The sixth-place team in the Central Division had big aspirations coming into 2021-22, but they certainly haven’t lived up to expectations. With a record of 4-6-2, the 2020 Stanley Cup runner-up have had their struggles. The most significant standout stat is that they have yet to win a game in regulation this season. All four of their wins have come in either the overtime period or a shootout.
As far as the numbers go, the special teams are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. They rank third in the NHL in power play percentage converting 29 percent of the time, but the penalty kill could use a little work. At just 75 percent, they sit at 25th in the NHL. In terms of the advanced numbers per Evolving-Hockey, they rank 17th overall in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) at 5v5, sitting slightly above 50 percent.
The stat that stands out is their actual goals for percentage (GF%). At even strength, they’re 27th in the league with 43.49 percent. That number is not optimal by any stretch of the imagination. They’re not scoring nearly enough goals to win games at a consistent rate or even at all. At 5v5, the number gets even worse, dropping down to 39.69 percent, which is 30th in the NHL. If the Stars want to have any hope of making the playoffs or even making a run at them, they need to start putting the puck in the back of the net.
The young defenseman Miro Heiskanen is always a player to watch when you tune into a Stars game. His ability to skate the puck out of the zone with complete control is among the best in the league. He currently sits at a point per game with 12 points in 12 games, and six of them have come on the powerplay. He ranks first on the team in that category, and the next highest point scorer is Tyler Seguin, with seven points.
The 22-year-old Finn leads the Stars in goals above replacement (GAR) and expected goals above replacement (xGAR), but interestingly, his defense is the reason why. As much as the box score might indicate his offense has been among the best in the league, the analytics would suggest otherwise. Either way, Stars fans will take a young player like Heiskanen as a tremendous two-way presence on the ice.
No matter how you want to look at Heiskanen’s performance thus far, he has been the most impressive Stars player. Considering how young he is and how much he has shown in his very young NHL career, there’s always a reason to watch out for him. He’s an electric defenseman with so much to offer the NHL world. Possession exits and entries run through this guy, and the Flyers need to be prepared.
The Flyers are coming off a huge win against arguably the best team in the NHL, the Hurricanes. Thanks to an unbelievable performance from goaltender Carter Hart, they were able to steal a win from the jaws of defeat.
The Flyers sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division with a 7-3-2 record, which is exactly the kind of start that you want to see. It may come in different ways (some are more encouraging than others), but wins are wins.
As a team, the Flyers rank 23rd in power play percentage converting 16.2 percent of the time. As for the penalty kill, it has been among some of the best in the league at 12th with an 83.7 percent kill rate. At 5v5, the expected numbers aren’t reassuring. A 47.2 xGF% and a 58.85 GF% could mean that some regression is inbound. We may have started to see it recently with the scoring struggles, but hopefully, it holds off for now.
The two leading scorers for the Flyers are Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, who both have five goals and seven assists for 12 points. Both have been instrumental in the team’s record, and here’s hoping that they can help overcome a Western Conference foe.
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom - Derick Brassard - Cam Atkinson
Joel Farabee - Scott Laughton - James van Riemsdyk
Patrick Brown - Nate Thompson - Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov - Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim - Rasmus Ristolainen
Nick Seeler - Keith Yandle
One Thing to Watch
The Flyers played one of the best teams, if not the best team in the NHL in the Hurricanes, and thanks to the goaltending, they pulled out a win. Against the Stars, it’s time to give the goaltending a night off. Even though it wasn’t Jones in the net, it would be far more reassuring to see the offense generating chances and the defense stifling them rather than Jones having to make incredible amounts of miracle saves. The goaltending has come up strong for a team that has needed it, and against a team like Dallas that has been a well-known defensive juggernaut in recent years, the Flyers could make it a little easier on themselves and the big padded man in net.
That’s all from me. Enjoy the game, everyone!