The steady march of time stops for no one, and you know what that means—the Flyers are back for another season.
They kicked things off with what was likely a shocking victory to many, as we saw their offensive production veritably explode in a 5-2 win over the Devils, with a depleted lineup, after having averaged around a mere one goal per game over the preseason. And for as much as we’ve wound up for this season talking about how ugly and difficult it’s likely to be, this was a real pleasant surprise.
The Flyers, already hit reasonably hard by the injury bug, headed into this season with a young lineup, and that paid dividends for them. Their first goal of the season came from Wade Allison, and it was a nice one.
Allison, healthy and clearly glad to be back in action, had a big night on the whole. On top of chipping in that goal, he was able to create a couple more chances, made one nice high effort play to keep an offensive push alive, brought a nice bit of energy and physicality, to boot.
The Flyers also got two goals out of Morgan Frost (a nice bit of redemption after he got off to a bit of a rocky start to the game, taking a penalty in the first period), and another two out of Travis Konecny, which was a very welcome sight after last season, when it looked like he could not buy a single goal, no matter how much he tried.
We saw a lot that we liked from the Flyers’ young players, and it seemed that the coaching staff felt the same way, enough to trust all of Allison and Frost, as well as Noah Cates and Tanner Laczynski to be sent out in a 5-on-6 situation at the end of the game, to protect the lead. That’s certainly not nothing.
It was a big night for the kids in particular, but John Tortorella seemed pleased with the complete efforts of the team as a whole. Put simply, he said post-game, “I thought we played our ass off. We played hard. Do we have things we have to clean up? Yeah.”
Working hard and being hard to play against have been big buzz phrases for the team heading into the season, areas they want to address, and those seemed to be boxes they checked well enough last night. The energy was good, and they didn’t completely fall to pieces when they gave up the first goal to the Devils. That feels minor, in a way, but for this team, it’s a step in the right direction.
But, that said, the latter half of that quote is a big piece we should also key in on here.
We want to be careful, of course, about going too crazy with the optimism after this one—we have been hurt before, after all. We’d be hard pressed to say that this was a perfect game, or even a complete game. The Flyers were bleeding chances throughout the game, even after they started to find their footing. All told, they totaled an adjusted 31.87 CF% and 35.44 xGF% at 5-on-5, and at times looked like they were just scrambling around in their own end, reacting to the play, rather than reading it. And even Carter Hart—who, we should note, stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced, and did well to bail out the skaters a few times, particularly late in the game—himself didn’t look completely settled in. There’s work left to be done on the penalty kill, which is where the team looked to most scattered on the night. We saw positive flashes from individuals, and that’s certainly welcome, but the team as a whole didn’t look as cohesive as we might have hoped to see.
Now, it was the first game of the season, and a bit of messiness and rust is to be expected, especially given the lineup they have to work with, and the fact that they’re getting adjusted to a new coach’s system. We can live with it. And we can all appreciate the win and the tone it set to start the season, but it’s clearly not lost on anyone that there remains a good deal of work to be done.
And where they go from here is going to be the most important thing. We’ve seen this team show flashes of brilliance before and then have that fizzle out spectacularly, time and again. This is supposed to be a new era that they’re kicking off, and while this is a good start to it, they have to prove that they’re able to now keep the ball rolling.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.