The Philadelphia Flyers are officially back! While those of us in Europe and the UK slept, the Flyers played a hockey game, their season opener, in sin city (Las Vegas) against the Golden Knights. Personally, I was a bit nervous about this game, particularly because it was the Knights’ banner raising ceremony before the game for winning the Western Conference in the playoffs, and the Flyers have never been an excellent road team as of late. However, they continued to subvert my expectations, and came out 5-2 winners.
Here are some observations I took from the opener:
- The Wayne Train is back!
Simmonds is perhaps notorious for having good opening days, as he scored a hattrick in last year’s season opener. Today, he added two goals, one even strength and one on the power play, as on both occasions he found himself in his office, right in front of the net near the goalie crease. They were both rather…gritty…goals. See what I did there? Jokes aside, it’s nice to see Simmonds lighting the lamp again for the Flyers after a lot of fans thought he would be traded in the offseason. With Simmonds here, and if he continues this, the top 9 will be scary for opposing defences.
- Gudas and Sanheim’s underlying numbers are good
If I told you that a Flyers defence pair posted a 58.82% CF% at 5v5, you would probably be safe to assume that would be Provorov and Ghost. However, as the title of this point says, it was Sanheim and perennial danger Radko Gudas. Historically, the pair have driven play quite well, and that continued tonight. Each defenceman had one assist a piece, and it’s surprising to say the least to see Gudas not playing so frighteningly bad. In fact, he played frighteningly GOOD tonight!
- TK, Giroux, and Van Riemsdyk solid, Vorobyev excellent in debut
All 4 of these forwards posted possession stats over 50%, and each had their shining moments in this game. Konecny hit the post as the seconds ran out, and deserved a goal. Giroux’s cross ice passing to Voracek opened up the opportunity for Simmonds to score on the power play. JVR found Robert Hagg with a sweet pass who scored to make it 4-1, and Vorobyev centering JVR and Simmonds looked completely deserving of the roster spot.
- Brian Elliott, NHL Goalie
He stopped 23 of 25 shots tonight, and I wouldn’t say that any of the goals he let in were particularly bad. The first goal from Marchessault was really the fault of coaching as they got caught out on a line change, and the Knights just quickly worked the puck up to Marchessault who beat a defenceless Elliott. By the time Bellemare scored the second goal, they were already up 5-1, so no harm there. He didn’t look like a goalie coming off of surgery, which was great to see considering many expected him to be rusty.
In conclusion, a Flyers opening night win, who can complain! They’ll be away against the Avalanche, Sunday 2:00 AM U.K. time (9 PM EST).