Finally, the Flyers have hit the ice once again in South Philadelphia. Hockey is alive and well throughout the region, as the proud orange-clad fans flooded the Wells Fargo Center for the home opener against their rivals in the New Jersey Devils.
The Flyers came into the Devils on a high after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 last Friday in Prague. They looked to continue their winning ways against a Devils team that was 0-1-1 coming into this tilt, “We’re a little more comfortable now, and we just gotta build on that,” Sean Couturier said.
The Flyers had their legs early in this one, as it appeared Carter Hart would have a fairly easy night in net. The orange and black came out of the gate well, against a Devils team that is looking to make a statement this season after an offseason filled with heavy additions. Hart was great as he backstopped 24 saves in the 4-0 victory, and his first NHL Shutout.
Carter Hart skates out of the tunnel like a bolt of lightning. Only one shooter scored on him during 1-on 1 drills, and that was Claude Giroux over the right shoulder of Hart. Was this a sign of things to come? It just may have been.
Without further delay, here are my three takeaways from a home opener for the ages.
The Wayne Simmonds Effect
The Flyers are hoping to become a consistent hockey team this season. Getting off to a good start early in the season was a must for this young bunch. A beloved athlete in Wayne Simmonds received a standing ovation, for good reason. Simmonds was the definition of a Flyer, and he is one of the classiest athletes’ I’ve had the privilege of covering.
“The fans of Philly love a battler, a guy that works through and through,” Simmonds said before the game, “I was Professional off the ice too, and that’s one reason why I got adopted by the fans here. I have not met baby Giroux yet, but we have texted. My daughter was born on the same day.”
Hart stood tall to Simmonds, and he got a well-deserved standing ovation after making a few big saves in succession, with Simmonds on the ice during the first period of play. Simmonds was very good friends with Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux. However, it looks like the leadership of Voracek and Giroux kept the Flyers heads focused at the task at hand, and not on the fact that Simmonds returned to Philadelphia for the first time since he was traded last season.
The young phenom, or prized possession of that in Hart was flat-out dialed in from puck drop. At one point in the first period, he made a few big saves in succession, and he received a well-deserved standing ovation for his efforts from the proud orange-clad fans en-route to his first career shutout. Hart was fantastic throughout, making 25 saves against the Devils in front of a sell-out crowd.
“I mean, I’m just trying to play,’ Hart said following the game, “I take things one play at a time and just compete and not try to overthink things. Honestly, just try and play. Play the game. I mean I feel comfortable at this level. I think after the first couple of games, or even after that first game against Detroit, my nerves were just crazy for that game and after that just kind of realized, hey, it’s another game. The boards are the same, the ice is the same, just got to go out and play. That’s the approach that I have to have.”
Some people worried before the season started that Hart would succumb to a sophomore slump. Well, Flyers fans that is not the case, as he has only allowed 3 goals in 2 starts, for a GAA of 1.50.
Giroux had to be a leader today on-and-off the ice to keep the Flyers heads in the game, and not on the fact that Simmonds returned to Philadelphia. Of course, Giroux was best friends with Simmonds, however there was still 2 points at stake tonight, “Well he makes those big saves to kind of give us momentum,” Giroux said of Hart, “He’s a pretty quiet guy, kind of does his own thing and that’s good for us. I mean he does it every day in practice, games, he’s a pretty mature kid for his age and he’s playing some good hockey for us, he’s given us a chance to win every night.”
Notes: Travis Konecny Blazing Start
Konecny now has 3 goals, and 2 assists in two games played. He is now on pace to tally 124 goals this season,“You always worry when you have breaks like that,” Konecny said following the game, “You worry about the Christmas break let alone this 7 day one. I think the coaching staff has done a good job at getting us back and prepared yesterday. We’re all pretty focused now as far as what we have to get done on the ice so I think everyone did the right things yesterday and day before.”
Provorov looked so much more confident tonight, than he did against the Chicago Blackhawks. He tallied his first goal from the point on a power play in the second period, and the team played well defensively for his efforts.
1st Period- None
PHI- Provorov PPG ( 1) 9:52- assists Niskanen, Konecny
PHI- Hayes PPG (1) 18:29 assists Giroux
PHI- Couturier (1) 18:19- assists Lindblom, Provorov
PHI- Konecny (3) 6:26- Unassisted
Let’s hope the Flyers can make it three in a row, as they face the Vancouver Canucks at 10pm on Saturday night, on the first leg of the Western Canadian trip.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports