Flyers

What if Flyers had beaten Stars back in October? A few putts could have changed a lot

Flyers

If only the Flyers had made a few putts.

Maybe the Stars would be teeing off right now instead of playing in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

We'll never know but what we do know is that Jamie Benn felt "the night things started to change" for Dallas in its 2019-20 season was when the Stars beat the Flyers, 4-1, at the Wells Fargo Center back on Oct. 19. Benn recently recalled that victory to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman in a 31 Thoughts column, while Mark Zimmaro of the South Philly Review wrote about it, as well, right here.

In October 2019, Dallas came to Philadelphia sporting a 1-7-1 record. Just a week before the calendar turns to this October, the Stars are in Edmonton, Alberta, squaring off against the Lightning and vying for their first Stanley Cup championship since 1999.

Dallas trails the series, 2-1, after losing to Tampa Bay, 5-2, Wednesday night in Game 3. The series continues Friday night with Game 4 on NBC.

How influential was the Oct. 19 night in Philly for Benn and company? Season-changing, season-saving kind of night?

Including the win over the Flyers, the Stars went 14-1-1 through their next 16 games and finished the shortened regular season as a top-four club in the Western Conference.

So, as Benn mentioned and remembered about 11 months afterward, that Oct. 19 win was huge in Dallas' flipping the switch and salvaging its season before the hole was too deep. The Stars were also playing the second game of a back-to-back road set, losing to the Penguins the night before.

 

What if the Flyers win that game? Do the Stars still find the confidence to recover from what would have been a sixth straight loss and the ninth defeat in their opening 10 games?

There's still a good chance Dallas would have found solutions at some point to make the playoffs but the Oct. 19 matchup is even crazier to look back on considering how the game unfolded and then the Stars' ensuing stretch of wins. The Flyers very well could have won that game as it turned out to be a deceiving 4-1 margin. The Flyers actually outshot Dallas 39-16 and held the Stars to five shots over the final two periods. Sean Couturier scored 43 seconds into the game and the Flyers had a chance to jump on a wobbling Dallas but could not convert.

“It’s like a golfer that’s in regulation but can’t putt,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said following the loss.

“The process is good. If you look at our overall game tonight, take a look at the scoring chances for and against, we had a pretty dominating performance. Right now, we’re having a tough time finishing."

The Flyers were in the midst of a four-game skid despite outshooting the opposition 91-38 over the third and fourth defeats of the losing streak.

Meanwhile, the 16 shots for the Stars ended up matching their fewest in a game all season. The game ended up being more than just an anecdote during the first month of a deep, unconventional Stanley Cup run for Dallas.

Ironically, the Blues also ignited their Stanley Cup championship run last season with a win in Philadelphia.

This season, the Flyers were the best home team in hockey with a 25-6-4 record. The Stars gave them their first home loss. They absolutely took delight in seeing a golfer struggling to putt.