Finally the day has come that all Philadelphia Flyers fans have been waiting for. For some it may feel like Christmas morning or Chanukha. For others it’s a great fresh day full of excitement. Finallllllllllly, the sweet sounds and smells of the ice is back for another great season of Flyers hockey.
The Flyers are looking to rebound from missing the playoffs last season with a strong start from their core group of players, that include Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier. Moreover, the orange and black added goaltender Brian Elliott to the fold in the off-season. They are hoping this solidifies an area of weakness from the prior season. The Flyers have also infused the core with the youth that has given the organization a breath of fresh air. With the likes of Taylor Leier, Robert Hagg, and the cornerstone of the franchise in Nolan Patrick, they hoped to start off on the right foot against a top Western Foe in the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center.
Voracek has been very vocal in training camp, and he stated to me a few weeks ago, “I mean 6 or 7 guys have been around for so many years. We get along pretty well. The guys that came along fit well. Have fun with it. Every new face in the locker room is a breath of fresh air. New faces, new personalities it’s a business.” His words must have been echoed in the Flyers locker room as the orange and black throttled the Sharks 5-3. New goaltender Elliott was good from start to finish, as he finished with 32 strong saves, proving to the fans of Philadelphia there headed in a positive direction.
With the Flyers dominating the majority of play through the first period, Claude Giroux received a gift from Jakub Voracek. Giroux made no mistake and placed the puck past Sharks goaltender Martin Jones for a 1-0 Flyers lead. The goal left 11:32 remaining in the first.
This young Flyers team dominated the Sharks through the first half of the second period. Kevin Labanc took an interference penalty at 9:44. With 8:44 remaining in the period, Travis Konecny entered the Sharks zone on a rush with Jordan Weal. Weal threaded a quick shot off a nice pass from Konecny, past Jones for a 2-0 Flyers lead.
The Flyers were struggling to maintain possession late in the first period, and the Sharks made sure to take full advantage. Kevin Labanc took a shot from the left of Elliott, with Elliott making the nice right pad save. Labanc batted the rebound out of the air past Elliott cutting the Flyers to 2-1.
Things went from good to unknown for the Flyers after allowing that late goal. Brandon Manning took a holding penalty with 1:51 remaining in the first. Labanc tracked down the puck off a turnover in the Flyers zone. He made no mistake and wristed a shot high past Elliott for his second goal of the night, tying the game at 2 with 18.9 seconds remaining.
The first period came to a close with the Sharks dominating the majority of play, throughout the second half of the first period. They found themselves tied at 2, after trailing early in the game 2-0. Despite being outplayed through the majority of the first period, the Sharks made a late push in the shot total. The Sharks outshot the Flyers 11-8 for the period, but lost the faceoff margin 60%-40%.
Young and restless Flyers entered the second period determined to take command of the game. However, just 51 seconds into the period, Robert Hagg took a holding penalty. On the ensuing power play, the Sharks had nice puck movement which lead to three shots on net. Elliott made all three saves keeping the game tied at 2.
At 7:48 in the second period, Andrew Macdonald was called for a tripping penalty. The Sharks registered 2 shots on goal, but Elliott made both saves keeping the score tied at 2. This left the Sharks 1-for-3 on the power play for the night.
With the Sharks dominating the Flyers in the second period, Kevin Labanc took a slashing penalty at 2:32. Voracek threaded a pass cross ice to Shayne Gostisbehere. Ghost blasted the puck and Wayne Simmonds deflected the puck past Jones for a Flyers 3-2 lead. This made the Flyers 2-for-2 on the power play for the night.
Late in the period the Sharks continued their dominate second period. Radko Gudas was called for an interference penalty with 1:10 remaining. However, the Sharks could not cash in on the power play, but did manage two shots on net. Elliott made both saves keeping the score 3-2 Flyers.
The Flyers were man handled by the Sharks with their dominate play in the second period, but they found themselves leading 3-2. Fortunately, the Flyers fired 6 shots on net for the period. The Sharks lost the faceoff margin 57%-43%, while firing 13 shots on net for the period.
Early in the third period, Travis Konecny was called for a hooking penalty. On the ensuing power play, Logan Couture found the puck behind his own net against the boards. He threw the puck in front of goaltender Elliott. However, the puck bounced off Andrew Macdonalds skate past Elliott, thus tying the game at three. This left the Sharks 2-for-5 on the power play for the night.
About midway in the third period, the Flyers were clicking on all cylinders. Labanc was called for a tripping penalty again. On the ensuing power play, Voracek blasted the puck from the point. Simmonds managed to deflect the puck again, past Jones for his second power play goal of the night. This gave the orange and black a 4-3 lead.
With 5:20 remaining in the third period, Melker Karlsson was called for a interference penalty. The Flyers registered three shots on goal, but Jones made all three saves keeping the score 4-3 Flyers. This left the Flyers 3-for-4 on the power play for the night.
Late in the third period, Joe Pavelski was called for hi-sticking on Dale Weise. Weise was clipped by the stick in his lip, giving the Flyers a power play gift. However, Radko Gudas was called for boarding just 1:14 into the power play. This off-set the Flyers power play. The Sharks pulled Jones in favor of an extra attacker on the ensuing face-off in the Flyers zone. With 35 seconds remaining Simmonds skated into the Sharks zone. He made no mistake as he registered a hat trick on the open net, sealing a Flyers 5-3 victory. The Flyers however did get outshot 35-31 for the game.
The Flyers got off to the start they wanted this season with a tough opening night road win. It was a gutsy effort, and the veteran leadership lead the way in this one. Simmonds had a great hat trick, and Elliott was really strong in net. If this is a sign of things to come, then the future is bright for the fly guys. Tune into tomorrows game, as the Flyers play the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center in their home opener. Puck drops at 10. Remember Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Avelar