Flyers-Devils Observations: Showing Potential
The Flyers are 2-0-0 after a 4-0 win on home ice against the New Jersey Devils that showed a little bit of everything the team could be this season.
Obviously, Carter Hart stole the show with his spectacular save on Taylor Hall in the second period during a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The penalty kill, with the help of Hart, was 5-for-5. The power play was 2-for-4. The Flyers managed to break the game open with two quick goals to start the third. Throughout the game, the forecheck was present. The defense was stable and solid.
This is how teams that make the playoffs look on a regular basis. It may just be the second game of the season for the Flyers, but what you got was a showing of potential, the possibilities that are there with this team.
This game was a showing of what this team could be with some consistency, when everything clicks into place. And it created for one electric atmosphere to start the season at Wells Fargo Center.
Here are some observations from the Flyers win over the Devils.
What more can you say about Carter Hart? He certainly earned this one, his first shutout at the NHL level, becoming the youngest goalie in franchise history to record a shutout.
Even before his excellent save on Hall in the second, Hart had already faced a couple of tough shots. He had to make a good save on Will Butcher on a nice cross-ice pass. He stopped Hall with a sliding stop on a great feed by Nikita Gusev, also in the first. From there, it was a much quieter second period and up until the 5-on-3 heroics, Hart didn't have to make a save that was too out of the ordinary.
But in need of a timely stop, he came up with an incredible one.
"I kind of lost the pass in the middle and then saw him winding up on the side, so I had to quickly push over and stick my arm out and luckily it hit me," Hart said.
From there, it was just a matter of if Hart and the Flyers finished the job. Was this the night he finally left a zero on the board? It became a resounding yes.
The Flyers got two power-play goals in the game in very different fashions.
Ivan Provorov's goal was a rocket from the left circle, but don't overlook the plays made by Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom. Konecny carries the puck behind the net and out to the point before handing off to Matt Niskanen, who sets up Provorov for the goal. Lindblom is parked in front of the net, part of a double screen that completely take Cory Schneider out of the picture. Schneider is helpless on a perfectly placed shot that hits the right post and finds the net.
As for Kevin Hayes' goal, you might want to get used to Hayes scoring some goals that are a little greasy. It was a shot right off a face-off out of a scrum, seemingly catching Schneider by surprise. It was a pretty good welcome for Hayes in front of the home crowd.
"I thought G made a good play on the face-off, he won the face-off and there was a scrum and I just shot at the net," Hayes said. "It’s nice to get it out of the way early. There is nothing worse than trying to score your first one and you are about 10 games in. I’m happy it was the home opener."
Konecny Strikes Again
Make it three goals and five points in two games for Travis Konecny. He may have been a late arrival to training camp due to his contract situation, but he has made his presence felt immediately to start the season.
Konecny just seems to find himself in the right place at the right time. His first goal came off a nice takeaway at the blue line against Chicago. In this case, it was a fortunate break that allowed Konecny to steal and score from in tight, making a great move to beat Schneider.
There's no doubt Konecny's style fits in well with the city and with what Alain Vigneault is trying to bring. Konecny plays the game fast, he plays smart and he's got an edge. It makes him a natural fit and a dangerous player.
With this kind of early success and many dangerous looks throughout the first two games, this may be just scratching the surface on what Konecny is capable of this season.
The Flyers sustained a lot of offensive zone time for the second straight game and really dominated the second and third periods, outside of penalty kill time. It is mainly due to their tenacious forecheck.
For a change, the Flyers aren't sitting back and hoping opportunity comes to them, they are creating opportunity. It is even in the little things -- to see Jake Voracek hustle to get onto a loose puck, to see James van Riemsdyk win a race to beat out an icing call, to see Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim activating at the right time in the attacking zone. All of it lends itself to a forechecking and offensive approach that breeds success.
It's still early, just two games into the season, but the Flyers certainly look like they are buying into this approach and willing to put in the work to have success.
Away from the game, there was the return of Wayne Simmonds to Wells Fargo Center and he did not get the welcome he wanted initially. As the forward took the ice for warmups, cheers erupted from behind the Devils bench and down that end of the ice. During the first TV timeout in the game, Simmonds was honored with a tribute video and given a standing ovation.
In true Philadelphia fashion, from there, Simmonds got what he asked for. He received boos every time he touched the puck. Hey, he asked for it.
Outside of that, a 4-0 thumping from his former team is not the most memorable return, but it was still a very special moment to see Simmonds get to give a wave to the fans that supported him for so long.