3 Takeaways from Flyers Loss Against Canucks

The Flyers dropped their season opener to the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 in a shootout on Friday night. They earned one point with a late rally on goals by Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux to tie the game 4-4 and send it past regulation. However, Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller scored on Carter Hart to give the Canucks a shootout victory. It was Philadelphia’s first loss in a season-opener since October 2015.

Carter Hart – The Key to the Flyers Success

Hart saved 35 of the 39 shots he faced. It wasn’t his sharpest overall effort. The Flyers controlled the pace of play throughout the first period, and the Canucks went to the locker room at the first intermission with only five shots. When the pressure picked up during the second period, Hart allowed four goals on 13 shots. Vancouver’s fourth goal came on a sloppy play in which he could’ve easily covered a loose puck in his crease. 

Head coach Alain Vigneault remained optimistic when asked about Hart. He referred to “two unfortunate breaks” that ended up in the back of the net and affected his young goaltender’s statistics. Hart is the Flyers’ key to a rebound effort in 2021-22. He will need to withstand flurries of pressure at some points when the Flyers aren’t at their best in front of him. He did not do that when the Canucks went on the attack during the second period, but he will have more than enough opportunities to correct that moving forward.

Flyers Penalty Kill Struggles

The Flyers allowed two power-play goals in four chances, including a goal on a 5-on-3. A delay of game penalty by Ivan Provorov and a bench minor for too many men were unforced errors that could’ve been avoided with stronger awareness. All four minors occurred during the second period. The time spent with the man advantage helped turn the tide of the game in favor of the Canucks. In 2020-21, the Flyers ranked 30th in the NHL on the penalty kill (PK). It was a major concern entering the opener, and it is an area that will need to improve moving forward if they hope to compete for a playoff spot.

Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers
Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

When asked during his post-game press conference about his team’s struggles on the PK, Vigneault stressed the importance of staying out of the penalty box, to begin with. He kept a calm demeanor and noted that one of the power-play goals resulted from an unlucky bounce off the back wall that ended up in the net. 

Related: Philadelphia Flyers 2021-22 Season Preview Section

Cam Atkinson was a bit harsher on the PK unit. He took responsibility and said that the PK could’ve come up with a stop to bail out the players who committed the infractions. His comments reflected a tone of accountability and a sense of togetherness. He also sprung Nate Thompson on a shorthanded breakaway on Vancouver’s second power play. He is tied for the NHL lead in shorthanded goals over the past five seasons, and he will play significant shorthanded minutes in 2021-22.

Flyers Playing with Something to Prove

The Flyers pushed the narrative that they would return with “something to prove” this season after a disastrous outcome in 2020-21. They opened the season in front of an electric home crowd on Friday. When they faced a 4-2 hole late in the third period, they showed some resilience. They scored twice with their goalie pulled and earned their first point of the season on a night when puck luck didn’t fall in their favor. 

During a stoppage with 1:32 left in regulation, the crowd rose to their feet and let out deafening cheers. The Flyers attacked the net with tremendous energy right off the ensuing faceoff and tied the game on Giroux’s goal just 20 seconds later. 

Giroux spoke about the energy the fans provided in the building. 

“Even in the warmups, all the music was going. The fans were there. You could see the excitement.”

-Claude Giroux

He added that a crowd at regular capacity was a refreshing sight after the challenges of last season and how the team “responded at the end” in part due to the energy of the fans. 

He also spoke optimistically about the team’s initial performance and discussed the need to develop chemistry over time. Despite the shootout loss, the long-time Flyers captain remains optimistic after scoring a tying goal with just over a minute remaining in regulation. Fans should share his sentiment through one of 82.

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