jake Oettinger (29) started his first game against the Sharks but was evidently rusty, stopping only 13 from the total of 18 shots faced. It’s plausible he would want to redeem himself and try to get into the game groove.
I can also see Pete DeBoer diverting to Scott Wedgewood (41) for this game, while letting Jake Oettinger prepare for the double trouble in Tampa and Florida the next two games. Given it’s a day game, we will probably know the starter just a couple hours before the game.
Projected Philadelphia Flyers Line-Up
Owen Tippett (74) — Kevin Hayes (13) — Travis Konecny (11)
Joel Farabee (86) — Scott Laughton (21) — Wade Allison (57)
Tanner Laczynski (58) — Morgan Frost (48) — Nic Deslauriers (44)
Lukas Sedlak (23) — Noah Cates (49) — Zack MacEwen (17)
Ivan Provorov (9) — Tony DeAngelo (77)
Travis Sanheim (6) — Justin Braun (61)
Nick Seeler (24) — Rasmus Ristolainen (55)
Felix Sandstrom (32) is expected to start with Carter Hart (79) serving as the backup, given Hart started the first part of Philly’s back-to-back against Ottawa on Saturday. It is entirely possible Hart could play both games of the back-to-back, though.
Keys To The Game
Start strong. Flyers are playing the second half of a back-to-back, every time you face such a team, you need to force your style on your opponent and look to prevail.
Special team battle. Flyers are an opportunistic team and what they lack during the 5v5 play, they try to get back with their power play. Stars have been in the penalty box more often than they would like to and need to avoid unnecessary penalties which could turn the momentum on for the team from Broad Street.
Maintain pressure. Every time the Stars will take their foot off the pedal, you can count on Tortorella’s team to jump on that opportunity and take advantage of what is in front of them. Dallas needs to prove they are the better team in this match-up.