The NHL is set up with a six game slate on Friday night. It will be a bit of a quieter night before a busy Saturday of hockey. One of the games up for Friday though, will be between the Dallas Stars and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Stars still have not been able to find a way to get it going and will try again with a win on the road against Pittsburgh. This game will start at around 7:00 PM Eastern time on ESPN+.
Dallas has been one of the surprising starts to the NHL season as they have fallen to 1-6-1, which has them in sixth place of the Central Division. The Stars have now lost four games in a row. Dallas was pegged as an early season favorite to make it to the Stanley Cup, but they will need to get on a roll if they want to stop this fall. The Stars are a talented team and I think that they will get it going eventually in the early stages of this season.
The Penguins have been off to a fast start as they are sitting in second place of the Metropolitan Division with a 5-2 record. Pittsburgh has won their last four games after a 1-2 start. The Penguins have been hit with some injuries to start out this season, but they have still used their depth to win. Pittsburgh will look to extend their winning streak with another victory over the struggling Stars.
These two teams are in opposite parts of the standings, but since it is still early on in the season, I do not think this is a good representation of how these two teams are. Dallas has the skill to compete with most teams in the NHL, they just need to get their chemistry going. I think that the Stars could use this as a big momentum builder if they win on Friday night.
The Stars and the Penguins met up twice last season. The first game was hosted by Pittsburgh, where the Penguins dominated. Sidney Crosby had a three point night, while Casey DeSmith stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced. Pittsburgh finished out the first game with a 5-1 win. The second game was a much closer matchup. Jared McCann scored his second goal of the game in the third period to give the Penguins a 3-2 win. Matt Murray stopped 29 of 30 shots in the win.
The Stars have dropped four matchups in a row against the Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dallas’s only win on the season has come against the Capitals on the road. Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, and Jamie Benn have combined for 10 points through eight games so far after finishing top three in points last season.
Pittsburgh has been hot as of late, winning four games in a row against the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, and the Colorado Avalanche. The Penguins scored seven goals on the Wild and the Jets in those wins. Sidney Crosby leads the team in points with four goals and eight assists. Jake Guentzel has the team lead in goals with five on the season. Twenty different players have points on this team through seven games, which shows their depth.
Dallas has not been able to get their power play going at all this season. The Stars have been shut down on 23 of their 24 power play chances, for a disappointing 4.2 percent. Dallas’s penalty kill has been around the league average, stopping 80.7 percent of the power plays against them. The Stars have stopped 25 of the 31 power plays against them this season.
The Penguins have been doing much better on special teams throughout this season. Pittsburgh has 6 goals on 26 power play opportunities, which gives them a 23.1 power play percentage. The Penguins have killed off 14 of 17 power plays against them, which has earned Pittsburgh a kill percentage of 82.4 percent.
The Stars have struggled on the power play this season and this will be a tough game to turn that around as the Penguins are not a heavily penalized team. Dallas will need to limit the amount of power play chances they give to Pittsburgh since the Penguins power play is dangerous. If the Stars can neutralize Pittsburgh’s power play or add a couple of man advantage goals themselves, it would help them pull off the upset.
I believe that Ben Bishop will be the starting goalie for the Stars on Friday night. Bishop has started the season out 1-4-1. He has a save percentage of .899 and a GAA of 2.84. Bishop is coming off a Vezina Trophy nomination last season as he had a .934 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA. Dallas needs Bishop to return to that form to help them get out of this slide.
Matt Murray is expected to get the nod in the crease for this game. Murray has started out the season with a 4-2 record in his six starts. In those starts, he has put up a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.66. Last season, Murray finished with a record of 29-14-6 with a save percentage of .919 and a 2.69 GAA.
These two goalies are strong starters, but Murray has been off to the better start this season. Bishop put up phenomenal numbers last season, but has struggled like the rest of the team to start out this season. If Bishop can have a really good start on Friday night though, I think that Dallas will be able to pull off the upset.
I believe that the Stars have a good chance to end the Penguins winning streak with an upset on Friday night. I think that Dallas will eventually get things going and I believe that they will elevate their play for this matchup. If the Stars can keep up on special teams and solve Murray early, they could ride it to a victory.
BetOnline has Pittsburgh listed as a -135 against the money line. This implies that the Penguins will win this game around 57.5 percent of the time. With how Dallas has started this season, these odds make sense, but I think the Stars have a better chance then these odds imply. There is a lot of value in Dallas ending their losing streak, making them my pick of the night.