Flyers

Flyers have 'easy' part down, now the 'overrated' part begins

Flyers have 'easy' part down, now the 'overrated' part begins

The 3-0-1 road trip for Dave Hakstol's team definitely has merit to it.

The Flyers grabbed seven of eight points, went to overtime against a Stanley Cup contender (Sharks), convincingly beat the team allowing the NHL's fewest goals per game (Coyotes) and took down a squad that went 26-10-5 at home last season (Ducks).

There was a lot to like and you would think the Flyers are coming home much more comfortable with rebuilt confidence and some swagger.

Five straight games at the Wells Fargo Center are now in store for the Flyers.

Home sweet home, right?

Not necessarily — or least not yet.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Flyers analyst Chris Therien provided excellent insight on the differences between playing at home and on the road. 

The assumption is away games present a greater difficulty considering the travel and atmosphere, compared to having luxuries and the crowd on your side at home.

Therien, a former Flyer and 11-year NHLer, said that's not always the case. Here's his breakdown from Monday night's Flyers Postgame Live on NBCSP:

I think playing at home in the NHL is completely overrated. I think it's easy to win on the road, I don't think there's a problem playing on the road, in fact, for most teams, they'll probably tell you they're comfortable. 

That being said, I think if the Flyers play exactly like they did on the road, you won't have to worry about some of the stuff that you deal with at home. The problem when you're at home, sometimes you think it's going to be easier, you think the crowd is going to get behind you. And then if you don't perform, the crowd turns on you and you can hear the boos sometimes. 

But they're big boys, they're professionals, they're going to have to get over whatever funk they think they're having at home. Even last year was not a good record for this team at home prior to other seasons. It's huge, it's major-league important that they find a groove and find a groove in Philadelphia.

The last time the Flyers took the Wells Fargo Center ice, they lost to the Islanders, 6-1, dropping to 4-7-0 before their four-game road trip. The Flyers certainly looked like pressure got the best of them on Oct. 27. Head coach Dave Hakstol said his team "tightened up in this building" and Claude Giroux echoed that sentiment.

"I think when you want too much sometimes, you press a little harder, get away from what you're supposed to be doing, you're just pressing," Giroux said then. "I really feel like we're pressing right now, we're just tired of losing, so we're trying to do everything we can to make something happen, but sometimes it's not always the right thing."

Through the early going, the Flyers are 2-4-0 at home with a minus-12 goal differential. Among NHL teams, they've scored the second-fewest goals at home with 2.33 per game, while allowing the third most with 4.33.

All it takes, though, is one strong period to shake the nerves and feel at home again. Put the fans back on your side. The Flyers have five cracks at it — they're big boys and should get it done.

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Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Maybe Alain Vigneault wanted to make a point.

That it’s not all about goals.

Philly is a results city and, ultimately, the NHL is a results business. But Vigneault firmly believes in the process behind the results. He will see past the goal tallies bolded in the box score — if the process is being grown and done right.

The Flyers’ head coach constantly refers to the process. It’s what matters most when he attempts to build a contender, especially in Year 1 with a new team.

The process, one would think, looked pretty good Monday night … right? 

Especially during a four-goal second period in which the Flyers blew open an eventual 6-2 win over the Golden Knights (see observations). After all, the Flyers had scored only four goals over their past two games, both lopsided losses.

But Vigneault had other thoughts. He wasn’t about to forget the meaning of the process. He could have easily said the goals came because the Flyers stuck to it.

He didn’t go there.

“We had some puck luck in the second, found a way to score four and 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.”

Found a way to score four goals? A least-effective period of four goals?

The Flyers were outshot by Vegas in the middle stanza, 18-13. Brian Elliott came up with monstrous saves as the Flyers permitted some Grade A chances to a dangerous Western Conference team. After the past two losses, the Flyers had mentioned that they expected to be on the positive end of fortunate wins, too — as in that’s hockey, teams can get outplayed and still come away with victories.

