The Flyers faceoff with the Dallas Stars looking to take care of business on a two game west coast road trip. After a frustrating loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, the Flyers look to hold their spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Currently, the Flyers are just three points ahead of the New Jersey Devils for the first wild card spot, and four points ahead of Florida who is currently on the outside looking in. Dallas is six points behind Colorado as they look to make a late season playoff push. While these two teams are not in the same conference, every game for each of these two teams down the stretch is vital for their playoff hopes.
In their first meeting this season, the Flyers were able to come away with a 2-1 overtime win in Philadelphia. Shayne Gostisbehere scored both goals and at that point put the Flyers to a 14-11-7 record.
The Stars have been one of the better teams in the league this year in Corsi-for percentage, ranking ninth in the NHL. Despite their star power on offense with the likes of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov, the Stars have not been able to put it all together this season. After John Klingberg at 61 points, the next highest point total for a Star is Matthias Janmark at 34. Depth has been a huge issue for the Flyers all season, and it appears to be biting the Stars as well.
So uh...let’s talk about the goalie situation. Alex Lyon was pulled on Sunday for Petr Mrazek, but over the past few games it’s been clear Lyon has played better. At this point I don’t think any of us have any idea what Dave Hakstol wants to do with his goalies so either could start tonight. If it’s me making the call, I’m letting Lyon get the start.
Outside of this game, the Devils face the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. With the Canes essentially eliminated from the playoffs barring a miracle run plus the Flyers and Devils almost losing out, it would be best served to root for them tonight. Worst case scenario would be the Canes going to OT with the Devils ensuring at least a point for both teams.
Three Keys to the Game
1. Keep track of Seguin/Benn at all times
Wow what a crazy idea! For real though, if the Flyers want to win this game the first step has to be keeping Benn and Seguin contained. If one of their depth pieces beat you, so be it, but force them to beat you not their stars....get it...stars?? Alright I’ll see myself out.
2. Do not use the Filppula line as the “shutdown” line (looking at you, Dave)
This is absolutely going to happen regardless, but the Flyers can’t afford to put Valtteri Filppula against the Stars best lines. Head coach Ken Hitchcock and the Stars are built on aggressive play and the Flyers have struggled with that seemingly all year especially on the power play. If the Flyers are able to handle the forecheck of the Stars, they’ll have a much better chance to get two points.
3. Take advantages of matchups
While the Flyers depth has been an issue for the whole year, at this point it’s safe to say they’ve improved greatly in that area with the emergence of Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, and more. The Stars have some nice pieces in their bottom six, but at the moment I’d argue the Flyers have the upper hand. If Hakstol is able to take advantage of this and get his top lines out there vs. the Stars bottom lines, there’s no reason why the Flyers should lose this game.
Flyers Projected Lines
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Lindblom - Patrick - Voracek
Weal - Filppula - Simmonds
Lehtera - Laughton - Read
Provorov - Gostisbehere
Sanheim - MacDonald
Manning - Gudas
Lyon (but who really knows at this point)