Flyers win home opener vs. Devils: Take a night to be happy
It wasn’t a perfect night for the Flyers, but God did they get off to one hell of a start. If first impressions last, then this Flyers team is going to be looked at with surprising positivity for a while.
It was a 5-2 win for the Flyers, and there were plenty of players who made talking about them an absolute necessity.
The Devils won the puck possession game for much of the night. They had 35 shots compared to the Flyers’ 23. They had a significant advantage in zone possession time and had more scoring chances in 5-on-5 play. All of that is true. The Devils won a lot of little battles tonight.
But they lost the game. And it wasn’t just luck, either.
Carter Hart came up huge, as he will have to if the Flyers have any hope of winning on an even somewhat frequent basis. The world saw the makings of an elite goalie in 2019-20 and the playoff run that followed. After a two-year detour, the world saw an elite goalie tonight.
Bet $5, Win $150 and 3 months of NBA League Pass
- Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account
- Make a first-time deposit
- Place a $5 bet on any sport
- Win $150 instantly (League Pass promo code will be emailed)
Of the two goals Hart allowed, one would be considered primarily his fault.
The first goal was a shot by rookie Alexander Holtz on the rush. It was a good shot from a dangerous area on the ice. But the puck squeezed between Hart’s pad and his blocker.
I’m sure he’d say it himself, and I will too: he should have had that.
Chalk that goal up in the “shit happens” column as far as I’m concerned. Shit is especially likely to happen when a goalie hasn’t seen preseason action at all and hasn’t seen game action in several months.
The second goal was a wrist shot with sniper precision that hit the top-right corner of the net. With several Devils and Flyers all collapsing in front of the net, Hart had little chance to track the puck. He was behind the play. A rare thing indeed for Hart, but unavoidable.
To make matters worse, Damon Severson–the shooter–had a good hour to tee up his shot. There was no pressure on the shooter, and when an NHL player has that much time… goalies don’t have a chance.
The second goal? Lay that at the feet of the Flyers’ defense as they got hemmed in their zone.
Otherwise? Hart was phenomenal. This game was a display of his otherworldly talent, and I desperately hope we see many more such displays.
Carter Hart was, perhaps, the primary reason the Flyers won the game. But not the only reason.
Ivan Provorov played one of his better games as a Flyer tonight and showed off the reason many believe he has the talent to be a number 1 defenseman in the NHL. He had two assists. One of which came from a beautiful wrist shot creating a rebound for Wade Allison, and the second came off of keeping a play alive with a brilliantly conceived and executed pinch.
Provorov was impactful offensively and dominant defensively. He blocked ten shots, and the entire team only blocked twenty-five. He was a +4 on the night. He played goalie for a second and made a kick save to bail out Carter Hart.
He was a hound on defense, harassing superstar players like Jack Hughes and making it a nightmare for them to even possess the puck.
He was a difference-maker. And he wasn’t the only often maligned Flyer to be a difference maker.
Travis Konecny, too, looked like a difference-maker on the ice tonight. He scored two goals and clanged a potential third off the post.
More important than the goals being scored was the way Konecny scored them. He adopted a shooter’s mentality tonight and showed just how good his release is when he gets to the dangerous areas.
His first goal was a beautiful snipe between the defender’s legs and over the goalie as he made a split in an attempt to save a puck he could scarcely see. That was a sniper’s goal.
His second goal came on the Power Play, an area where the Flyers’ recent struggles have been of mythological proportions. He was playing the bumper position, stationed between the two face-off circles. And he was teeing off with high-quality wrist shots with regularity.
His teammates did a spectacular job threading passes to him. But it was up to Konecny to make good on all of those passes, and he did.
After ringing the post with his first shot, Konecny recalibrated and put his second goal into the top-left corner of the net. It was a bullet off of his stick, and the goalie didn’t have a chance.
Konecny was one of two Flyers who had two goals on the night.
Morgan Frost–the prospect fans discarded–was the other. His first goal came off of an accurate shot to the outside corner while the netminder was hugging the inside post.
It was a perfect illustration of how Frost can score from distance, even though he doesn’t exactly possess the world’s hardest shot. If he can find those small holes a goalie leaves open in their coverage of the net, then it doesn’t matter if the puck comes in at 60mph or 160.
The second goal–despite being an empty netter–might have been even more impressive. After a rush is triggered into the Devils’ zone, Frost is forced to the outside. He throws out a backhand, but the shot goes wide. He recovers his own miss after the puck bounces off of the boards.
Frost has a sixth sense that makes him such a dangerous playmaker and he used it here. Knowing that Laczynksi was crashing the net, Frost threw out what was intended to be a pass so his teammate could crash it in. It was a great effort just to get the puck to the front of the net.
And he was the one rewarded for it.
The puck bounces in the net off of Dougie Hamilton’s stick as he tries to defend the crashing Laczynksi. So call it Frost’s goal.
And call this a high-quality, highly entertaining win by the Flyers.
Other teams won’t make it as easy to score as the Devils did. Their typically porous defense was especially nonexistent tonight, and they surrendered enough rush chances to make the most offensively inclined coach want to rip their hair out.
The Devils might blame their goaltending for their woes. But the truth is, they just don’t give their goalie a chance. No matter which of the twelve they throw out there on any given night.
But plenty of other teams won’t be as offensively lethal as the Devils are. Jack Hughes is a special player. Jesper Bratt is an elite young talent. They have all the tools to score.
They just didn’t have the tools to score on Carter Hart and the Flyers.
It was a great win. And all prognostications of the season to come should be secondary to celebrating a highly entertaining victory. Intensely fought for and well earned.
Mandatory Credit: AP Photo | Matt Slocum