Finalllllllllly hockey has returned to the great city of Philadelphia. The Flyers have returned home from a decent road trip that included stops at the triangle of death in San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. Moreover, the orange and black played a heck of a game against the Western Conference Champions in the Nashville Predators. All in all hockey is back and the orange and black were 2-2 entering the home opener.
The Flyers entered the home opener against the Washington Capitals with great odds to win the game. Moreover, the orange and black entered Saturday’s contest 22-19-8 all-time in home openers, and they were 112-84-19 against the Capitals. While facing the Capitals at home, the Flyers were 68-36-6 all-time. Whatever the odds are the orange crush was back in full force, and the great fans of Philly were there to cheer them on.
Flyers Captain Claude Giroux is the engine that runs the Flyers. While discussing the great fans of Philly with me Giroux stated, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. The team is getting better. But, you know what we’re improving as a team everyday.” The home crowd must have heard Giroux. The orange and black were flat-out dominant, as they fed off the home crowd’s energy to a 8-2 route. Brian Elliott shockingly was the confirmed starter, and he looked for redemption. Elliott was masterful in this one, as he put forth a 21 save effort out playing Caps netminder Philipp Grubauer.
The Flyers came out of the gate hungry and determined to knock off a divisional foe. They found themselves out shooting the Capitals 4-2 early in the period. Just 7:18 into the game, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier had a mini 2-on-1. Voracek made a nice pass to Couturier and he found the twine behind Grubauer for an early 1-0 lead.
Midway through the first period the Flyers were clicking on all cylinders. However, they got a little sloppy with the puck at 10:35. The Capitals were able to go on a 2-on-1 break with Evgeny Kunetsov and Jakub Vrana. Kuznetsov threaded a nice pass over to Vrana, and he deposited the puck past a sprawling Elliott tying the game at 1.
The young Flyers were called for the first penalty of the night. Brandon Manning took a slashing penalty at 10:01. On the ensuing power play, the Capitals had good puck movement, and registered three shots on net. Elliott made all three saves keeping the score tied at 1.
Things went from good to unknown for the Flyers after allowing taking their first penalty. However, John Carlson took a slashing penalty with 3:54 remaining in the first. On the ensuing power play, the Flyers registered two shots on net. Grubauer made both saves keeping the score tied at 1.
Late in the first period, the Flyers were given a bench minor for too many men on the ice. The speedy Scott Laughton tried a nice puck retrieval in the Washington zone. Grubauer tried sprawling after the puck, but Laughton stole it from him. Laughton made no mistake and deposited the puck into the empty net for a shorthanded goal, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
The first period came to a close with the Flyers dominating the majority of play throughout the first period. They found themselves leading the Capitals 2-1 at the end of the period. Despite being outplayed through the majority of the first period, the Capitals made a late push in the shot total. However, the Flyers did wind up out-shooting the Capitals 13-9 for the period, but lost faceoff margin was evenly split at 67%-33%.
The Flyers entered the second period determined to take command of the game. However, just 2:42 into the period Carlson took another slashing penalty. Just 33 seconds later Wayne Simmonds lifted a nice wrist shot over Grubauer’s shoulder for a 3-1 Flyers lead.
Towards the middle of the second period, the Flyers were trying to continue their momentum against the Capitals. Claude Giroux tapped the puck into the twine, off a nice feed from Sean Couturier past Grubauer for a 4-1 Flyers lead.
With the Flyers on a high, and the building rocking from the fans. The orange and black were caught day dreaming just 13 seconds after Giroux’s goal. Nicklas Backstrom happened to find himself on a mini breakaway. He placed the puck through Elliott’s five hole, and cut the Flyers deficit to 4-2.
The Flyers continued their dominance late in the second period. With 2:55 remaining in the period, Valtteri Filppula scored over the left shoulder of Grubauer, off a nice feed from Voracek. Simmonds also got a secondary assist on the goal for a Flyers 5-2 lead.
These young legs in the Flyers outplayed the Capitals in the second period. The Flyers outshot the Caps 11-7, but they lost the faceoff margin 55%-45%.
About midway in the third period, with the Flyers were clicking on all cylinders. Laughton scored his 2nd of the night with a nice wrist shot past Grubauer for a Flyers 6-2 lead. After the game Simmonds had this to say about Laughton, “He’s a lot more confident now. I think he knows his role and what’s expected of him. He’s got a ton of all offensive talent. If you put him in a position to succeed he will succeed.”
The Flyers continued to pour on the assault on the Caps. Just 1:17 after Laughton scored, Couturier wanted to join the party. He made a nice move around the net, and deposited the puck past Grubauer’s left pad for a 7-2 comfortable lead.
Towards the end of the third period, the Flyers continued their momentum against the Caps. Giroux blasted a puck off a nice feed from Manning past Grubauer for an 8-2 route. The orange and black not only man handled the Caps, but they out shot the Caps for the game 37-23.
Simmonds- “I think we got a lot of depth. I think we’re in a good position. They have a really good team, we just got the better of them tonight.”
In regards to his line with Jordan Weal and Filppula, “We played the last 15 games together last year, so were comfortable. The first couple of games there are tweeks here and there, but we know each other. It’s up to us to fulfill the tone from here on out.”
Voracek- “We were pretty happy with how we played all 4 games. It’s very important for us to get this first win at home, recover and get ready for Tuesday.”
In terms of shooting the puck Voracek stated, “Sorry for you guys everybody saying shoot, shoot. You know it’s such a hard time to put the puck on net. Everyone’s blocking shots. There’s not many open lanes. You have to create that space by skating. We kept pushing in the third. Laughton’s second goal was huge. We’re skating well.”
Voracek elaborated on skating, “Training camp was hard, but it was a good push. Obviously, there’s gonna be times where we hit the wall. But, get back at it. We’re skating well cause we’re in good shape.”
Head Coach Dave Hakstol– “Building chemistry is real important for our hockey team. I think everyone did their part tonight. Our veterans are playing hard and well. We’ve played 5 games and the common thread is we have worked hard in all 5 games. Everyone’s part of it, everyone is chipping in. We haven’t gotten the results in all 5, but we play hard as a team. I thought tonight we were able to get in and forecheck. But, we got in on a lot of pucks tonight to create puck possession to get some of our cycle game going.”
Hakstol on the Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere pairing, “They have been a very good pair. Since they have been together Hagger has very quietly, a very sound player. He does positive things with the puck. As a defenseman your main role is to defend, and move the puck out of the zone efficiently. Hagger does a good job with that. Ghost is competing extremely hard without the puck. There playing hard together.”
Of course the Flyers came out rocking in their home opener. They put together a complete team effort to beat the red-hot Capitals on a back-end of a back to back. This proves yet again that there is no quit in this team. Hopefully they bring some of the same energy for Tuesdays contest against a young Carolina Hurricanes team at 7 pm.
AP Photo/Chris Szagola