Quick hits from Tuesday’s convincing win over the Panthers
1 Patrick drops another hint: At first glance, it seemed as if Nolan Patrick had missed a juicy rebound off Travis Konecny’s semi-breakaway that resulted in the fourth goal of Tuesday’s 5-1 rout of Florida. A replay though, showed you exactly why the Flyers brass believe this 19-year-old is both ready for the NHL, and is going to be special player in it.
With a move Dwyane Wade would like, Patrick collected Konecny’s rebound and, rather than firing it quickly back at the net, dropped it a few feet behind him for Dale Weise. Using Patrick as a ecliptic screen, Weise made one quick move and drilled it to a wide-open side of the net for his first goal of the season.
2 No hints are needed to appreciate Shayne Gostisbehere’s creativity. But his fake-the-frisbee move on Vincent Trocheck to set up his own second-period goal was a new twist. As Trocheck swooped into the Flyers zone, Ghost feigned as if he was going to return Robert Hagg’s pass, then charged past Trocheck up ice. With the Panthers center frantically chasing to get back into the play, Ghost fed Wayne Simmonds along the boards, received it back in full stride, and wristed a shot past Luongo with Jordan Weal boxing out at the doorstep.
The defensive-minded Hagg had the first points of his NHL career. Appropriately, by making the fundamentally correct if unspectacular play in his own zone.
3 Slow starts. In both home games this young season, the Flyers have started slowly. Against a tired and undermanned Washington team in Saturday night’s home opener, the Flyers recorded just three shots in the game’s first seven minutes.
Last night, against a young Florida team whose first line had been disassembled just the day before by first-year coach Bob Boughner in response to a combined minus-11 it had recorded over the team’s first four games, the Flyers recorded just one shot over the first seven minutes, and spent much of that time bottled up in their own zone.
You may recall this was an annoying characteristic of last year’s uneven team. The Flyers fell behind in 48 of their 82 games, and were 8-16-3 when trailing after a period. (They were 5-22-2 when trailing after two.) The difference so far is that lull has not put them behind on the scoreboard in either game, which frequently occurred last season. In fact, save falling behind Nashville 3-0, the Flyers have emerged the first period this season unscathed – including last night.
4 The goaltending has been a pleasant surprise… so far. Michal Neuvirth gave us one of those out-of-body performances last night, stopping 40 Panthers shots and defusing their occasional cycles with well-timed freezes. It’s also been encouraging how the Flyers, despite their infusion of youth, have finished off the last two games. They pushed a 5-2 lead to 8-2 by dominating the Capitals Saturday night. Killing off their third power play to start the third period and a dubious two-man disadvantage late, they outskated the visitors Tuesday night, and did a nice job at limiting most of their 39 shots to the wide parcels of their zone.
5 The Flyers were 1-for-4 on the power play but… oh my. The crisp puck movement, the pressure from both units and particularly the first one, has been breathtaking. Yes, it’s early in the season and there are likely to be dead zones, but the team’s depth was once again evident on the scoresheet last night. Three of the four lines were represented, and Patrick, who dominated the faceoff circle and just missed on another choice scoring opportunity, looked more comfortable than he had in any previous game.