Observations from the Flyers’ 4-0 win over the Devils
Lost in Carter Hart’s dazzling performance was the Flyers power play, with two solid units, and the penalty killers turning aside nearly eight minutes shorthanded.
Know what else was important besides that unbelievable save by Carter Hart on Wednesday night? The Flyers’ special teams.
Killing the full two-minute shorthanded disadvantage late in the second period was the difference in the Flyers’ 4-0 win.
New Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault is the most well-known addition behind the bench, but assistants Michel Therrien (who runs the power play) and Mike Yeo (penalty kill) deserve a couple stick taps.
The puck movement on the power play was crisp, leading to goals by Ivan Provorov and Kevin Hayes. The Flyers also killed nearly eight minutes of Devils power-play time, none bigger than a full two-man advantage late in the second period.
» READ MORE: Flyers 4, Devils 0 - box score
The Devils haven’t won a game this year, so the key to all this optimism will be what the Flyers do in the next week. New Jersey blew a four-goal lead in their opener and gave up seven goals at Buffalo in its second game.
The Flyers hit the road (yet again) for a trip to Western Canada, which will include a game against 3-0 Edmonton.
Still 80 games to go to determine if Carter Hart’s astounding stop of Taylor Hall was the save of the year. If not, can’t wait to see the one that’s better.
The Wells Fargo Center, which the night before was at the center of an international controversy for the ejection of two political protesters during a Sixers exhibition game, was awash in Flyers hysteria on Wednesday following Hart’s save on a 5-on-3 Devils power-play.
The Flyers had just been whistled for a delay-of-game penalty after Sean Couturier dumped the puck into the seats from his own zone. It was a sloppy play for somebody with his skill. But it got worse.
Kevin Hayes took the next faceoff and inexplicably played the puck with his glove, which was another delay of game. The Devils had a full two-man advantage when Hart electrified the crowd by sliding across his crease and denying Hall from the just below the right faceoff dot.
Hart is the first goalie who came through the Flyers system to start the home opener since Sergei Bobrovsky 10 years ago. The merry-go-round includes two by Ilya Bryzgalov, Steve Mason, Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott. (Note: corrected Bryz’s first name.)
Hart, 21, is the youngest Flyers goalie ever to record a shutout and the first to register a shutout in the first Wells Fargo Center game since Neuvirth in 2016.
Return of the Wayne Train
Wayne Simmonds had three shots on goal in a little over 15 minutes of mostly uneventful ice time in his return to the Wells Fargo Center.
Simmonds received a standing ovation early in the first period following a video montage of highlights from his eight seasons with the Flyers. Immediately after the cheering stopped, the fans playfully booed. Simmonds, who acknowledged prior to the game that he was somewhat angry with how his Flyers time ended, waved back at the crowd in appreciation.
Simmonds was sent to Nashville at the trade deadline last season for Ryan Hartman. Hartman was dealt to Minnesota over the summer for Tyler Pitlick, who was part of a disruptive fourth line Wednesday night for the Flyers.
Odds and ends
Never saw this before: Play was stopped in the second period when the puck became wedged in Robert Hagg’s visor. The Flyers defenseman wasn’t injured on the play, but there was plenty of confusion when everybody else on the ice couldn’t find it.
Couturier and Hayes made up for putting the Flyers on the two-man disadvantage by scoring 14 seconds apart at the start of the third period to give the Fightin’ Grittys a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Flyers players allowed rookies Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski to take the ice by themselves prior to the game before the veterans joined in. It’s one of the cooler NHL traditions and a nice gesture since their actual NHL debuts took place in the Czech Republic. “It was just an amazing feeling and a dream come true,” Bunnaman told 97.5 The Fanatic after the first intermission.
The Flyers have scored the first goal in each of their first two games. Last season, they were 21-6-5 when scoring first and 16-31-3 when allowing the first goal.
The last word
“It was awesome. The place was buzzing. It was electric in there. It’s nice to have my mom and dad and some family and friends here. They are probably more excited than I am about the goal to be honest, but that place was electric tonight. As long as we keep winning, I think it will be the same way.”
— Kevin Hayes, the prize acquisition of the offseason, who scored in his first true home game for the Flyers.