How the Flyers were able to steamroll the Penguins in season opener


The Philadelphia Flyers (1-0-0) defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins (0-1-0) to start 2020-2021. We analyze the victory, in the crease.

New season, same ol’ Tristan Jarry. At least, that’s how last night’s game turned out. Once again, Jarry struggled against a team coached by Alain Vigneault. For the in-state rivalry, the 2019-2020 Jack Adams Award finalist kryptonite for the Western Pennsylvania hockey club. Let’s dissect the Philadelphia Flyers’ 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Philly Joel

Vigneault nailed it when he found the recipe for Joel Farabee. On the second powerplay unit or the second forward line, Farabee is buzzing with his teammates. His ability to create space away from the puck, or by passing, attributed to his four points. He created scoring plays both on the powerplay and during even-strength hockey.

Farabee led Bryan Rust into the left faceoff circle, dropping a pass to Erik Gustafsson alone up top. They created the first powerplay goal, finishing with a deflection by James van Riemsdyk.

On the second one, Farabee played out a similar strategy, goading in Mark Jankowski enough. Once he cleared a passing lane to Gustafsson, another shot was sent toward Jarry, deflecting off Nolan Patrick to score.

Now, Farabee created space in a different way on these two goals. First, his own, which Kevin Hayes tallied the assist. At first, Michael Matheson gets the puck away from Hayes, but Sam Lafferty couldn’t find a handle, so Hayes recovered. During all this, Teddy Blueger is puck watching at the blue line. Three Penguins players are close to Hayes, so he finds Farabee, converting a high percentage shot at the crease.

His last point of the game took a fortunate bounce. Firstly, Farabee is very in sync with his linemates, comfortably dropping another pass to Claude Giroux in the neutral zone to start a rush. Inbounding to the offensive zone, Farabee wisely stays at the blue line with all the room in the world. He sees Hayes closing in on the opposite wing, putting a low shot on goal to pop from Jarry’s blocker. The technique works to perfection as Hayes slams the easy rebound goal.

Lindblom and Raffl

Talk about using your head. That is how Oskar Lindblom scored his first goal of 2020-2021. Sean Couturier began the rush down the center of the ice, placing a low shot on Jarry. Travis Konecny lifted the rebound towards the net, skipping off of a helmet to score.

Konecny wanted Lindblom to have the credit:

“I’d rather him get one tonight. It’s well-deserved.”

Travis Konecny; 1/13/2021

Lindblom had a solid night, tallying a team-high in blocked shots. One of those was during a penalty-kill. His one goal, plus-one rating evening would have been better if fans were in attendance to provide an ovation.

Extra efforts and hustle accounted for half of the Flyers scoring. Michael Raffl scored the game-winning goal because of his cleanup effort. After losing the faceoff, Raffl checked Matheson’s stick, allowing Laughton to break down the left-wing. It could have been a goal scored by Nicolas Aube-Kubel, but Matheson recovered, making a defensive play. Laughton, who left John Marino behind, had the presence of mind to find Raffl trailing for a high percentage shot at the crease.

Flyers defense catches fire

Gustafsson tallied two assists, but was he the best defenseman on the ice? He played his role, a powerplay specialist, in the first period. Points don’t tell the story for defensive contributions, however. His advanced metrics will receive a boost because of his two assists on the powerplay. He finished with an even plus-minus rating after turning the puck over, which led to Brando Tanev’s goal.

Defensively, Robert Hagg performed at a high rate. In fifteen minutes of ice time, Hagg finished with a plus-two rating. Not too shabby from him on the third pair. He would have been a plus-three on the night, but Carter Hart turned the puck over to Sidney Crosby for a goal.

Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre