Stick your head out the window and take in a deep breath. What is that you taste in the air? Sweat? Trepidation? Perhaps optimism, overladen with the much thicker and more familiar scent that is fatalism? Can you smell what Gritty is cooking?
You know what time it is. You’ve been waiting all year to break out your fluorescent orange, your gray hoodie underneath your jersey, and your patented superiority complex. It’s time for motherfucking ice sports.
However, if you’re reading this recap, it’s very likely because you, an incredibly rational human being, decided that you simply were not going to forego your precious sleep for The Flyers (After Dark [2018-2019 Edition]) and to that I say: what a decision. Truly. You’ve prioritized, you’ve made healthy choices; I am full of envy. Envy, and Insomnia Cookies, which I ordered to arrive at exactly 9:45.
(Disclaimer: Broad Street Hockey is not sponsored by Insomnia Cookies, but we would not say no to any offers. Call us anytime.)
Our Philadelphia Flyers took on the Vegas Golden Knights tonight in a stunning display of what was definitely, assuredly, no-doubt-about-it sports. It feels good to be back, and in the Gritty era no less.
The puck dropped at about 10:15 p.m., which means that all of us pessimists who were convinced that we wouldn’t see the game until 11 have been proven to just be assholes. Vegas didn’t take long to show some good looks, most notably by new linemates Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny who nearly had a goal on their first shift of the game. Excellent, this is exactly what we were all hoping for.
Not to be outdone, however, the Flyers started to show similar flashes of skill, with a scoring chance being generated by Mikhail Vorobyev and Wayne Simmonds on their own first shift of the game. Even before the scoring began, the first period was highlighted by genuinely exciting levels of energy. The type of stuff that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like a soft blanket, a mug of Sleepytime tea, and a statistical breakdown of Claude Giroux’s 102 points last season.
As is the nature of our frustrating boys, the Flyers would have a handful of turnovers in their own zone, getting sloppy with the puck and exacerbating my stress acne. They failed numerous times to clear at the line and just looked straight-up silly in a more than a few sequences. When Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (rest in peace, prince) nearly netted a goal, you could feel it in your bones that the Vegas goal had to be imminent.
It was, of course.
Andrew MacDonald took a spill, sliding across the ice gracefully, an elegant seal in its natural habitat. A bad line change happened. Jonathan Marchessault, who is a smart guy, took advantage of this sequence of events, and Vegas went up 1-0. It was not great. Let’s move on.
This was not optimal... pic.twitter.com/Vpwih7LYtp— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 5, 2018
The first penalty of the night went to our very own James van Riemsdyk at 8:04 for tripping. Welcome home, son. The Flyers penalty skill went to work, and to their credit, didn’t look too bad doing it. They held Vegas back decently and for a historic moment, with an incredibly small sample size, we have a 100% penalty kill success rate. Roll with it. This surely will not last.
Do you remember, way back in 2016, when Boyd Gordon scored the first Flyers goal of the season? When none of us had any idea what to do or say or think? Thankfully, he is off this team now, and we need not dwell on his existence. This year’s Boyd Gordon Goal (new name I’ve given for the first goal of the season) was gifted to us by none other than Oskar Lindblom.
Travis Sanheim did a fantastic job of getting the puck to Lindblom on an odd-man rush, and he knew exactly what to do with it. Tie game, and it felt so good.
Oskar Lindblom scores the first goal of the Flyers 2018/19 season. pic.twitter.com/G47Lkj6nKF— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 5, 2018
Although Vegas would fail to score for the rest of the period, they looked terribly dangerous in the Flyers’ zone. Several times I almost believed that I’d missed a Vegas power play and kept having to count the skaters. They were lucky to get out of that unscathed.
After getting molly-whopped in their own zone for a not-insignificant amount of time, the Flyers managed to make it to the other side of the ice, where a man named Oscar Lindberg did some fancy defensive stuff to keep the puck out of Marc-Andre Fleury’s net. Simmonds, however, did something mad disrespectful and decided to put it in anyway. That’s the go-ahead goal, folks. We’re getting this bread tonight.
Wayne puts the Flyers up 2-1! pic.twitter.com/4AaI0ehdj3— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 5, 2018
AFTER ONE: Flyers 2, Golden Knights 1, shots 8-7 Flyers
We’re riding this high tonight. A hundred motherfuckers truly cannot tell me nothing right now.
The second period, which I am tentatively calling ‘Pure Ecstasy,’ started off strong with a Flyers power play at 1:34. Eric Haula would go to the box for slashing on Nolan Patrick, who did a fair job drawing that penalty on a defensive play. Patrick, if you recall, was gifted to us in the 2017 draft, when we jumped up to the 2nd overall pick in the lottery. It’s true. That’s what happened.
Right from the start, the power play looked solid. Fleury came up with some big saves, but Vegas had serious difficulties clearing the puck, and the Flyers looked perfectly comfortable camping out in their zone. They just looked good, and you knew they were gonna net one, come on, you felt it in your bones.
Once again, it was Simmonds in his tried-and-true spot parked right in front of the net that put the Flyers up another goal. 3-1, good guys. That’s two goals for Wayne tonight. Last year, if you remember, he put up a hat-trick on opening night. Utterly sick. Do it again, buddy.
THE TRAIN IS BACK IN MOTION BABY— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 5, 2018
3-1 Flyers. pic.twitter.com/ojiqWTbjdH
The Flyers, for lack of a better phrase, absolutely whipped ass following that goal. No use downplaying it. They looked much stronger on the puck than they did in the first period, holding onto it with ease and keeping the turnovers to a minimum. They dominated Vegas in all zones, kept the pace going in terms of speed and physicality, and looked consistently dangerous.
The scoreboard would reflect this as well. Not long after the Simmonds goal, a stellar effort by van Riemsdyk to get a pass off to Robert Hagg would end in a goal. Hagg snapped the puck right past Fleury (who has looked bad, not good) and made him just look silly.
Robert Hagg with a snipe (???)— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 5, 2018
4-1 Flyers pic.twitter.com/vnfyCg9d5p
I did not have any time to recover from that goal before the Flyers put up another one. Some disrespectful stuff here from those guys. A shot from Radko Gudas (who has looked good, not bad) made its way to Scott Laughton up front, where it went off his stick and in. That’s 5-1 Flyers, if you’re wondering. Are you laughing? I am personally laughing.
Scott Laughton makes it FIVE to one. pic.twitter.com/DhuevlIMa7— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 5, 2018
During the TV timeout, Gerard Gallant did the Old Yeller thing and put Fleury out of his misery. At least he did it in private, behind the barn, where no one else could see. Malcolm Subban would come in to relieve him.
It’s traditional of the Flyers to start turtling after taking a lead, and like coming home to a warm, familiar, sweaty hug, they started to do just that. Vegas began to generate energy again, though they couldn’t quite complete on their passes. Slowly but surely, the second half of this period saw the Flyers looking more and more sluggish and sloppy. Like whatever the opposite of a fine wine is. Like a moldy container of Philadelphia™ Cream Cheese. (Still not sponsored.)
Pacioretty came up with a scoring chance that didn’t quite go, and his extra poke to Brian Elliott’s glove did not earn him any friends. MacDonald went to challenge him, and Pacioretty just started wailing on him. Vegas, this is your mans? In the end, both he and MacDonald would go to the penalty box, along with Haula for good measure. A power play? Don’t mind if I do, thanks.
The Flyers kind of flubbed on this one. I guess when you’re up 5-1, you can quickly forget that it’s good to score goals. They ended up giving up a shorthanded opportunity to Ryan Carpenter here, and I would be way more mad if we weren’t up 5-1. Picture me making a vague, wiggly hand gesture and producing an “ehhhh” sound.
The rest of the period stayed uneventful, but one thing that truly stood out was Brian Elliott’s play. He looked like a completely different goaltender as compared to the preseason. If he can keep this up, there’s no need for any of us to take the fatalist approach with our goaltending this season. God willing Dave Hakstol doesn’t run him right into the ground.
AFTER TWO: Flyers 5, Golden Knights 1, shots 18-17 Flyers
I don’t know why this team does this. Do they hate me? Is it me specifically that they hate? What did I do? You know, I could do more, sure. I could stop making mean jokes about them on social media. But do I deserve all of this? Really?
The Flyers, who went from ‘bad’ to ‘excellent’ to ‘really bad,’ decided to start the third period out firmly in the ‘ehhh’ category. They would take a penalty almost immediately, with Gudas going to the box for holding. Because this simply would not be enough, our buddy ol’ pal MacDonald knocked William Karlsson right into Elliott, ending in a penalty of his own. He is not to be outdone.
To their credit, the Flyers defended the 5-on-3 as well as they could manage, and we miraculously got out of it alive. This had much more to do with Elliott coming up with massive saves than anything else. He will be turning this car around if you guys don’t stop acting up, so help him God.
Despite the 2-man advantage, Vegas had a rough time getting the puck to the net, with Marchessault in particular hilariously whiffing on a shot that would’ve surely wound up a goal. Although the Flyers did well here, they also got ridiculously lucky. We should acknowledge that the Gods are on our side (except for all the times when they are not).
The Vegas power play simply could not get it done, and soon after it ended the Flyers would get a man advantage of their own on a delayed penalty. Even with the extra time given to them, they could not come up with a goal, giving up an opportunity in their own zone just as the power play ended. I know this isn’t ideal, but at least it’s consistent.
Some dude named Nick Holden (haha Nick’s holdin’ what? hahaha) wasn’t being super nice to Nolan Patrick, which as we are all aware should be a felony punishable by death, and Vorobyev had some words for him. A few post-whistle shoves later, and the Flyers would end up with a power play with Karlsson serving the time. That just seemed right to me, someone who appreciates friendship and camaraderie.
Yeah, they didn’t do anything with that one either. Unless you count ‘giving up a goal’ which I guess is something. Remember Bellemare? The handsome fella who couldn’t do good hockey with us? Whatever, you beautiful bastard. 5-2.
Vegas was the better team by a huge margin in the third period; the only thing truly keeping them at bay was Elliott, who looked solid from beginning to end all night. What a guy. I’m sorry for every mean thing that everyone else was saying about you. I wasn’t saying any of it. You can check my Twitter feed. I said nothing bad about you at all. Godspeed, dad.
AFTER THREE: Flyers 5, Golden Knights 2, shots 25-24 Golden Knights