Finally, hockey is back home in South Philadelphia. The proud orange clad fans can’t wait to see their beloved Flyers take the ice in their home opener, in a rivalry game against the New Jersey Devils. Both teams split their season series last year, but the good thing is the Flyers are 28-17-6 all-time in home openers. Hopefully, the orange and black can take advantage of this golden opportunity, with the Devils (0-1-1) struggling early in the season.
The Flyers are hoping to become a consistent hockey team this season. Getting off to a good start early in the season is a must for this young bunch. A beloved athlete in Wayne Simmonds will receive a standing ovation, for good reason. Simmonds was the definition of a Flyer, and he is one of the classiest athlete’s I’ve had the privilege of covering. Without further delay, here’s a home opener preview against the rival New Jersey Devils.
Rolling four lines against the Devils is a major key to keeping them on their heals. The Flyers have to become less predictable, with only having two lines scoring on a nightly basis last season. If all four lines work cohesively as units, then there is no doubt they can beat Metropolitan Divisional foe.
1.) Giroux, Hayes, Voracek
2.) Lindblom, Couturier, Konecny
3.) JVR, Laughton, Twarynski
4.) Bunnaman, Raffl, Pitlick
PP1: JVR, Giroux, Voracek, Hayes, Ghost
PP2: Lindblom, Couts, Konecny, Niskanen, Provorov
All four lines seem pretty well balanced at least on paper. The top-6 really got things rolling against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, and it’s a must once again for the Flyers to have success in the home opener. Use the sixth man to their advantage.
Konecny was electric against the Blackhawks. He had a great camp after his contract situation got resolved, and the Flyers will need him to beat their Jersey rivals. The Lindblom, Couturier, Konecny line was dominant against the Blackhawks from puck drop. This trio should work well together once again, and they should be able to razzle and dazzle with success in this tilt.
1.) Provorov, Braun
2.) Ghost, Hagg
3.) Sanheim, Niskanen
Provorov really struggled against the Blackhawks. Yes, it’s just one game, however Provorov will have to be better against the Devils. Ghost was solid in the season opener, as he is trying to rebound from a down season last year. Niskanen was really good on opening night against the Blackhawks. He broke up a 2-on-1 in the middle of second period of that game. Let’s hope Niskanen continues to rock and roll against the Devils as he tries to become more trusting for Vigneault to use in critical situations.
What more can be said of this young man? He does it all on and off the ice. Hart had a strong season opener, as he finished with the game with a 4-3 victory, and a .900 Save Percentage, in his first season opener with the orange and black.
“Whatever I can do to help the team night in and night out,” Hart stated to me in an interview during Training Camp, “I just try to play my game, and keep it simple.”
Hart has an opportunity to put the Flyers over the top in this one. He will have to be effective from the start, as the Devils will try to come out with thunder after their slow start to the season in the early going.
The Sixth Man
The Flyers got rocked in last years home opener to the San Jose Sharks 8-2. Hopefully, this new look young Flyers team can take advantage of the sixth man. The proud orange clad fans support their team night in and night out, and they come from all over the country, and world for that matter, to support their team. Simmonds will receive a standing ovation for his time as a Flyer, but after that he’s a New Jersey Devil. He plays for the rivals. These smart hockey fans know that, so let’s give the crowd something to cheer about.
Vigneault will have this team conditioned, and ready for the home opener. It’s up to the players to provide the electricity, and cheers throughout the Wells Fargo Center on this night.
The Flyers have to remain focused on the task at hand. They cannot get ahead of themselves for a Saturday night matchup on the road against the Vancouver Canucks or they will be doomed for failure against their divisional foe. Overall, the main key to beating this Devils team relies heavily with playing sound Defense, limiting turnovers, and solid Goaltending. The Devils essentially have a young, offensively gifted team, so the Flyers can ill afford to give the Devils second chances with turnovers. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Jamey Baskow, 34, Flyers Guru, Sports Enthuiast
Follow me on Twitter@JameyBaskow