Joe Pavelski, Philadelphia Flyers, Rasmus Ristolainen, Sean Couturier

4 Keys to a Flyers Win Against the Stars

The Philadelphia Flyers are riding a two-game winning streak and sitting atop the Metropolitan Division with a 3-1-0 record on the season. They will have a big challenge ahead of them as they face a Dallas Stars team that has yet to be defeated in regulation. The Flyers have not won in Dallas’ home building of American Airlines Center since Oct. 18, 2014, so they will be looking to break a long skid with a win. What are some ways that they can accomplish this?

Ease Ristolainen Back

After missing the Flyers’ first four games due to injury, Rasmus Ristolainen is slated to be back in Philadelphia’s lineup with a lengthy injury to defenseman Marc Staal making the decision easier. Since he has played in a regular season game since the 2022-23 season, the Flyers’ best bet would likely be to ease him back into the swing of things.

Rasmus Ristolainen Philadelphia Flyers
Rasmus Ristolainen of the Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Ristolainen can provide decent value if he is used correctly. His $5.1 million cap hit is certainly high for what he is capable of, but the Flyers are better with him than without. Rushing him into top-four minutes would be a mistake, especially with how great Sean Walker has played to this point.

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Starting out on the third pair seems like it would be beneficial to him. Ristolainen can ease back into the lineup and become the heavy hitting and shot blocking defender he was last season for the Flyers.

Lean On Couturier

Before the start of this season, Sean Couturier had not played in a regular season NHL game since Dec. 18, 2021. It would seem like a safe bet that he would be a bit sluggish to start and perhaps a shell of himself. Incredibly, he has arguably been the Flyers’ best player and is playing some of the best hockey of his career. To beat a championship-caliber team like Dallas, he will have to be leaned on.

Sean Couturier Philadelphia Flyers
Sean Couturier of the Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Couturier is already being relied upon pretty heavily by the Flyers. With 20:45 in average ice time, he leads forwards on the team in ice time by a decent margin. With four points and a plus-seven rating in just four games, it’s not hard to see why. He is playing at a Selke Trophy level again, which has been a dream come true for Philadelphia.

Couturier gives the Flyers an elite centerman that is lethal at both ends of the ice. He helped shut down Connor McDavid, limiting him to a single assist on the night and not a single shot on goal for the Edmonton Oilers. The Flyers’ centerman can truly take over a game and will have to do so against a fantastic first line for Dallas, consisting of Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Joe Pavelski.


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Head coach John Tortorella has shown confidence in the veteran forward, and that shouldn’t change for this game. If Couturier can shut down McDavid, he can shut down any player or line in the league.

Prioritize Positioning Against Dallas’ Elite

The Flyers might get burnt if they give Dallas too much space and time in the offensive zone. With an elite net-front talent at the mound in Pavelski, the Flyers cannot let him get in open space. The Flyers cannot afford to lose Dallas’ best players, otherwise, they will pay for it almost every time.

Joe Pavelski Dallas Stars
Joe Pavelski of the Stars (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Flyers have already done a great job of limiting the impact of three of the league’s best players, including Elias Pettersson, Leon Draisaitl, and McDavid. With that being said, a player like Robertson should be no exception, even though he is one of the most dangerous players in hockey.

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Dallas has several players who could be argued to be some of the best at their position, and they can make you pay if you aren’t at your absolute best. Philadelphia has actually been great in terms of their defensive positioning so far this season, especially against some of the best players in the league.

Defense has been a strength as long as both Cam York and Travis Sanheim are on the ice for the Flyers, and both are pretty responsible. A defensive lapse is unlikely with them on the ice, and they cannot afford needless mistakes in this game.

Continue Dominant Penalty Killing

Over their last two games, the Flyers’ penalty kill has been absolutely perfect, even registering a shorthanded goal in the process. Against a lethal Stars’ power play, the Orange and Black will need every bit of their recent success on the penalty kill.

Dallas started off this season pretty cold on the man advantage, but in their recent game against the Anaheim Ducks, they scored two power-play goals that ended up being the difference makers in a 3-2 win. Ranking fifth in the entire league in power play percentage in 2022-23, their unit can do some damage.

With that being said, the Flyers can still counter them. Not taking any penalties at all would be the best way to counter their man advantage, but that’s rather unrealistic. Philadelphia’s penalty kill has been one of their biggest surprises so far this season. If they can continue shutting top teams down like they did to the Oilers, they should be fine.

In addition to struggling against the Stars in their building, the Flyers have not beaten Dallas at all in a pretty long time, riding a six-game losing streak against them. Both teams are playing well to this point, so this game could be a fun watch.

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