Alain Vigneault introduced his mindset early and loudly.
“I want to score f---ing hard,” Vigneault said during a training camp practice featured on the NHL Network’s “Behind The Glass” series, “and hard to the net.”
Music to Scott Hartnell's ears.
The Flyers have made significant improvements in Year 1 under Vigneault. Through 36 games last season, the Flyers were 15-16-5 with 107 goals and 131 allowed. Through 36 games this season, the Flyers are 20-11-5 with 112 goals and 100 allowed.
Vigneault's hard-on-the-attack, get-after-it system is predicated on possession in the offensive zone. A greater focus on possession time results in having to play less defense as the Flyers are tied for the second-fewest shots allowed per game (28.8).
Hartnell, a former player who can appreciate Vigneault's preferred style, has been impressed.
Alain Vigneault has done a great job with the guys, especially in the offensive zone," Hartnell said last Saturday as an analyst for NBC Sports Philadelphia's Flyers Pregame Live and Postgame Live. "The Flyers are playing that hard cycle game, their defense is involved in the plays and it seems like everyone is going to the front of the net where it’s hard to score goals, where sometimes it actually hurts to score goals because you’re in there getting crosschecks, punches to the face after you score a big goal.
The way that they’re playing, that hard-nosed, in-your-face [game], great on the forecheck, turning pucks over, they’re using their speed, their youth and everything to score goals.
From 2007 to 2014, Hartnell became a fan favorite in Philadelphia, scoring 157 goals and 326 points over 517 games.
"The people of Philadelphia, they appreciate hard work, they love the guys that grind, that go to the hard areas and I made a living in front of the net, taking whacks and crosschecks and making hits, fights, things like that," Hartnell said last season. "I know that they love those guys and the guys love them right back."
It's no surprise Hartnell has enjoyed watching this 2019-20 club.
“They’ve got a lot of skill, they’ve been scoring some nice goals right around that blue paint," Hartnell said. "It’s just nice to see.”
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