“1, 2, 3, 4” isn’t just a part of “Knock Knock” by Mac Miller heard in Philadelphia after a Flyers victory. It resembles the Philadelphia Flyers offense exactly in their home opener at the Wells Fargo Center against the visiting New Jersey Devils. The Flyers cracked Cory Schneider’s code in the second period and continued an offensive onslaught. Four goals by four different Philadelphia players, including two on the powerplay. That is how you bring hockey back to Philadelphia in the 2019-2020 season.
In my preview to this game, I mentioned that Cory Schneider and Taylor Hall were both on the New Jersey Devils injury report. Both of them started this game, putting the best Devils team on the ice. What is apparent is that the Philadelphia Flyers that showed up in Prague to take on and defeat the Chicago Blackhawks didn’t lose their legs on the flight home. In front of their home crowd, the Flyers looked dominant. More importantly, Carter Hart looked like the starting goalie Philadelphia has needed since they let Sergei Bobrovsky go.
In the first period, the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils engaged in a defensive struggle. If you like an intense goalie battle, then this was a good period of hockey. Cory Schneider made big saves, especially on a cross from Oskar Lindblom to Matt Niskanen on the first powerplay of the night. The first period was better played by the Devils, who had ten shots on goal versus the Flyers six. However, none of the teams could convert a shot into a goal and the first period ended in a scoreless tie.
It wasn’t until the second period of play that the Philadelphia Flyers would find a way to get on the scoreboard. The New Jersey Devils’ Nikita Gusev would serve a two-minute minor for slashing on Oskar Lindblom, which put the Flyers on the powerplay. I had a good feeling that Philadelphia would convert on the powerplay tonight, and that happened off the stick of Ivan Provorov. Travis Konecny controlled the puck from behind the net and into the slot, dropping off a short pass to Matt Niskanen. Niskanen had a beautiful feed from wing to wing on the blue line to Provorov, who unloaded a slapshot on the net that beat Cory Schneider.
Before the end of the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers put themselves into some shorthanded danger, forcing the penalty kill to bail them out. In conjunction with the players on the penalty kill, Carter Hart came up huge with a stop on Taylor Hall. Hall had an open look on the right side of the net against Hart, but it was just not his night. When you talk about a true goaltender in the NHL, I implore you to find a goaltender with a more promising future than Hart. He was on fire all night long.
The New Jersey Devils were still in the game at the beginning of the third period and were thirsty to score on Carter Hart. Only twenty seconds into the period, Sami Vatanen served a two-minute minor for interference on Claude Giroux. Murphy’s Law was in full effect within the next thirty seconds of this period as the Philadelphia Flyers would then score two goals in twenty-four seconds. The first was a powerplay goal by Kevin Hayes immediately off of a faceoff win by Giroux. The celebration wasn’t planned to work out as well as it did.
Twenty-four seconds later, Ivan Provorov skated down the wing and put a wrist shot on net. The rebound off of Cory Schneider centered in front of the crease for Oskar Lindblom, but he couldn’t get a handle on the puck for the second effort. Sean Couturier was there to jab at the puck and collect his first goal of the season on the third effort. The tenacity and hustle of the Philadelphia Flyers offense created these opportunities to run away with the win. Don’t hold out for too long however, the New Jersey Devils had one more to “eat up.”
Rounding out the win for the Philadelphia Flyers was a final goal by Travis Konecny. On this play, Konecny was in the right place at the right time as Kyle Palmieri loses traction on his skates and falls to the ice. The puck is just out of reach of Cory Schneider and he is in point-blank range with Konecny. A quick move is made and the puck finds the back of the net on a swift wrist shot, giving the Flyers a 4-0 lead against the New Jersey Devils. The Devils would attempt a late barrage of shots in an attempt to takeaway Carter Hart’s shutout, but Philadelphia would keep that intact.
Sean Couturier (3rd Star)
There isn’t enough to say about Sean Couturier in a Philadelphia Flyers uniform aside that “you love to see it.” Quite frankly, he is one of the best centers in the league when it comes to a complete game of hockey. Defensively, he continues to disrupt opposing offenses and turns takeaways into scoring chances. Against the New Jersey Devils, his role was playing in the tough, gritty areas in front of the crease. Couturier profited off of his hustle, scoring on a third effort and extending the Flyers lead to 3-0.
Ivan Provorov (2nd Star)
I said this same sort of thing about Travis Konecny after the Philadelphia Flyers win against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, but it applies to Ivan Provorov the same. It’s nice to know that we’re going to have six more years of Provorov in Orange and Black. His pairing with Matt Niskanen worked wonders tonight on the powerplay, adding a goal on the scoreboard. That wasn’t the only way that Provorov contributed on offense. He also added an assist to his stat line on the Sean Couturier goal when his wrist shot rebounded off of Cory Schneider and took a good bounce off of Oskar Lindblom’s stick.
Carter Hart (1st Star)
Give “the Hitman” a standing ovation. Carter “the Hitman” Hart stopped all twenty-five shots he faced this game to record his first-ever NHL shutout. He was the problem that couldn’t be solved for the New Jersey Devils, more specifically Taylor Hall. Hart was quick to acknowledge the milestone, but credited his teammates as the reason for the win:
“Anytime you have a milestone it is definitely pretty cool, but I think it is huge that we came out so hard in our home opener. The fans were really getting into it.”Ryan Boyd; Philly Sports Network
Keep that energy, Carter Hart. Go ahead and strike that pose for your milestone photo.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are away against the Vancouver Canucks. This game takes place on Saturday, October 12th at 10:00 pm live from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports