Last night, the Flyers opened up their season at home against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks, who came into this game with a loss thanks to the Oilers on Wednesday night, looked flat to start the game. The Flyers dominated control and the tempo for the entire first period, earning themselves a 1-0 lead after one. Shortly after, Philadelphia began to look like the 2020-2021 Flyers, allowing the Canucks to score four goals to their one in the second to go down 4-2 after two. After a slow third period for about 17 minutes, the Flyers would eventually spark a two-goals-in-65-second spree to tie the game with the net empty. Despite their late efforts, Vancouver ended up taking the game in a shootout (corny).
As there is in every game, there are major takeaways to take away from this game. Between all of the new additions, the Flyers’ veterans, and the goaltending, let’s get into what they need to continue or fix) if they would like a successful season.
Cam Atkinson-Derick Brassard-Joel Farabee
It’s going to be a fun season with this trio. Last night showed us a glimpse of how this line will likely produce all season. Joel Farabee kicked off the scoring for the Flyers’ sneaking one by Thatcher Demko in the first period. Not only did this unveil the Flyers’ new goal song, but it symbolized a great first period.
I have a good feeling we’re going to see a lot of goals from this line, so buckle up Flyers’ fans.
High Intensity and Hits
Another positive from this game was how much energy went into the Flyers’ play for the majority of the game. The Flyers’ fourth line was putting it all on the line. Even though the NAK-Thompson-Willman line was a minus-one at the end of the night, it doesn’t describe how well they played overall. Nic Aube-Kubel earned a team-high five hits, while Nate Thompson continued his consistent solid play. In his NHL debut, Max Willman did not play awful but needs to improve his play if he wishes to crack more time in the lineup.
Along with the grinders, Oskar Lindblom of all people was hitting left and right. Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny continued to be pests with five hits and four hits, respectively. Nick Seeler was another major positive in this game. He even earned the broadcast’s great check of the game.
For the majority of the contest, the orange and black played with the energy and momentum of the 2019-2020 Flyers. They’ll need this to continue, with fewer mental lapses, if they wish to make the playoffs.
Claude Giroux deserves his own category here. From the start of the game, the captain was absolutely buzzing. The main reason he deserves his own section here is solely because of the game-tying goal with about a minute remaining.
Giroux was floating around back post and noticed Sean Couturier at the opposite high dot with time and space. Knowing Coots could pull the pass off, Giroux was pointing and screaming for a bank pass off the boards behind the net. Couturier could not have placed the pass any more perfect, and Giroux banked it off Demko’s head to tie the game up.
Last season, Philadelphia was outscored 67-50 in the second frame. However, honestly, I’ll be the one to say it, the Flyers did not play awful during the entire second period. There were a few bad bounces, a couple of saves Hart should have made, and some slow pace by the forwards. The wingers were not coming back to play as a five-man unit in the defensive zone, allowing the Canucks to generate the time and space needed to find backdoor cutters and pick corners. On Vancouver’s first goal, Keith Yandle gave Vasily Podkolzin too much time at the top of the slot, and he picked a spot against Hart. Speaking of which…
Second Period Carter Hart
If you take away the second period, Carter Hart saved all 26 shots he faced. However, he allowed four goals on 13 shots in the second period alone. The poor play in front of him didn’t help, but there were two separate goals where you sat back thinking, “Carter, wtf?”
Hart looked like he struggled with hugging the post in this game. Elias Pettersson deflected one off of Provorov, then hit the backboard, then it went in. This isn’t the worst possible angle Hart could’ve had since it deflected I guess, but still one he wishes he had back.
Later on, JT Miller threw a side-angle shot at Hart, which he saved. But then, he had no idea where it was until it was behind him.
These are fixable outcomes, luckily. For most of the game, Hart looked sharp. However, that second period is one to forget.
Last season, the Flyers had the second-worst penalty-killing percentage (73.05%). After game one, this trend could be very similar to last year. Vancouver scored on two of their four opportunities. Undisciplined hockey lost the Flyers this game, as they picked up all four penalties in the second period.
Between a bench minor, Provorov throwing the puck into the crowd, and Max Willman getting a penalty legit at the 20:00 mark of the second, the Flyers were just inflicting their own wounds.
Ellis, Coots, Thompson, and Provorov were on the Flyers’ penalty-killing unit of the season. Later on, Giroux was out there with Couturier, Sanheim, and Braun to start the kill. Atkinson, Seeler, Thompson, and Ellis then followed them up. The Flyers have to clean up their PK, and more importantly, their discipline, moving forward.
Let’s start off with the positives. Keith Yandle looks pretty good quarterbacking a powerplay. He has good hands, and kept the puck in the zone on numerous occasions when I thought it was going out. He also picked up his 500th career assist last night. Offensively, he looks great.
However, I’m not sure that this compensates for his defensive play, especially with someone that’s fairly inexperienced paired up with him. There were numerous times where he played off his forward, giving them time to generate offense. He also looks a tad slow, and just a step behind the younger kids. On the fourth goal scored by JT Miller, Yandle kinda tripped over himself and got tangled up, allowing Miller to get the puck in the first place. Hart should’ve bailed him out, but that’s only in hindsight…
I do think Keith Yandle is a good player. However, he will need a more defensive-minded and experienced partner with him when Rasmus Ristolainen returns.
Onward and upward we go, with Dave Hakstol and the brand new Seattle Kraken coming to town on Monday night.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre