The Flyers dominated the Seattle Kraken in their first ever game in Philadelphia with a 6-1 blowout victory on Monday night. They spoiled the homecoming of their former coach Dave Hakstol in his first game back at the Wells Fargo Center as a visiting head coach since being fired in December 2018. The Flyers got out to a 3-0 lead in the first period and never let up. They chased Seattle goaltender Philipp Grubauer and pumped up the home crowd with two fighting majors against a Kraken team that unsuccessfully tried to take liberties in a physical game.
Flyers Driven by Konecny
Travis Konecny entered the season on a head-scratching dry spell. After leading the Flyers with 24 goals in 66 games in a breakout 2019-20 campaign, he failed to score a goal in 16 games in the Toronto bubble. He followed up with an underwhelming 11-goal season in 2020-21. He also provided questionable play defensively.
Konecny got on the scoresheet in the season opener against the Vancouver Canucks with a late goal that put the Flyers within one. He showed the type of energy and aggression that the team sorely missed last season. Claude Giroux tied the game just a minute later. Philadelphia earned one point in a game that look lost with just a few minutes left to play.
Konecny was the best player on the ice Monday night. He set up Giroux for a one-timer in the Kraken slot to open the scoring just before the midway point of the first period. He followed it up by slamming home his own rebound less than three minutes later. Despite the comfortable early lead, Konecny kept his foot on the gas. He drove play and developed scoring chances throughout the game. He rang another shot off the crossbar on a four-on-four opportunity late in the second period.
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After the game, head coach Alain Vigneault brought up “the physicality he’s shown in the first two games” as a strength he’s noticed from Konecny. The lack of physicality was a problem among the forwards last season, and it contributed to Vigneault’s decision to scratch the 24-year-old winger in January 2021. Consistent production from Konecny will be a major key to the Flyers success in 2021-22, especially early in the season while the forward depth is tested by injuries.
The Carter Hart Report
Flyers fans worried about two fluky goals allowed by goaltender Carter Hart during Friday night’s season opener. They can settle their concerns for at least one night. Hart stopped 23 of the 24 shots he faced against the Kraken. The only goal he allowed came immediately following a missed too-many men call that should’ve stopped the play dead.
Although he didn’t see a ton of traffic in the blowout victory, he made the most important play of the game early when he stoned Seattle’s Jordan Ebele with a wide open net. Hart referred to a move of “desperation to try to get over there” and stop the shot. The game was still scoreless at that point in the first period, and the highlight-reel save sparked momentum for the Flyers.
Giroux praised his goaltender when asked about the importance of Hart’s save early in the game.
“Carter made some huge saves for us and gave us momentum… You saw the bench. Guys got a little bit more motivated.”-Claude Giroux
Hart will be scrutinized endlessly this season. His performance against the Canucks wasn’t his best, but he recovered with a great effort between the pipes on Monday. He was the named the first star of the game.
Crushing the Kraken, Hakstol
The Kraken are the talk of the NHL. The novelty of the expansion franchise and the lure of their new jerseys seems like a shiny new toy for hockey fans. However, the mystery surrounding hockey’s newest team played no factor in Philadelphia on Monday night. The Flyers crushed their former coach in a dominant effort in the only ever meeting between the two teams. They came out with a strong first period and took a 3-0 lead early. They defended each other with a pack mentality when veterans Nate Thompson and Nick Seeler dropped the gloves. Most importantly, they picked up their first victory of the 2021-22 season.
Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.