Flyers-Golden Knights Observations: Finally Finishing
In their previous two games, the Flyers had 91 shots on goal and managed to score just four times. It brought into question the team’s ability to finish.
They matched the total from the previous two games in the second period alone. And it came in a period where they were out-shot, 18-13, one that Alain Vigneault thought was actually one of their worst in the last few games.
“We had some puck luck in the second. We found a way to score four and we got outstanding goaltending,” Vigneault said. “In my mind that could have been our least effective period in the last eight, but we found a way to win that period 4-0. Sometimes it works out that way, but it’s an important win for our group.”
While the Flyers did need to get a solid goaltending performance to keep the game in their favor, they also were able to keep up with the pace of the Vegas Golden Knights on their way to a solid win that snapped a four-game losing streak.
Here are more observations from Monday’s 6-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
The game story looks a lot different if not for Brian Elliott. The Flyers got off to an early lead, but through the better part of the first 25 minutes, allowed the better quality scoring chances.
Elliott had one shot from Reilly Smith ring off the post. He stoned Jonathan Marchessault from the slot. He stopped Smith again breaking in with speed from the wing. He made several stops in tight in a pair of netmouth scrambles.
This was the second-highest shot total allowed by the Flyers so far this season, a total of 35 shots. Elliott was already up to 25 saves through two periods and had a comfortable lead as a result, but the score could have been a lot different by that point. You even got the sense when Vegas finally got on the board with a 5-on-3 power-play goal by Marchessault that another quick goal or two would make this a game again quickly and that the Flyers’ once comfortable lead would be far from it at that point.
But Elliott remained sharp and finished the job. After a couple of rough nights for Carter Hart, at least by save percentage, this was a solid showing from the veteran netminder.
Konecny Keeps Scoring
Was it really a surprise to see Travis Konecny in the middle of the scoring again. A well-placed shot to the glove side of Oskar Dansk gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 4:15. It was Konecny’s fourth goal of the season in just the seventh game.
With a pair of points, the goal and an assist, Konecny is up to 10 points and his production tops the team. So far this season, he has been the Flyers best player.
Konecny is obviously noticeable on the nights when he scores a goal or helps set one up. But even on the nights when things have not been as great on the scoreboard, Konecny is always up on the play, always moving his feet, always looking to make something happen.
He is a multi-faceted player with many different layers to his game. You can see the sharp-shooting ability. You have seen the vision and passing ability, as he displayed on Oskar Lindblom’s game-tying goal in Vancouver. You have seen the edge to his game and the feisty side he brings when he is in the face of the opposition, chirping away.
There really has not been a weakness to his game so far, and he is one of the few Flyers who can claim to that.
The Flyers held a 1-0 lead through two periods in the home opener against the Devils before two quick goals in the third broke the game open. It was deja vu against the Golden Knights at the six-minute mark of the second.
Kevin Hayes tucked in a wraparound and 44 seconds later, Ivan Provorov took a shot that was deflected in and credited to Michael Raffl, though Raffl said after the game he didn’t touch it. Just like that, a 1-0 game turned to 3-0.
The Flyers didn’t stop there with quick strikes. They got two more goals in the period in 55 seconds. The first came on the power play on a cross-ice pass from Sean Couturier to Matt Niskanen. With Vegas trying to get aggressive and taking risks to get back into the game, they allowed a two-on-one to Lindblom and Raffl that Lindblom finished off.
For a team that struggled to get the puck in the net for the previous two games, a couple of occasions where the goals came in bunches was welcomed.
Effective Fourth Line
One of the Flyers more effective lines in Monday’s win was the fourth line that included Raffl, who led the way with a three-point night. Chris Stewart had an assist. Mikhail Vorobyev had an assist as well. In a few cases, Raffl ended up on the ice with members of other lines, as he did on Lindblom’s goal.
As a whole, the entire line was very effective in limited time, certainly all you can ask of your fourth line.
All eyes were on 19-year-old Joel Farabee in his first NHL game and while he was not able to get on the scoresheet, he did show the elements of his game that should keep him around for a long time.
Farabee finished with three shots on goal and looked very much like he did in the preseason, well-adjusted to the speed of the game and capable of keeping up with top players.
“It was pretty much what I was expecting,” Farabee said. “Obviously there’s little small differences here and there but the other day I thought I was pretty ready for the game so as I keep going here we’ll get more and more comfortable and take it day by day.”
“You can tell that he is a smart player. Everybody is talking about his puck skills and what he can do offensively, but defensively he seems like he is a very smart player,” Vigneault said. “I thought that line tonight with Haysy and Scott [Laughton] played extremely well at both ends of the ice and got some good looks and Haysy was able to find the back of the night. It was a good night for him, I think he can build off of. He played that full 200-foot game that I know he can play.”
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.