It was only the first week of the 2020-21 season, but the Philadelphia Flyers made an impressive first impression. They swept their opening two-game home series with eye-raising 6-3 and 5-2 victories over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.
The pair of lopsided outcomes on Wednesday and Friday was the result of excellent performances from players up and down the lineup. Consider, every forward registered at least a point, eight different players potted a goal, and all but two players enter the second week with a plus/minus rating of zero or above.
However, some players stood out more than others. And, there were even a few players who had a week they’d rather forget – although there weren’t many who fit in this category.
This is the space where each week, we will examine and decide which players belong in the former and the latter.
Welcome to the first weekly Who’s Hot and Who’s Not feature.
Don’t expect to find the same number of players on each list each week. The number of players on each list will all be determined by their performance.
For example, if the Flyers go 4-0 and record a couple of shutouts one week, you can likely expect to see four-to-six players on the hot list and no one on the not list. Or, should the Flyers finish a week without a win, there might be one player on the hot list and four or five on the not.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
If there was one player who needed a strong start, it was Travis Konecny. The winger matched his career-high with 24 goals when the 2019-20 season was paused in March due to the pandemic. However, he failed to score a goal in the three play-in games or the first and second rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Konecny brushed off the 1,000-pound gorilla in the second game by scoring three goals. It was the first hat trick of his career. He tallied the first two goals of the game and then added a critical insurance goal late in the third to give the Flyers a 4-2 cushion.
No surprise here, right? Carter Hart began his second full season right where he left off in the late summer – sizzling.
He made 31 saves in each game and was clearly the difference on Friday when the 22-year-old budding star was the sole reason the Flyers began the third period with a 3-2 lead. He routinely bailed out his teammates in the second period when the Penguins had breakaways, odd-man rushes, and too many good looks against a leaky defense.
He allowed two relatively soft goals 32 seconds apart in the first period, but otherwise, Hart was the best player on the ice between both teams in each game.
The season could not have started any better for the second-year forward. Joel Farabee scored a goal and had three assists to become the 10th different Flyers in franchise history to record four points or more in a game before turning 21 years old, according to NHL Stats and Information. Nolan Patrick was the last player to accomplish the feat on Jan. 14, 2019, when he had two goals and two assists.
Farabee fell back to earth in the second game when he didn’t register a point or a shot and was a minus-1. The 2018 first-round draft pick is looking to have a breakout season after notching eight goals and 13 assists in 52 games last season.
Shayne Gostisbehere was hoping to get off to a good and healthy start after an injury-plagued 2019-20 season. However, his plans hit a snag when he was listed as “unfit to play” early last week. The league later announced Gostisbehere was unavailable for both games because he was placed in COVID protocol.
The 27-year-old defenseman had a solid training camp and spent the last few days of it playing next to Ivan Provorov on the first pairing. Plus, he could have joined the second power-play unit. Now, Gostisbehere will need to work himself back into shape and crack the lineup once he is cleared to return.
All and all, Jakub Voracek had a decent week on the ice. After registering a minus-2 rating and failing to grace on the score sheet in the opener, Voracek bounced back on Friday with a strong effort. He looked more comfortable in the second game, especially when he was weaving passes through traffic to set up two goals, including one on the power play.
His appearance on this list probably has more to do with what happened after the game. Voracek cursed at a reporter during a post-game press conference. While it is not a big deal in the grand scheme, and Voracek has been known to drop some colorful language during interviews in the past, the f-bomb and tongue-lashing didn’t look good. It was reported by various media sources that the NHL has reached out to him about his conduct.
I have over 10 years of experience covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The South Jersey Times/nj.com and the Philadelphia Metro. Throughout the past decade, I have covered regular season, playoff, and outdoor games, and I have interviewed the best players in the NHL to guys on the fourth line and front office personnel. My coverage includes a balanced, insightful, and objective perspective, and my stories range from being analytical, opinionated, and even a little fun.