Flyers 5: Takeaways from Wednesday’s Flyers-Bruins Game
It’s no secret that the Boston Bruins really had the Flyers number a season ago. So when the Bruins happened to be the third game on the schedule for the Flyers in the 2021-22 season, it was going to certainly be a measuring stick type of game. This was a first chance to really show if some of the offseason additions made that much of a difference.
Well, the dividends that are being paid from several new faces are very clear. Three of those newcomers had multiple points and helped the Flyers get off to their best scoring start through three games since 1983-84 with another six-goal outburst.
Here are five takeaways from the Flyers 6-3 win over the Bruins.
1. Another FAB Performance
It’s being referred to as the FAB line. It’s the trio of Joel Farabee, Cam Atkinson and Derick Brassard that has seemingly come into the season and displayed instant chemistry.
The production continues to pile up for this line. Atkinson opened the scoring, then had the game-winning goal in the third. Farabee tallied on the power play late in the first. Brassard had another multi-point game with a pair of assists. On the season, Atkinson now has three goals and four points. Brassard has a goal and five points. Farabee has three goals and six points.
Farabee showed signs of being this player last season with a 20-goal season in 55 games. But when he was given a contract extension before the offseason was up and with one year still remaining on his entry-level deal, that was a bet on the player to be able to replicate his performance. At this rate, he’ll shatter it.
Atkinson was one of the more profiled acquisitions of the offseason given his scoring prowess in previous seasons and the cost to acquire him. The Flyers traded away a forward in Jake Voracek with 10 years of time in Philadelphia. It was a clear changing of the guard. Atkinson has fit right in, and as expected, his energy and drive is contagious. It’s no surprise that he has not only scored, but that it has rubbed off on his linemates.
But perhaps the most notable part of this trio is Brassard. For one, it was a question whether Brassard could fill in as a second-line center with Kevin Hayes out of the lineup. Additionally, when you consider when Brassard was signed and for how much, it’s a deal that is already paying off in a huge way.
Brassard was brought in on a one-year deal worth $825,000 on Aug. 25, just weeks before the start of training camp. He was almost an afterthought with everything else that happened in the offseason, but he’s been right there at the top of the production early this season.
2. Striking on Special Teams
Speaking of that trio, they were on the ice as part of the second power-play unit late in the first period. That’s when Farabee struck for his third goal of the season in the final seconds of the period, putting home a loose puck off a blocked shot with 8.9 seconds remaining in the first.
The timing of the goal was important in two ways. It gave the Flyers the lead back before the end of the period, but it also put the Flyers ahead in the special teams battle. The Flyers had killed off a penalty earlier in the period and now had cashed in on their opportunity.
For the rest of the game, no penalties were called until a roughing minor on Brandon Carlo in the final 2:17 of the third, which ended early as well with an empty-net power-play goal by Sean Couturier.
Against a team like the Bruins, who possess a lethal top unit, you don’t even want to be in position to win the special teams battle by somehow outscoring them. You want to avoid giving them any opportunities at all. The Flyers allowed the one power play in the first and stayed out of the box the rest of the way. That’s a formula for success against the Bruins.
3. Jones’ Debut
There was a lot made of the Martin Jones signing and his performances over the last three seasons in San Jose. There was more made of it when he had a subpar preseason debut and seemed to be in goal for each of the Flyers most difficult uphill battles in the preseason in terms of roster disparity.
Jones had a strong debut in the regular season on Wednesday night. While he did allow three goals, he was rather helpless on each and stopped 37 shots in the process as well, at times helping to keep the Flyers in the game.
This included stopping all 12 shots he faced in the third period. Much like Carter Hart in Friday’s opener, the team locked things down in the third. There may have been opportunities, but the margin on the scoreboard remained the same. Through three games this season, the Flyers have not allowed a third-period goal.
It was noticeable that Jones was sharp from the beginning and it was needed. As in Monday’s game, Boston got out to an early shot advantage on the Flyers, leading 7-1 at the time the Flyers took the lead in the first. There wasn’t a spectacular stop for Jones like Hart had on Monday, but there didn’t need to be. Everything was in front of Jones and he was able to stay square and solid.
Overall, it was a very good first impression for Jones, who will likely play next when the Flyers hit the road for their Western Canada trip next week.
It was also a debut for Rasmus Ristolainen, and while he didn’t have a poor night by any means, he was on the ice for two goals against, finishing the game as a minus-1. He did have two shots, two hits, and two blocked shots in 18:37 of ice time as well.
On Boston’s second goal, Ristolainen failed to get the puck deep after keeping it in the offensive zone. Then he got caught in a line change, ultimately staying on the ice as the Flyers briefly had too many men, but by then was beaten by Taylor Hall, who scored on the breakaway.
Ristolainen was also on the ice for Brad Marchand’s tying goal on a rebound, which came as the result of an untimely icing that allowed the Bruins to mismatch by placing their top line on the ice with the Flyers fourth line on the ice.
After the game, Ristolainen focused on some of the mistakes he made.
“Some plays I could have done better, and you can feel it a little bit when you don’t play,” Ristolainen said. “I made a pretty bad play there and I was trying to change but I wasn’t able to. Their guy got away and put it in. We played pretty good in front of our net, besides the one goal, which I was on the ice and made a bad play.”
Ristolainen is an active defenseman who certainly likes to exercise the physical part of his play – and did early with a heavy hit on Charlie Coyle – but will have some hiccups. While the hope is that those will happen with less frequency as he plays more, the accountability that he showed is certainly nice to see.
5. Opportunity Strikes
The Flyers did manage to score six goals again for the second straight game, but they certainly took advantage of a lot of opportunities presented to them.
Atkinson’s first goal came on a two-on-one after a nice outlet by Brassard, at a time when the Flyers had just survived a prolonged shift in their own zone moments earlier with Boston’s top line on the ice. It was a goal reminiscent of the team from two seasons ago, that would sometimes not be at their best early, then get an opportunity and strike.
The Flyers third goal from Scott Laughton was the result of a set play and a big rebound back into the slot. Atkinson’s second in the opening minute of the third was set up after Farabee made a play to intercept a pass in the neutral zone. Travis Konecny’s goal that essentially iced the game came after Couturier got possession following a misplay of the puck by Mike Reilly.
It seemed like every opportunity the Flyers got, they found a way to put it into the net.
If Atkinson’s first goal set the tone during the first period, that the Flyers had weathered an early storm against and scored first, Konecny’s goal may have been the most important. For so much of the game, the Flyers were dealing with the typical wave of pressure the Bruins bring. They got the goaltending. They were there to provide support when needed to get a puck out of danger for a few fleeting seconds.
And back to Konecny’s goal...what a shot. That looked like the Travis Konecny the Flyers had two seasons ago that was able to basically do whatever he wanted when he wanted.
Konecny’s third goal in three games also made some history. Along with Farabee and Atkinson, the trio became the first in Flyers history since Bill Barber, Brian Propp, and Darryl Sittler to have three or more goals through the team’s first three games in a season since 1982-83.
Regardless of how the game went and how much the Bruins were able to press at times, the Flyers did the job at hand and took advantage of their chances. It gave them an early win this season that shows they can certainly play against a team like Boston. They get another similar challenge on Saturday night to close out the homestand with Florida coming to town.