chicago blackhawks

Potentially a costly injury to Michael Raffl, but Flyers ride big performances to 2nd straight win

Potentially a costly injury to Michael Raffl, but Flyers ride big performances to 2nd straight win

BOX SCORE

Following two losses that caused some head-scratching, the Flyers have stemmed the tide with two straight wins.

Alain Vigneault's team finished a regular-season series sweep of Chicago by picking up a 4-1 victory Thursday night over the Blackhawks at United Center.

The Flyers (4-3-1) have now won consecutive games for the second time this month. They hadn't done so twice in October over the past three seasons. 

The Blackhawks (2-4-2) have lost three games in a row.

Flyers fans in Chicago enjoyed this one.

• Brian Elliott didn't love the word "mentor" when discussing if he would be back with the Flyers following last season. The 34-year-old wants to help 21-year-old goalie Carter Hart.

But Elliott also wants to compete.

"It's a tough word choice," he said April 7. "I think he needs someone that is going to help him along the way and push him to be better. Hartsy is a great young goalie and is going to be good in this league for a long time."

Elliott re-signed with the Flyers on June 26 and is pushing Hart. The veteran made 23 saves against the Blackhawks and sports a 1.69 goals-against average in three starts thus far. He has been huge in these last two victories.

• The Flyers will hope they didn't suffer a loss in the win. Michael Raffl went down after blocking a shot late in the third period. The role forward left the game and was unable to put weight on his right leg.

The 30-year-old is one of the Flyers' better puck-possession forwards and impacts the penalty kill. The Flyers desperately needed better goal prevention this season and Raffl helps.

If he is to miss any time, Tyler Pitlick will likely insert the lineup. The Flyers could also bring back Carsen Twarynski from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. The 21-year-old suits the bottom-six style and the Flyers were not unhappy with his game.

• Poor Joel Farabee.

Playing his second career NHL game, the 19-year-old had an assist and a goal overturned after official review.

Farabee was active, though, notched his first career point and has been a plus. The skill stands out, obviously, but he brings the characteristics in which Vigneault preaches for his system.

The 2018 first-round pick will score his fair share of goals throughout his career.

And Kevin Hayes can buy him dinner soon.

Hayes scored his third goal of the season and his second in as many games. This marker was huge as it came four minutes after the Blackhawks cut the Flyers' lead to one early in the final stanza.

• Travis Konecny got his payday during training camp and, so far, he is rewarding general manager Chuck Fletcher.

Oskar Lindblom is in line for a new deal after this season and he's done everything to help boost his eventual raise.

Lindblom, who will be a restricted free agent in the summer when his entry-level contract expires, has five goals through the Flyers' first eight games. Going back to last season, the 23-year-old winger has nine goals in his last 13 games.

Konecny and Lindblom hooked up for a first-period goal Thursday. The two have a combined 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) after compiling seven points (four goals, three assists) through the first eight games last season. They will have a serious say in the Flyers' fortunes in 2019-20.

• Less than a minute into the second period, Claude Giroux scored his first goal of the season and James van Riemsdyk recorded his first point.

JVR added his first goal of the season in the third period. He had entered tied for 13th in the NHL with 35 shots and was the only player among the top 200 in that category without a point.

The Flyers would love to see those two heat up. Both haven't played poorly but their production is crucial. Giroux and van Riemsdyk entered the game with a total of no goals and four points.

Last season, from Jan. 10 to March 21, van Riemsdyk scored 20 goals in 31 games and the Flyers went 21-8-2 during that stretch.

• The Flyers' defensemen have been very steady over the last two wins, putting up a combined plus-12 rating. Matt Niskanen and Ivan Provorov were a combined plus-6 against the Blackhawks.

• The Flyers return home Saturday to play the Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The team then plays three straight road games against the Islanders Sunday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), the Penguins Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Devils Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers at Blackhawks: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Blackhawks: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

For the Flyers recently, it has been good times against Chicago.

On Thursday night, the Flyers (3-3-1) will look to complete a regular-season sweep of the Blackhawks (2-3-2).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 8:30 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 8 p.m. ET
Where: United Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• If the Flyers can pick up a victory over the Blackhawks, they'll have won two straight games for the second time this month. The Flyers haven't won consecutive games twice in the month of October since 2015-16.

That's three seasons in a row without a winning streak of three games or more or a pair of two-game spurts during October.

It just shows you how up and down they've been in the season's opening month. The Flyers are 29-36-7 in October since 2013-14, constantly fighting to find early momentum.

They're trying to change that under a new head coach.

• The Flyers have won their last four meetings with the Blackhawks by a combined score of 14-5.

• Here are the NHL's points per game leaders so far:

1. David Pastrnak — 1.89
2. John Carlson — 1.82
3. Connor McDavid — 1.70
4. Leon Draisaitl — 1.60
5. Mika Zibanejad — 1.57
6. Brad Marchand — 1.56
7. Travis Konecny — 1.43

Konecny is off to the best start in his four-year career with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games. Last season, it took him 20 games to reach 10 points.

• James van Riemsdyk is tied for 13th in the NHL with 35 shots. He is the only NHL player among the top 200 in shots without a point.

Projected lineup

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
Michael Raffl-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the 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

BOX SCORE

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:

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers