The Stars do not mind being called boring.
In years past, in the regular season and now during a low-scoring first-round series against Calgary, the Stars have been credited (or blamed) with a style of hockey that stifles offense and limits creativity. The opening two games against the Flames have set up the series as the lowest scoring one in the modern era of the NHL (since 1967-68).
“I know it’s sometimes boring for fans, but I think the series will be lots of physical [play], so fans will find something else than goals, ”Stars forward Radek Faksa said. “To be honest, I do not care if we are boring or not. If we win, I do not care. ”
Entering Saturday night’s Game 3, the Flames and Stars combined to score three goals in the first two games in Calgary. One was on a power play. One was an empty-net goal. The 1.50 total goals per game is far behind the next lowest-scoring series this season: three different series have averaged six total goals per game.
Before this series, the lowest-scoring series in franchise history was the Stars’ second-round victory over the Oilers in 1997-98, when the two teams averaged 2.80 combined goals per game.
Lowest scoring rounds in Stars franchise history
|Season||Round||Opponent||Combined goals for the game|
|2021-22||First||Calgary||1.50 through two games|
“We just always have a philosophy, you get back and you work from the inside out,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “Do not work from the outside in. Come inside, stop and then you work out.
“You’ve got to get back to the front of the net, the house we call it, and then you work from the inside out. They’ll get some outside shots but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got bodies in there to control the rebounds and get pucks out of there. “
Now, a goal-scoring uptick should be expected in the final (at least) three games of the series. Every other series in league history has been higher scoring, and this season was an increasingly offensive season.
At home, the Stars have averaged 0.66 more goals per game this season, so Dallas expects its output to increase. The Flames finished the season sixth in the league with 291 goals, and boast the firepower of three 40-goal scorers, and two 100-point scorers this season.
“We’re getting the same amount of opportunities that we’re getting in the regular season and we’re giving up fewer,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “That’s playoff hockey for the people who haven’t watched it live for a while.”
The Stars have leaned into their identity as a defense-first team.
In previous years, it has been led by the defense built by Bowness and backstopped by Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin in goal. This season, a carousel of goaltenders led to a middling defensive rank, but Jake Oettinger has been the best player in the first two games.
Oettinger posted a shutout in Game 2, and has allowed just one goal on 55 shots this series.
“It’s been a little while now that we’ve had this identity,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said. “It takes time to understand what works and what does not. I’ve been here in Dallas when we try to outscore teams. It’s been a lot of fun, you get a lot of goals and you get accolades, and sometimes guys get more money. ”
Lowest scoring rounds in the Modern Era (since 1967-68)
|Season||Round||Opponents||Combined goals per game|
|2021-22||First||Dallas vs. Calgary||1.50 through two games|
|1975-76||Preliminary||Atlanta vs. Los Angeles||2.00|
|2017-18||First||Los Angeles vs. Vegas||2.50|
|2002-03||Final Conference||Anaheim vs. Minnesota||2.50|
|2001-02||First||Ottawa vs. Philadelphia||2.60|
|2001-02||Final Conference||Carolina vs. Toronto||2.67|
The Stars have done a good job at the start of the series keeping the Flames out of the slot, and instead kept shots to the perimeter. When Oettinger did spit up rebounds, Stars defensemen were there to clean up the mess. Dallas also blocked 20 shots in Game 2.
“Everyone bought in, blocking shots,” Faksa said. “Everyone was thinking defense-first. In playoffs, every game is usually by one goal, so every little thing can decide a game. ”
Seguin: “It’s how we like to play. I do not know what you fully expect, but you have a game plan going in and you try to execute. Going into Calgary, getting that one win, it’s a good start for us. ”
Find more Stars coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.