GAME 6: FLYERS VS. STARS
Returning home from a tough road trip that saw them take only one of six possible points in western Canada, Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (2-2-1) host Jim Montgomery's Dallas Stars (1-7-1) on Saturday night. Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 7:00 p.m. ET.
The game will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia. The radio broadcast is in on 97.5 The Fanatic with an online simulcast on Flyers Radio 24/7
This is the first of two meetings this season between the interconference clubs. They will rematch at the American Airlines Center on March 20. Last season, the Flyers went 1-1-0 against the Stars, with the home team winning both games.
In terms of pressure, pace and puck possession, the Flyers' effort in Edmonton on Wednesday was much better than the one in Calgary the night before. The final score, however, was much uglier. The Flyers lost, 6-3, with two of the Philly goals coming in late-game garbage time.
Carter Hart never quite appeared to get settled in during his abbreviated outing in Edmonton. That was part of the equation. The other part was that Connor McDavid (1g, 4a) and Leon Draisaitl (2g, 1a) delivered superstar performances, while the Flyers struggled to finish their high volume of scoring chances until the game was out of reach.
Hart, who was solid in the season opener and excellent in his next two starts before getting pulled against Edmonton, will be back in goal for the Flyers against Dallas on Saturday.
The Flyers made a roster move on Friday. The team returned center Connor Bunnaman to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Bunnaman is slated to join the Phantoms' lineup for Saturday night's game against Springfield. It does not appear that there will any recalls coming for Saturday, and Vigneault indicated that Chris Stewart will be in the lineup.
Jakub Voracek earned his first three points of the season (2 PPG, 1a) in Wednesday's game in Edmonton. Still looking for their first point of the season are James van Riemsdyk and Shayne Gostisbehere. Players still in search of their first goal also include Claude Giroux and Travis Sanheim.
Are the Flyers catching Dallas at just the right time, or at precisely the wrong time? That tale will be told on Saturday night.
The Stars have dropped five in a row, are playing the second half of a back-to-back and lost 4-2 in Pittsburgh on Friday.
The biggest issue thus far for a Stars team that came within a Game 7 overtime loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues of advancing to the 2019 Western Conference Final has been its inability to finish scoring chances. Roope Hintz and John Klingberg scored in a losing cause on Friday.
Klingberg's assist on the first goal and his tally of the second, both at even strength, were the dynamic offensive defenseman's second and third points of the young season. It was his first goal.
The team has just 17 goals to date, including a 1-for-19 spell on the power play to start the season. Team captain Jamie Benn (1g, 2a), Tyler Seguin (2g, 2a), Alexander Radulov (1g, 3a) and newcomer Joe Pavelski (1g, 1a) are all off to slow offensive starts.
Sooner or later, the Stars will get cranking. The Flyers hope it's not until after the Stars leave town.
Young defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who assisted on the Klingberg goal, is one of the fastest-rising young blueliners in the game. Many consider him an emerging franchise defenseman.
One pleasant early-season development for Dallas has been the play of Hintz. The young Finn has been a force -- hard to knock off the puck, diligent in winning battles, and finishing off his chances. The second-year NHLer (third-year pro) has four goals to date after scoring nine a year ago in his rookie year.
A year ago, goaltending was one of the Stars' biggests assets. That will probably be the case again when the team gets on track but so far, neither Ben Bishop (1-4-1, 2.84 GAA, .899) nor Anton Khudobin (0-2-0, 3.41, .888) have been consistently able to erase the chances that develop in front of them.
Khudobin battled hard in Pittsburgh but came up short. The Flyers will face Bishop on Saturday.
PROJECTED LINES (Subject to change, will be updated)
28 Claude Giroux - 14 Sean Couturier - 11 Travis Konecny
23 Oskar Lindblom - 13 Kevin Hayes - 93 Jakub Voracek
25 James van Riemsdyk - 21 Scott Laughton - 18 Tyler Pitlick
81 Carsen Twarynski - 12 Michael Raffl - 44 Chris Stewart
9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
6 Travis Sanheim - 61 Justin Braun
53 Shayne Gostisbehere - 8 Robert Hägg
79 Carter Hart
[37 Brian Elliott]
Power Play 1: Giroux, Couturier, Konecny, Voracek, Gostisbehere.
Power Play 2: Lindblom, Hayes, JVR, Provorov, Niskanen.
Scratches: 55 Sam Morin (healthy).
Injured non-roster: 19 Nolan Patrick (migraines).
18 Jason Dickinson - 91 Tyler Seguin - 47 Alexander Radulov
14 Jamie Benn - 24 Roope Hintz - 10 Corey Perry
13 Mattias Janmark - 12 Radek Faksa - 16 Joe Pavelski
11 Andrew Cogliano - 37 Justin Dowling - 34 Denis Gurianov
23 Esa Lindell - 3 John Klingberg
5 Andrej Sekera - 4 Miro Heiskanen
2 Jamie Oleksiak - 42 Taylor Fedun
30 Ben Bishop
[35 Anton Khudobin]
Power Play 1: Pavelski, Benn, Radulov, Seguin, Klingberg.
Power Play 2: Gurianov, Hintz, Perry, Lindell, Heiskanen.
Scratches: 39 Joel Hanley (healthy), 49 Rhett Gardner (healthy).
Injured reserve: 15 Blake Comeau (lower body), 28 Stephen Johns (PCS),40 Martin Hanzal (back), 45 Roman Polak (fractured sternum).