It’s set: the Calgary Flames will play the Dallas Stars in the first round of this year’s playoffs starting Tuesday.
Most fans were expecting/hoping we’d see the Flames face off against the Nashville Predators, opponents in two close, entertaining and playoff-style games over the past couple of weeks, but thanks to a Stars win over the Anaheim Ducks and — shall I say it? — a surprise loss by the Predators to the Arizona Coyotes Friday night, here we are.
Let’s take a quick, clean-not-too-dirty and unscientific look at the Stars.
Top line of Pavelski, Hintz, Robertson
It goes without saying that one of the biggest threats coming from Dallas is its top scoring line.
Joe Pavelski is an established star in the NHL and known by all. The San Jose Sharks following the 2018-19 season parted ways with Pavelski, their captain and 38-goal scorer that year, declining to re-sign him given other contract needs (Erik Karlsson primarily).
The now 38-year-old signed with Dallas, where he clicked this season on the first line with youngsters Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson, leading the team in scoring with 81 points.
Robertson, 21, is the Stars’ new offensive poster boy, breaking out this campaign by scoring 41 goals (79 points) in his second full season with the team.
It’s much the same story for Hintz, 24, not far behind Robertson with 37 goals (72 points) in his third season donning green and black.
Cagey veterans, though
Not that long ago, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were leading the offensive charge for Dallas.
Just two years ago in the NHL’s pandemic bubble playoffs, Dallas made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final (as Flames fans well remember with Calgary defeated by Dallas along the way) before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Now there’s a changing of the guard in Big D. Benn, 32, and Seguin, 30, now patrol Stars ice from the second line, and while their plus/minus stats this season are rather suspect, they still put up significant points as secondary scorers.
Benn put up 18G-28A: 46P (and -13) in 82 games played to finish sixth in team scoring while Seguin 24G 25A: 49P (-21) in 81. About a quarter of their points this season came from their play on the second power-play unit.
Offence from defence
Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg almost need no introduction as established offensive defencemen. The pair was one-two for the Stars in playoff scoring during their magical run to the bubble Cup final in 2020.
And each has kept up with putting up numbers: Klingberg was tops among Stars defenders this season with 47 points (6G 41A) in 74GP, while Heiskanen scored 36 (5G 31A) from the back end.
Ryan Suter also kept the scoring machine turning for Dallas from the blue line. New to the Stars in 2021-22 after a nine-year run with the Minnesota Wild, the 37-year-old veteran scored 32 points (7G 25A) to place third among Dallas defencemen.
Under the radar
Keep an eye on Stars forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta. While the third-liners didn’t score during Calgary’s 4-2 win over Dallas on April 21 at the Saddledome, they had six scoring chances between them (four of them of the ‘high danger’ variety) in about 12 minutes of work.