The Flyers need to improve their even-strength play if they are going to sweep their season-opening, two-game series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, coach Alain Vigneault hinted after Thursday’s practice.
The teams, coming off the Flyers’ 6-3 win Wednesday, will meet Friday at the Wells Fargo Center at 7 p.m.
“After watching the game and talking with my staff, there is no doubt that I feel we can be better five-on-five,” Vigneault said after practice Thursday in Voorhees. “We did finish on some of our opportunities, but we spent more time than we needed to in our zone. Mind you, I don’t want to take anything away from [the Penguins]. They are a real strong team with great one-on-one players and great players that can do a lot of things off the rush.”
In five-on-five situations coming back into the defensive end and making the right plays to exit the zone, ”we need to be better,” Vigneault said. “There is no doubt they played a real strong game five-on-five and we are going to need to be better.”
The Penguins had a territorial advantage in the first 40 minutes, but the opportunistic Flyers were the better team in the third period. Pittsburgh outshot the Flyers, 34-25.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said the final score was misleading.
“I thought there was a lot to like about our game,” he said. “We had periods of the game where we carried the play. The types of breakdowns that we had resulted in some high-quality scoring chances against. We’ve got to do a better job so that we minimize some of those catastrophic-type scenarios.”
The Flyers assigned three prospects who were playing for teams in Europe to the AHL’s Phantoms: right wingers David Kase (Czech Republic) and Maksim Sushko (Russia), and defenseman Linus Hogberg (Sweden).
Kase had 25 points in 27 games for Karlovy Vary, Sushko had five points in 30 games for Minsk Dynamo, and Hogberg had 12 points and a minus-4 rating in 27 games for Vita Hasten.
Hogberg is entering his first season in North America, while Kase and Sushko are returning to the Phantoms. The AHL hopes to start its season on Feb. 5.
As expected, Carter Hart will start again on Friday. Hart played well except for a failed clear from behind the net that Sidney Crosby converted into a power-play goal, knocking the puck into an empty net. Hart said he would like a redo on that play, adding: “I think he got a little lucky, but he is also one of the best players in the world.” ... Joel Farabee became the second player in Flyers history to register four points in a season opener. The other: Ray Allison, according to the NHL. ... Shayne Gostisbehere remained a part of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol and he did not practice Thursday.