Flyers

Flyers-Capitals observations: 3-goal 2nd sparks home-opening rout

Flyers-Capitals observations: 3-goal 2nd sparks home-opening rout

BOX SCORE

The Flyers made clear Saturday it's a new season.

With the Washington Capitals in town for the 2017-18 home opener, the Flyers put an 8-2 whipping on the back-to-back Presidents' Trophy-winning bunch.

A lively Wells Fargo Center witnessed a relentless brand of offensive hockey that never let up, and it wasn't from the visiting Capitals, who had hung a pair of defeats like this on the Flyers last season.

This time, this season, the Flyers showed they're capable of dishing it out, too.

Sean Couturier (two goals, one assist), Claude Giroux (two goals, two assists), Shayne Gostisbehere (three assists), Scott Laughton (two goals), Jakub Voracek (three assists) and Wayne Simmonds (one goal, one assist) all produced multipoint efforts as the Flyers moved to 3-2-0 to commence a five-game homestand.

Impressively, the last time the Flyers scored eight or more goals in a home opener was 1982, when they tallied nine.

The Capitals, playing the second game of a back-to-back set, dropped to 3-2-1.

This marked the first meeting of a four-game season series between the Metropolitan Division teams.

Now, let's get into some observations:

• Voracek looked filthy with the puck in creating a point-blank chance for Simmonds on a second-period power play as the Flyers snared a 3-1 lead. Give Voracek some space with a head of steam, and he'll make plays.

Voracek has nine assists through five games and was buzzing Saturday. Not long after Simmonds' goal, he made a stunning fake for separation and another good look, this one to Laughton, who missed wide. No problem, though, because the Flyers scored moments later when Giroux deflected home his first of the game off a Couturier pass. The first line of Giroux, Couturier and Voracek was thoroughly dominant, and when it is, the Flyers will be tough outs.

• If Giroux has lost a step at all, his vision, however, hasn't gone anywhere. The Flyers' game-opening goal at 7:18 of the first period all started with Giroux making a magnificent cross-ice pass to a streaking Voracek, who found Couturier opposite in front. Couturier's first shot didn't go but he was able to corral the rebound and put it home. None of it happens without an igniter from Giroux, who is one assist shy of 400 for his career. In the third period, Couturier and Giroux each tacked on their second tallies as the rout went into high gear.

There's no arguing the Flyers' big three came up small against this Capitals team last season. Giroux, Simmonds and Voracek combined for two points in four matchups with Washington. The trio was a different animal Saturday, delivering three goals and six assists for nine points. What an answer in the home opener.

• Weal really got after it late in the second period to help extend the Flyers' lead to 5-2. He maneuvered his way into the offensive zone with the puck and then made a nice hesitation to set up Valtteri Filppula's third goal of the season.

Weal is off to a promising start and that goal was important because it came after the Capitals made it a 4-2 game a little less than seven minutes prior.

• Mr. Laughton, take a bow. The rejuvenated fourth-liner netted a pair of goals. Before Saturday, Laughton hadn't scored an NHL goal since April 10, 2016. And good for him, because he worked hard at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley last season and seems to have found himself in 2017-18, adopting his new role.

He made a heady play near the end of the first period by skating hard, attacking the puck carrier and forcing a turnover to score a shorthanded goal, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead. It was eerily similar to a certain goal in the past …

• Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom entered as the NHL's early leaders with 10 points apiece. They combined for just one goal and one assist.

• Brian Elliott was solid in net with 21 saves. Capitals backup goalie Philipp Grubauer was lit up and still made 29 saves. The Flyers were all over him.

• The Flyers held a touching moment of silence for those affected by the deadly shooting in Las Vegas earlier this month. "Vegas Strong" flashed across the ice and chants of "U-S-A" broke out once the moment of silence concluded. Also, all proceeds from the Flyers' 50/50 raffle held throughout the Wells Fargo Center are benefiting victim relief efforts. Beautiful job by the Flyers and fans.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice Monday and then host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday (7 p.m./NBCSP) for Game 2 of the five-game homestand.

Flyers call up budding wing prospect

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Flyers call up budding wing prospect

In somewhat of a surprise move, the Flyers have recalled Oskar Lindblom from Lehigh Valley and have activated goaltender Anthony Stolarz from the injured, non-roster list. 

