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:
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk and Sean Couturier all went scoreless.— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) October 4, 2019
The Flyers scored 4 goals and won.
Just one game, but impressive start.
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