The Philadelphia Flyers got a boost from their two-game homestand, but now it’s time to bring their form on the road with a Saturday night clash against the Dallas Stars.
After starting the season with an away win and a loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators, respectively, the Flyers hit both home ice and their stride against the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers to the tune of 2-0 and 4-1 wins against the traveling Pacific Division foes.
Saturday, they hope to carry their newfound dominance against the Western Conference to Dallas. At the same time, the Stars will look to avoid the fate of their conference rivals as they seek consistency after a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night.
Despite returning home, it will be a challenging test for Dallas, given the Flyers’ defensive form this season and their ability to shut down star players from Vancouver and Edmonton, such as Elias Pettersson, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
“When you hold a team to that score, you think you were backchecking and doing all the right things, but for me, it was when we had the puck, and what we did with the puck to give us a chance to forecheck,” Flyers head coach John Tortorella said after the win over Edmonton.
“Our whole game plan is to make our opponents play 200 feet, and I thought we’re doing a really good job of that.”
Aside from the Flyers’ structure and responsibilities below their blueline, goaltender Carter Hart has returned to the level he showed as a young professional, riding a .929 save percentage through four games while pushing aside 47 of 48 shots in the two wins.
While Travis Konecny’s five points lead the team in scoring, an additional bright spot for the Flyers has been the vigorous return of Sean Couturier, who missed nearly two years due to a lingering back injury. Now riding a two-game point streak, his last goal before the Vancouver win came on Dec. 10, 2021.
For the Stars, close games have defined the start of their campaign. Two of their first three went past regulation and all being settled by a single goal, with their other win being a 2-1 shootout victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Despite earning three of four points from the two-game road trip, head coach Pete DeBoer saw flaws in his group that trailed Anaheim 17-7 on shots through Thursday’s opening period.
“It’s early in the season; it’s not all going to look great. You have to give them credit. They were ready to play. We warned our group,” DeBoer said after the game. “I wish we would’ve handled it better.”
In front of the home crowd Saturday, Stars captain Joe Pavelski could vault himself higher in the history books, having tied Patrick Kane for the sixth-most NHL goals by a U.S.-born player with his 451st tally Thursday.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old center Ty Dellandrea will likely slot back into the Stars’ lineup after being pulled out to allow longtime Anaheim forward Sam Steele to play against his former team.