The Philadelphia Flyers opened up their 2020-21 season with a bang. After two wins, 6-3 & 5-2, over their cross-state rival the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers finished their four-game home stand with a win & a lose to the Buffalo Sabres.
After their 3-1-0 week, the Flyers currently sit in a tie for 1st place in the East Division.
Even with three wins, the Flyers did not play good hockey. Over the four games, the Flyers were bailed out by their goal-tending too much. Which was good in their three wins. However, was their downfall in their lone loss.
With their first four games at home, the Flyers now head on the road for the first time this season. The Flyers will play twice in Boston, Thursday & Saturday, and then had to New Jersey, Tuesday & following Thursday, to complete their first four-game road trip of the season.
Here are the three biggest observations from the Flyers last week…
1- “We’re not going to apologize for good goaltending”
The one thing good teams need is goalies to win you games. To start the season, the Flyers have gotten that from not just their starter, Carter Hart, but also their backup, Brian Elliott.
Through the first four-games, Carter Hart & Brian Elliott have given the Flyers great goal-tending. Goal-tending that head coach Alain Vigneault said “we’re not going to apologize for.”
In the first four-games, the Flyers have been up-&-down when it comes to their play at 5v5. Which, with no preseason, was expected to say the least. But, the Flyers goalies have minimized those downs & have led the Flyers to three-wins out of four-games.
“We know what we are going to get. That’s the benefit of having two solid goalies,” forward Travis Konecny said.
2- “It’s next man up”
With the Flyers the deepest they have been in years, having depth is good for multiple reasons. On a nightly basis, it helps with any line being able to contribute & dominate a game. But, it is also good incase of injuries. Which, for the Flyers, has been a top story in the first week of the season.
Just 3:32 into the 2nd game of the season, the Flyers lost Sean Couturier for at least two weeks due to costochondral separation. Couturier’s injury led to Morgan Frost getting his shot. A shot that head coach Alain Vigneault said “it’s next man up for who can come up and play” for the injured Couturier.
But, like Sean Couturier, the Flyers have now lost Morgan Frost to injury. Like Couturier, in Frost’s 2nd game of the season, Frost left due to an injury to his upper body. But, Frost wasn’t the only Flyer that would leave hurt in that game. Phil Myers also left.
Both Morgan Frost & Phil Myers are expected to miss similar amount of time, if not more, as Sean Couturier. Which will put the Flyers depth & “next man up” mentality to the test.
3- Struggling 5v5 Play
Even with three-wins out of four-games, the Flyers struggled at even strength. If it was not for their good goal-tending, the Flyers could have very well lost three out of four games.
In all four games, the Flyers were outshot & outplayed at even strength. Something that head coach Alain Vigneault knows that “there is no doubt that I feel we can be better 5 on 5”.
One of the main issues is the Flyers inability to exit their zone cleanly. Which they did a much better job at in their last game. But, still relied too much on their goal-tending. That, while it’s good, is ok. However, like in their 6-1 loss to Buffalo, could be a downfall.
“I think the last game was probably our worst game, but the first two games, we knew we could play better,” captain Claude Giroux said.
With Sean Couturier hurt, the Philadelphia Flyers elevated Connor Bunnaman to the active roster. A move that would have made Bunnaman the 13th forward. But, with the injury to Morgan Frost, Bunnaman will now be in the lineup.
To get Connor Bunnaman on the roster, the Flyers moved Shayne Gostisbehere to “Non-Roster Status”, which can be used for Covid-19 protocol players. Which since the final day of training camp, Gostisbehere has been in.
Due to the impending news of Phil Myers, the Flyers elevated Derrick Pouliot to the taxi-squad. A move that now gives the Flyers eight defensemen again, D Nate Prosser also on taxi-squad, with 7th defenseman Mark Friedman moving into the lineup.
Photo Credit : Len Redkoles – Getty Images