The Flyers scored only one goal in the first period Monday but outshot the Golden Knights, 15-7, and really got after them in the offensive zone. The Flyers would take that opening frame over their second period just about every time.

“We thought we played better in the games that we lost,” Michael Raffl said. “We got away from it in the second period a little bit. We’ve got to keep doing what we do and it’s going to work. At the end of the day, when you work like that and keep outshooting opponents, you’ll be on the better end of the game at the end most of the time.”

The Flyers had to practically defend themselves following back-to-back losses by a combined score of 10-4. The Flyers outshot the opposition, 91-38, but uneven defeats don’t sit well with fans, especially ones that have become accustomed to mediocre Octobers.

“Last two games, I know we didn't have the result we wanted, we lost both games, but if you really look into the game, if you understand the game, you understand that we played great games,” Claude Giroux said after morning skate Monday.

The Flyers were OK admitting that they didn’t play their best game against Vegas.

Especially Vigneault.

He’ll be honest about the process — good or bad, no matter what the final score.

“In the second period, we scored four but I really believe that in our last eight periods, it could have been our least effective as far as going north-south a little bit quick, our puck management, making the right plays at the right time,” Vigneault said. “But when we didn’t do it the right way, we got big saves and when they made a mistake in that second period, we were able to make them pay, which we hadn’t been able to do for quite some time.”

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How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak

How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak

BOX SCORE 

The Flyers felt they had dominated their last two games.

The scoreboard said otherwise.

On Monday night, the Flyers quashed the debate by ripping off five goals through the first two periods en route to an emphatic 6-2 win over the Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center.

The victory for the Flyers (3-3-1) put a four-game losing streak to bed as Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Michael Raffl (two), Matt Niskanen and Oskar Lindblom all scored.

The Golden Knights (6-4-0) were coming off a shutout of the Penguins and their penalty kill was 33 for 35 on the season.

The Flyers impressively put up a six-spot on Vegas with two of the goals coming on the man advantage.

• Alain Vigneault’s team made a statement in the second period with four goals. Quite frankly, it needed to make a statement. Winning the shot battle is not a statement — putting up crooked numbers, though, speaks volumes (see story).

The Flyers had scored seven combined goals through the first and second periods this season. They weren’t giving up a ton, but they weren’t capitalizing, either.

This time, the Flyers did, and against a pretty good Western Conference contender.

Now it’s a matter of producing consistently.

• Let’s not forget how good Brian Elliott was against the Golden Knights. He converted big saves, many of which came before the score turned lopsided.

After the Flyers had yielded 10 goals in their previous two games, the 34-year-old picked up 33 stops. He has 76 saves on 81 shots in three career matchups with Vegas.

He could get the next game in Chicago.

Golden Knights backup Oscar Dansk had a rough outing.

• Joel Farabee, the 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft, made his anticipated NHL debut just five games into his pro career.

Last Saturday, Farabee’s mother, grandmother and older brother traveled from Cicero, New York (right outside of Syracuse) to watch his game at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

His mother Pam was back on the road Monday with Farabee’s father Dave to watch their son’s first NHL game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Farabee, a skilled and strategic goal-scoring winger, didn’t score but exhibited his sharp reads and angles to the puck. He gives the Flyers a flashy skill in the bottom six, a type of player who can make a play out of nothing.

• There has been no slowing down Konecny and Lindblom, who have been the Flyers’ two best players. The Flyers have desperately needed some of their promising youth to take big steps. So far, so good from the 22-year-old Konecny and 23-year-old Lindblom.

Konecny has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games.

For some perspective on his start, the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 games so far.

With his two-point effort, Lindblom has four goals and six points in seven games. Last season, he scored four goals in his first 45 games. The Flyers have put Lindblom in a position that suits him well and he’s taking advantage of it.

• The Flyers’ defensemen were strong and a combined plus-6.

• The unsung Raffl notched his first two-goal game since March 15, 2016.

• Four of the Flyers’ next five games are on the road.

To begin the stretch, the Flyers visit the Blackhawks on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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