After defeating a hollow shell of the Kings on Friday 4-2, and losing to the Coyotes in OT 4-3 on Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers will be wrapping up their road trip on Tuesday 10/18 at Chicago. With the NHL season in full force, fans finally were able to view the current roster in force. Here are a few takeaways from the weekend:
Of the seven goals that were scored this weekend, only one came from Wayne Simmonds on the top line. Sure, there is a lot to complain about after Voracek’s career-low 11 goal season last year, however what this tells Flyers fans is that we have incredible depth. Top lines don’t win a Stanley Cup, cohesive teams win cups and this weekend was a perfect example to show how the Flyers are Schenn-sational even without Brayden Schenn.
On Friday in LA, Claude Giroux and his linemates played the shutdown role that Coots has been known for since he has entered the NHL. However, with G at the helm to stop Anze Kopitar, Sean Couturier was given some breathing room offensively to earn his first two goals of the season, including two helpers from Travis Konecny. If Giroux keeps up this Selke-like performance to give Coots some relief on his defensive duties, Couturier should bloom into that top-six player that Fans always knew he could be. When asked of his two goals on Friday, Couturier only has the speed of his linemates to blame for his success. It’s easy to set up and score on a play when you have the speed of Voracek or Konecny at your either side. Provorov finished the weekend with an assist, and both Konecny and the unlikely Brandon Manning tallied 3 assists in 2 games each over the weekend.
Smart Off-Season Signings:
Other goals were had by Mark Streit, Matt Read, Michael Raffl, and Boyd Gordon. Considering that Boyd Gordon has never played an entire 82 game season since he entered the league in 2003, and he only tallied 4 points (2G) last year with Arizona, it was a surprise to see him score the first goal on the season in LA on Friday. It was even more surprising to see him score another goal in Arizona on Saturday that was eventually waived off after being reviewed.
It stings now that Gordon’s goal in ARZ didn’t count, leaving with a 4-3 OT loss, but in the grand scheme of things there is a lot of hockey left and the Flyers will rebound. Signing Gordon as a free agent on July 1st is showing how savvy Ron Hextall is as a GM, and how far he can make a dollar stretch. Remember, he is $50k less expensive a year than Ryan White, and every dollar matters in this salary cap world. Hextall didn’t pick up Gordon to score goals, he picked him up as a specialty player. Hextall earlier this week complemented Gordon by saying that he is “a guy you want in the last minute of the game”. Hextall goes further to praise him of his shot blocking and penalty killing, but his best asset has to be on the face-off. Boyd Gordon finished the 2105-2016 season at 57.9% faceoff success. Gordon was third best in faceoffs in the entire league last year, only behind Jonathan Toews and Ryan Kesler. To put this in perspective, Claude Giroux came in 6th overall at 57.5%, and then the next best Flyers faceoff came in at 71st overall with Sean Couturier at 48.6%. More faceoff wins mean more puck possession, which means more time out of the defensive zone. Boyd Gordon isn’t expected to rock anyone’s world this season with goals, but he is going to shoulder a good part of the workload that Giroux has been relied upon for years in the face-off circle and the PK.
Shayne Gostisbehere was injured within the first five minutes of the first period when he took a skate to the face from LA’s Kyle Clifford after an awkward fall. Ghost did not miss a single shift, and was on the ice less than 90 seconds later with a fresh layer of liquid skin. Gostisbehere earned an assist on Couturier’s first goal of the night. Ghost admits that he was lucky with the cut landing on his cheekbone (and not his eye), as well as the severity of the injury not even requiring stitches. It’s fearless and dedicated play like this that inspires the rest of his teammates to rally around him and the rest of the team.
First Period Follies and Lack of Communication:
During both games over the weekend they had awful first period’s. The Flyers had two too many penalties for too many men on this ice in the first three minutes of Saturdays game in Arizona. The special teams are also showing a lack of chemistry as the ageless Shane Doan scored a power play goal against us in the first, and Brad Richardson opened the second with a . Again, the season is young as well as our players, but hopefully a little home-ice practice will help fine tune our special teams after this roadtrip. The Flyers are currently 0/6 on the power play. In LA, the Flyers were held to only 4 SOG in the first, after exploding in the second period to notch 4 goals.
Home Team Notes: LA is starting to look like the Montreal Canadiens of last year. After Vezina-finalist Jonathan Quick was injured in LA’s season opener on Wednesday, he is expected to be out 3 to 4 months with the possibility of surgery needed. Marian Gaborik is expected to miss another 6 weeks as well with a foot injury sustained in the world cup. Jeff Zatkoff and Peter Budaj are the only goaltending the Kings have to rely on for the time being, and they both look like they belong in the minor leagues.
For Arizona, Shane Doan showed that he only gets better with age by scoring a goal. It’s curious to see what 27 year old GM John Chakya has in store for the future of the desert dogs.
Bottom line is that the Flyers look solid, from every line. Although there is room for improvement and special teams need to be fine tuned, the future of Philadelphia looks bright. It will be even more exciting to see what happens when they have key players such as Brayden Schenn and Radko Gudas return from suspension, as well as healthy versions of Michael Del Zotto and Scott Laughton. Stay tuned to Sporting Edge throughout the NHL season to stay posted on the latest Flyers news and happenings.
Author: Dick Smith
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