Flyers

Travis Konecny wows, Flyers kick off Alain Vigneault era with win over Blackhawks in NHL Global Series

Travis Konecny wows, Flyers kick off Alain Vigneault era with win over Blackhawks in NHL Global Series

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The curtain opened on the Alain Vigneault era Friday in Prague, Czech Republic.

And the first show was a good one. 

The Flyers beat the Blackhawks, 4-3, in the NHL Global Series at O2 Arena. In Vigneault's Flyers head coaching debut, his team received goals from Travis Konecny (two), Oskar Lindblom and Michael Raffl.

Impressively, the Flyers have won their last four season openers by a combined score of 18-10. Of course, though, fans will keep things in perspective given the team has missed the playoffs in two of those three seasons.

But 2019-20 at least has a different look with Vigneault and assistant coaches Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo, along with general manager Chuck Fletcher, who brought in Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun.

Time will tell just how the different the final result will be for the Flyers (see story).

• Let's start with Carter Hart.

How refreshing is it to go into a season knowing that the goalie in net is truly the future?

The 21-year-old wasn't at his best Friday and had some trouble protecting the Flyers' lead, but he made enough timely stops.

In two career starts against the Blackhawks, Hart has two wins and 68 saves on 72 shots. Pretty good.

• Konecny hasn't always been the fastest starter. In 2018-19, he had two goals through 15 games. In 2017-18, he had two goals through 23 games.

In the 2019-20 opener, with the ink still wet on his new contract, Konecny needed just two periods to score his first two goals. The second marker was filthy and gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

So, missing those first three days of training camp was no big deal, huh?

The loud start is an encouraging sign for the 22-year-old who should have 30 goals on his mind. He was on the second line Friday with Sean Couturier and Lindblom. The group was dynamic.

• Speaking of Lindblom, he was all smiles after this goal. The 23-year-old became the beneficiary of a fortuitous bounce to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead in the middle frame.

Going back to last season, Lindblom has five goals in his last six games. If he scores 20-plus goals in his second full season, the Flyers will win a lot more games.

• Hayes and Niskanen had nice debuts.

Hayes, a 27-year-old center, used his big body and is a real presence out there at 6-foot-5. Niskanen, a 32-year-old defenseman with a Stanley Cup, was a plus-1 in 20-plus minutes. He broke up a dangerous 2-on-1 led by Patrick Kane as the Flyers were nursing a one-goal lead. Like Hayes, Niskanen also plays on both special teams units. Strong, versatile additions.

• The power play isn't exactly Ivan Provorov's strength. Working on the second unit during the second period, Provorov lost the puck in his own zone trying to ignite an entry. It's not that Provorov isn't a skilled puck mover, but Travis Sanheim might be a better option on the power play. There's so much to like about him getting up the ice and working the point.

Last season, Provorov played 127:24 on the man advantage and had two assists. Sanheim, on the other hand, played 84:21 power play minutes and had two goals and three assists.

• Even without Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder), the Flyers look deeper at forward. Raffl scored an important goal in the third period to provide a 4-2 cushion.

Raffl will give consistent effort on the Flyers' fourth line. If he's scoring goals, it's a major bonus.

Something to consider:

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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

Oskar Lindblom, a 23-year-old forward on the Flyers, is expected to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones.

Below is a statement from Flyers president of hockey operations and general manager Chuck Fletcher:

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma by leading specialists at the University of Pennsylvania. He will undergo further testing and evaluation next week and begin treatment immediately thereafter. He is not expected to return to play for the remainder of the season. The Flyers will do everything possible to support Oskar and assist him in securing the best care available. Out of respect for Oskar and his family, the team will have no further comment at this time and asks that Oskar be afforded a period of privacy so that he may focus his efforts on his treatment and a return to full health.

Lindblom, a native of Sweden, had been one of the Flyers’ top players through 30 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 points.

He was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round of the 2014 draft and has blossomed into a promising player.

Always smiling, positive and humble, Lindblom is beloved by his teammates. His rise from a fifth-round pick to a difference-making player has been a product of hard work.

After scoring 17 goals last season, sixth most among NHL rookies, Lindblom went back to Gävle, Sweden, to train all summer with his old team Brynäs IF.

"It’s like five minutes from my house," Lindblom said during training camp.

“It was nice to be back home for a bit, just relaxed, had some time with friends and family, so it was great.”

It didn't take long for the Flyers' new coaching staff to fall in love with Lindblom's game as the winger raced out of the chute, scoring in the team's season opener and playing a major role ever since.

“I didn’t know much about Oskar before coming here, but what I’ve found is a real smart, two-way player, hard-working young man," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Oct. 26.

In the summer of 2017, Lindblom talked about his climb within the Flyers' system.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said.

By the age of 23, he has more than made it on the highest level.

Below is the outpouring of support for Lindblom, via social media:

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Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

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From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers (see highlights).

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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