The Flyers are off to their best start since 2011. On Tuesday, the Flyers practiced at The Skatezone, preparing for the Wednesday Night contest with the Metropolitan Division-leading, Washington Capitals. I was fortunate to attend the practice and share some observations.
First of all, Head Coach Alain Vigneault is excited about the challenge. “We got quite a task ahead of us. Not only are they playing really well, but they’re a team that knows how to win. I’m looking forward to this game, it’s gonna be a good matchup for us. We’re playing some good hockey lately. So we’ll be tested and I am interested to see here going to respond.”
Carter Hart gets the Start
Hart looked really good in what action I saw of him. His positioning in the crease was sound and gave little to no room to shoot. Personally I didn’t see him let in a shot, although he was down the other end of the ice. What I did see was a diving save to rob either Joel Farabee or James Van Riemsdyk of an easy cross-ice tap in. It was an amazing save.
When asked Alain Vigneault said that Hart will get the start versus the Capitals.
Travis Konecny can Snipe
It should come as no surprise that the team leading scorer can put the puck in the net. However, T.K. can flat out shoot. Seeing him live in a practice, he just didn’t seem to miss, or even get stopped. T.K’s quick shot was zipping past Elliot in every drill. He seems able to put the puck wherever he wants, which makes his reaction to his errant shots during a game, understandable.
Konecny is playing with confidence as are his linemates. When asked T.K. stated that the key to the line’s success was their communication and defensive first mentality. “I think the main thing is, before each game we talk to each other and preach on how important the defensive zone is a part of our game. A lot of nights we’re playing against the other top lines, and our main goal is to shut them down and then create offense off of their mistakes. I think that is why we are getting so many opportunities.”
Power Play Switch
It appears that Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere have changed power play spots. Provorov will be on the top power-play unit. “Ghost” will be along Matt Niskanen on the second unit. “Ghost” had briefly played with the first unit over the weekend. When asked about the switch, Vigneault said the following:
“The one thing you don’t want to do with your power play is to become predictable. So, you always try to make certain adjustments to keep the other teams, not guessing but make their preparation a little tougher. So that’s why you don’t want to become too predictable on the power-play, you want to try a couple of different things, couple different looks.”
Michael Raffl looks really good. There is a different vibe about him this year. Playing with Tyler Pitlick and Andy Andreoff, the Flyers may have found their fourth line combination that can provide quality minutes. Raffl has been used in multiple ways in his career. I think it is safe to say he has settled into his role and is playing some of his best hockey.
Tonight the Flyers host the high powered Capitals. Here is to hoping that the Flyers continue to play good hockey and take two points away from the Division Leaders.
Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports