The Philadelphia Flyers won't be having any of that 0-3-3 nonsense this year. Ray Emery made 28 saves, earning the shutout, while Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored two power play goals to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in the season opener. Emery is the first Flyer goaltender to record a shutout in his debut since Jeff Hackett in 2003.
The special teams play, much heralded as a major strength on this Flyers team, proved their mettle tonight. The two power play goals came on each end of a double minor that kicked off the second period, but it was the penalty kill that really kept the Flyers in the game tonight. On eight Carolina power plays, the Flyers penalty killers blocked shots, got in passing lanes, and allowed limited rubber to get through to Emery. Chris Pronger, Ian Laperriere, Blair Betts, and Kimmo Timonen all looked excellent on the penalty kill. Timonen, in fact, had four blocked shots in the game, while Laperriere had nine.
Of course, on the flip side, we see the continuing theme from last season -- too many penalties. While a few, most notably Dan Carcillo's boarding penalty in the first period, were stupid, pointless infractions, most were on the defensive end while the Flyers were pressed in their own end.
"We wanna get that number down," coach John Stevens said of the amount of penalties. "I didn't see a lot of undisciplined penalties, but we've got to cut down on the defensive penalties. It's important because we can roll four really good lines [at even strength]."
Mika Pyorala also impressed on all sides of the puck. While he only saw 12 minutes of ice time in his NHL debut, he played on the power play and the penalty kill. His outstanding vision and hockey sense stood out on several occasions, and he seems to be more comfortable with the North American style of play each night.
Also in his NHL debut, rookie James van Riemsdyk picked up his first NHL point. Sure, it was just a secondary assist on Richards' power play goal, but he did it with just under nine minutes of ice time. It was a good start to his NHL career, but look for him to have even more energy tomorrow night in Newark, just a short drive from his native Middletown, New Jersey.
Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward was sharp, but he was bested by his Flyer counterpart, Emery. In his first NHL game in a year and a half, Razor shined. He looked poised and he told CSN's Steve Coates after the game that he feels like he's seeing the puck very well right now. Let's hope it continues.
Questions To Answer
- Do the Flyers start off their season with a bang? Is inconsistency a storyline following the game? The Flyers looked strong in all three periods of play tonight. While they didn't dominate play in the third period, they didn't take their foot off the gas either. Carolina has to be credited for applying pressure to stay in the game, just as the Flyers defense (and Emery) has to be commended for keeping the puck out of the net.
- How does Ray Emery hold up in real, live, meaningful NHL competition? Sharp, cool, and collected.
- James van Riemsdyk, Mika Pyorala, and Danny Syvret. How do they look? All three looked good with limited ice time. Syvret was unnoticed, with the exception of a slashing penalty in the third period.
- Who scores the first goal of the season? Jeff Carter on the PP. 46 goals last year, and another strong season should make 50 reachable.
Next game: Tomorrow night, 7 PM ET, against the Devils in North Jersey.