LAS VEGAS — The Flyers seem to truly enjoy starting their season miles from home.
For the third straight year, the Flyers won their opener on the road against a Western Conference opponent.
Wayne Simmonds scored twice in the Flyers’ 5-2 win over the Golden Knights. He now has five goals in his last two season openers after recording a hat trick last season in San Jose.
Here are my observations from T-Mobile Arena:
1. You always expect the home team to come out in its opener and set an early pace, feeding off the energy of the crowd. However, the Flyers did a good job of neutralizing that momentum. It also helped that the Knights rang a shot off the crossbar in the opening four minutes.
2. It was evident that the Flyers didn’t want to sit back and just watch the Golden Knights utilize their up-tempo style that can bury opponents. Instead, the Flyers jumped at the chance to create their own speed, create rushes off turnovers and stretch passes when the opportunity presented itself.
3. What impressed me most regarding Oskar Lindblom’s goal to tie the game at 1-1 was how he patiently waited for a shooting lane to open up after Marc-Andre Fleury committed and left his skates. Instead of trying to force a shot, Lindblom simply backhanded a puck parallel to the goal line as it appeared to catch a skate and crossed the line.
4. Brian Elliott didn’t play in the two games against the Golden Knights last season, and I was interested to see how the Flyers' goaltender would handle their strategy of creating open shots with cross-ice passes that would force him to move laterally. The Flyers' netminder had some real testers in the second period, but Elliott stood his ground and has now turned in a couple of solid efforts if you include the preseason finale.
5. After Simmonds scored on the power play just 2:58 into the second period, it appeared that the Knights got away from playing structured hockey, couldn’t recover and had no pushback until Fleury was lifted for backup Malcolm Subban. The Knights didn’t have much puck luck with a handful of shots that rang off the crossbar and the post.
6. Breakdown of Flyers goals: one for the No. 1 power-play unit, two for the second line, one for the third line and one for the fourth line. As much as this Flyers team has been praised for its scoring depth and balanced lines, it’s a good sign to see others step up when the top line is held in check.
7. The Golden Knights could have seized some momentum early in the third period when they had 1:45 of a 5-on-3 power play. Elliott made a pair of solid saves, but credit also extends to the guys in front of him who took away some of those big passing lanes with their sticks.