In the 2020-21 NHL regular season’s long-awaited opening game, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins decisively 6 to 3.
Philadelphia’s six goals came from six different players. James van Riemsdyk and Nolan Patrick provided the tallies in the opening period. In the middle frame, Joel Farabee provided the lone goal for Philadelphia. Finally, in period three, the Flyers scored three consecutive goals from Michael Raffl, Oskar Lindblom, and Kevin Hayes. Mark Jankowski, Sidney Crosby, and Brandon Tanev provided tallies for the Penguins.
Three separate Flyers experienced multi-point contests. Both Kevin Hayes (1 goal, 1 assist) and Erik Gustafsson (2 assists) recorded two points. Meanwhile, Joel Farabee (1 goal, 3 assists) kicked off his sophomore campaign with a bang, registering four points. In his first game in net, Carter Hart stopped 31 of 34 shots.
Flyers vs. Penguins: Three Takeaways
New-Look Powerplay Produces
After Philadelphia’s powerplay failed royally during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, changes needed to be made. In the first game of the new season, it appeared as though the man-advantage might translate into a strength for the team.
The Flyers capitalized on their first two power-play opportunities, registering goals in the same fashion. Farabee skated the puck towards the boards, passed the puck to Gustafsson, Gustafsson ripped a shot, and that shot deflected off a player in front. The first time, van Riemsdyk parked himself in front of the net, taking away Tristan Jarry’s sight of the puck, and got a piece of Gustafsson’s shot. On the second goal, it happened again. However, this time, Nolan Patrick got a piece of the puck and deflected it into the net.
Early signs of the Gustafsson acquisition paying off are a welcome sight. Before he took to the ice for Philadelphia, many expected his greatest contributions to the power play. After game one, it certainly appears to be the case. Van Riemsdyk also demonstrated where he is most effective, and the Flyers will look for him to continue producing in that area throughout the season.
Finally, nobody could have asked for a better player than Nolan Patrick to notch a goal on opening night. After missing all of last season, he made his presence known on Wednesday night and will look to build on that early momentum.
Flyers Maintain Control of Game
In hockey, like every other sport, momentum swings occur. Throughout Wednesday’s game, Pittsburgh two attempts to swing the momentum in their direction. However, each time they knotted the score back up, Philadelphia found a way to respond.
The Flyers possessed a response for everything the Penguins threw at them and never let them gain control. When it looked like the game was going to enter the third period tied up at two, Philadelphia recorded a late goal. When it appeared as though Pittsburgh was going to make a game out of it early in the third period, the Flyers responded quickly, regaining the lead and then piling on two more goals. It is that kind of play that will get the Flyers far this season. Opposing teams will throw obstacles at them. As long as Philadelphia responds and deflates those attempted momentum swings, they will succeed.
Farabee on Fire
No player experienced a better night than newly-numbered Joel Farabee. The second-year winger produced one goal, three assists and looked like a player ready to make some serious strides after a mediocre rookie campaign. His presence was felt throughout the game’s entirety, and he possessed a level of confidence that was not there in year one. Of course, we are only one game into the new season. Still, all signs currently point to a promising year for the young player.
Arguing with the result of Philadelphia’s first game of the year is a fool’s errand. Was it the cleanest game ever? Absolutely not, but what do you expect from the first game of a delayed season that once looked like it was never going to happen? Were there mistakes? You bet there was. If Carter Hart made that bonehead pass two years ago, we are talking about how he lost the Flyers the game. Still, Philadelphia came out and accomplished what they needed to and started looking really good as the game progressed. Furthermore, this team is fun to watch. What they accomplished on the ice Wednesday night makes you want to watch the next game.
Speaking of the next game, Philadelphia will square off against the Penguins again on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM ET.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire