The Flyers Look Very Fast And They Look Extremely Undefeated After Beating The Sharks In The Season Opener

Philadelphia Flyers v San Jose Sharks

Flyers 5, Sharks 3 | (1-0-0) 

How’s everybody feeling this morning? Feeling sick? Feeling like you’re extra hungover even though you didn’t really drink much last night? Did you question calling out of work this morning at least 8-9 times before finally getting yourself out of bed? Welcome to Philadelphia Flyers West Coast Hockey. Starting the season with a 10:50 EST puck drop was some sick and twisted shit pulled by the schedule makers. Usually you have to build your immune system up for a couple of weeks before you can handle that west coast trip but we got thrown right into the fire here. But the only thing worse than a 10:30 season opener is losing a 10:30 season opener. So you can enjoy your 6 cups of coffee today knowing that the Philadelphia Flyers are currently tied for 1st place in the league and are extremely undefeated, sitting at 1-0 after beating San Jose in the Shark Tank last night.

Let’s be real with ourselves here for a second. I think most people reading this blog right now probably forgot that the Flyers could actually be fun to watch at times. What we saw last night, at least for the most part, was actually good hockey. We saw 4 lines that can play with speed and can generate offense. We saw a powerplay unit that was great last year but looks even more dynamic this year. We saw Captain Claude get on the board. We saw Ghost getting bombs on net. Provorov looks like he has a ton of confidence. There were obviously some blunders here and there coming from guys who we expected to see blunders out of. But for the most part, the Flyers played a style of hockey that gets you wins in the NHL. And that’s a great sign moving forward.

1st Line Is Going To Dominate

Plenty of people were caught off guard when the Flyers tried moving Claude Giroux to the wing in training camp this summer and bumping Sean Couturier up to 1C. After just 1 regular season game, this is the best that I’ve seen all 3 of these guys play in the past 500 days. I feel like there wasn’t a single shift they were out there that they didn’t win. I think we all saw what allowing Giroux to focus more on offense instead of having too much defensive responsibility is going to do to his game. They were constantly generating chances and when you play fast and hard, you get rewarded with layups like that 1st goal of the game.  Clearly Coots still needs to work on finding his scoring touch a bit.

But that’ll come once he’s playing with Giroux and Voracek more. You can tell he’s still taking a little while to get used to their game but with how good the two of them are at setting people up, this should be the best season of his career so far.

4th Line Is Going To Dominate

No-look, backhand, spin around pass right on the fucking tape from Taylor Leier here. That’s the kind of pass that wet dreams are made of and it’s coming from the Flyers’ 4th line. Granted, Laughton shit the bed on a great opportunity here but similar to Coots, it’s just going to take these guys some time to find their touch. The point here is that having a 4th line of Leier – Laughton – Raffl does so much for this team. For the first time in probably ever, the Flyers have a 4th line that can actually play. A 4th line with some skill and a ton of speed. When you can roll 4 lines without much of a drop off, that makes your team more and more dangerous as the year goes on. It also opens up more possibilities late in tight games. You can afford to double shift a guy like Giroux and send him out there with 2 of these guys without completely wasting him. You couldn’t do that with a Bellemare or a VandeVelde last year. But the depth of this forward group is crazy good right now and will only get better once Oscar Lindblom gets called up.

Wayne Simmonds Is The Best Player In The League

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That’s not editorialized or anything. It’s simply the facts. Wayne Simmonds is currently tied for the league lead in goals and points with Connor McDavid. A hat trick on opening night for the reigning NHL All Star Game MVP. Not a big deal. 1 empty netter and then 2 goals from parking his beautiful ass in front of the net on the powerplay and tipping in lasers from the point. Brayden Schenn led the team with 11 powerplay goals last season. Wayne Simmonds is going to have that many by the end of the month. And not only is PP1 already looking automatic, but PP2 might even look better.

Yes, I’m well aware this was an extra weak goal for Martin Jones to let in. But this is what happens when you gain the zone with speed on the powerplay instead of that bullshit slingshot nonsense the Flyers have been using for years. You have the ability to catch teams off guard like this and that’s a great little play between Travis Konecny and Jordan Weal for the goal. Really happy with the way just about everything looked offensively last night.

Now even though we’re in a really good mood and we’re happy with the Flyers win, there are still a few mistakes that were made last night that can’t become regular issues. For starters…

Stay The Friggin’ Heck Out Of The Penalty Box

The Flyers took 6 penalties last night. I know refs are calling the game even tighter than usual now but that’s not an excuse. You’re playing against Brent Burns, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. If you give those guys 6 chances to score on you with a man advantage, you’re setting yourself up to get ass blasted. The Flyers are lucky San Jose only scored twice on the powerplay last night. The penalty kill actually looked pretty good aside from that horrific clearing attempt from Dale Weise to end the 1st period. Weise shouldn’t even be in the lineup anyway so hopefully we never have to see that again. But you take a look around the Metro. Every team has at least 1 or 2 or 3 guys on their top powerplay unit that will light you the fuck up if you keep giving them chances. The Flyers were lucky to only get scored on twice last night, I don’t think they’ll be as lucky if they give Ovechkin 6 powerplays to work with every game.


Centers Need To Play Defense

We always talk about how great it is to have these offensive defensemen like Ghost and Provorov and Sanheim. But what that means is that every now and then, they’re going to get caught trying to make a play in the offensive zone and somebody needs to cover for them when the play goes the other way. On this goal, Gostisbehere stepped down for a cross ice pass that didn’t hit the mark. The Sharks take it back down the ice and Scott Laughton does a great job at back checking to make sure there isn’t a 2v1. But what he does next is… well… well it’s bad. Laughton is the center. He should know that Ghost is behind the play and know that he now has the defensive responsibility to stay with Lebanc on the crease. Instead, he floats up to the middle of the slot doing god knows what, leaves Lebanc alone in front and he makes a sick play on the puck to cut the lead in half. If you want to play center for the Flyers, you need to play defense.

Brian Elliott. Good Not Great?

Always tough to get a read on goalies in the 1st game of the season. Just 30 seconds into the game I thought Brian Elliott was going to put his mark on Flyers goaltending history with this mess of a play. Luckily Gudas was there to save the day and for the most part, Elliott settled in and had himself a nice little game. Way better than his season opener with Calgary went last year. Thought Elliott was impressive positionally outside of this play. He makes sure he’s in the right spot to give himself a chance to battle between the pipes. But what I’m a little nervous about is the rebounds. Just didn’t look like he had a lot of control over them last night and luckily the Sharks just weren’t able to take advantage. But again, it’s only one game. And opposed to Steve Mason’s debut with Winnipeg, I’ll take Brian Elliott giving us a few scares but still getting the win over that every single day.

Feels great to be back, people. Flyers are at it again tonight. 10pm in LA vs the Kings. Then Saturday night at 10pm vs the Ducks. Week 1 in the NHL season and the sleep deprivation is already real.