Lindblom joins the Flyers after failing to make the 23-man roster out of training camp. After a slow start to the season, Lindblom has posted 16 goals and 34 points through 54 games with the Phantoms. 

If head coach Dave Hakstol elects to utilize Lindblom for Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, he would bring some much-needed speed and a solid two-way presence to Valtteri Filppula’s line. An AHL All-Star, Lindblom has also proven to be a streaky scorer. He’s currently on a three-game goal streak and back in December he posted five goals over a six-game stretch (see Future Flyers Report).

Stolarz joins the Phantoms after spending the entire season recovering from offseason surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee. The 6-foot-6 netminder started skating for the first time this month and just two weeks ago he took shots from defenseman Sam Morin prior to the Flyers' practice at the SkateZone in Voorhees, New Jersey.

With Alex Lyon now with the Flyers for the foreseeable future, Stolarz joins goaltenders John Muse and Dustin Tokarski in Lehigh Valley. 

As of Monday night, the Flyers still haven’t announced a timetable in regards to Michal Neuvirth, who suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday’s game against the Rangers. If Neuvirth is unavailable Tuesday, in all likelihood, Tokarski would be promoted from Lehigh Valley to back up Lyon.

Doing what he does best, Oskar Lindblom catching fire

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Doing what he does best, Oskar Lindblom catching fire

Before this week begins, it's time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers' prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Flyers fans can't wait to see this at the NHL level.

Last weekend, Lindblom potted a goal in three straight games for the Phantoms, giving him 16 on the season through 54 contests. All three tallies came within close range as the Swedish winger's scoring IQ continues to grow during his first AHL season.

Since going scoreless in his first six games, the 2014 fifth-round pick hasn't gone more than four straight games without a point.

Lindblom surprised many with his vast development leading up to the 2017-18 season. While some were disappointed he didn't make the Flyers' roster out of training camp, a 20-goal campaign at Lehigh Valley will be a nice accomplishment along his path to Philly.

Travis Sanheim, D, 21, 6-4/199, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Just how much of a difference-maker is Sanheim? The Phantoms are 9-1-2 since the 2014 first-round pick joined them after he was sent down by the Flyers.

Over Lehigh Valley's 3-0-1 week, Sanheim extended his point streak to seven games with five more assists, putting him at 12 helpers in as many games.

Seeing plenty of minutes and responsibility, Sanheim has collected 13 points to go with a plus-11 rating.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, 21, 5-11/187, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Aube-Kubel is another Phantom worth noting here.

The 2014 second-round pick put up five points (one goal, four assists) in four games last week, continuing his surge in Year 2 of his AHL development. He now has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last 12 games.

After a feeling-out process last season, Aube-Kubel is coming on strong in 2017-18, as he's a plus-20 and third on Lehigh Valley with 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists).

Quick hits
• Ho-hum for Morgan Frost, who had a six-point week through three games. At 94 points, Frost is six away from 100, while his plus-54 rating remains best in the OHL.

Here's a glimpse into his vision and skill:

• Goalie Carter Hart picked up a win and a shootout loss over the weekend. In total, he made 60 saves on 65 shots.

Maksim Sushko tallied two goals (including this one below) and two assists through three games last week. A 2017 fourth-round pick, the 19-year-old has 48 points in 47 games for Owen Sound.

• Wingers Isaac Ratcliffe and Matthew Strome, also 2017 draft picks, recorded three points each in a pair of games.

• Playing for the first time since Jan. 31, German Rubtsov returned from an undisclosed injury to notch an assist over three games last week. The Flyers' 2016 first-round pick has 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 27 games for Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

• In Michigan's two-game sweep of top-ranked Notre Dame, Cooper Marody tacked on three more assists, giving him 26 overall, which is tied for most in the Big Ten.

Here's his primary helper from Sunday's 1-0 win:

Anthony Salinitri pushed his point streak to seven games with an assist Friday and a goal Saturday. The 2016 sixth-round pick has 25 goals and 25 assists in 56 games.

• During the four-game week for the Phantoms, Mike Vecchione scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season, while adding an assist.

Philippe Myers had an assist Tuesday for his first point since Jan. 26, while Samuel Morin (undisclosed injury), who hasn't played since Jan. 20, remains out.