Photo by Ezra Shaw via Getty Images
Keep reading, you’ll cheer, you’ll worry, you’ll get annoyed at Radko Gudas.
Philadelphia Flyers Radko Gudas photo by Gregg Forwerk NHLI via Getty Images
It’s all happening and you cannot wait to leave the off season behind. The Philadelphia Flyers first game of the season had it’s up and down moments, but overall was a deeply satisfying way to start things off for the orange and black. The big talking points come in the way of the hat tricked out win, the power play and penalty kill and the much longed for roster changes.
The Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux scored the first Philadelphia goal of the season 8:28 into the first period, for the third time as a Flyer, because he is a Captain and a gentleman, assisted by Jake Voracek.
Jordan Weal followed up Giroux’s goal in short order less than 3 minutes later, with Shayne Gostibehere on the assist (isn’t he sweet?), at the 11:16 mark, providing a 2-0 lead over San Jose.
This goal was notably the first of three power play goals scored over the course of the game.
Flyers Coach Dave Hakstol noted of his team on the power play; “We had a real good shooting mentality, scored a couple early by having great net-front presence, one or two passes and putting it to the net.”
Two rapid fire goals from the Sharks Kevin Labanc, at 17:17 and 19:41 (on the power play), respectively, nevertheless eliminated Philadelphia’s 2-0 lead (some say that a 2 goal lead is the most precarious in hockey) to close out the first period with a score of 2-2.
Goal scorer Jordan Weal shared his thoughts on the games opening period; “We got off to a great start, we were putting lots of pressure on them, but then we stared sitting back a little bit.”
The Sharks out shot the Flyers on goal for the first and second periods, 8-11 and 6-13 correspondingly.
This has been an unfortunate and consistent narrative in the Flyers story; not playing a full and even 60 minutes. Thankfully, Philadelphia realized their mistake and corrected it, especially in the third period with 17 shots on goal versus the Sharks 11, yielding 2 goals and the win.
Wayne Simmonds scored his first goal of the game and season with 2:24 left in the second period, assisted by Shayne Gostibehere and Jakub Voracek. Consequentially, the second period ended with the Flyers regaining the lead 3-2.
“…He did a lot of other things, and he did them really well, he was a real good power forward tonight.” Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Simmonds.
The San Jose Sharks began the third period by again tying the game at 3-3 with Logan Couture scoring on the power play at 3:12, deflected off the skate of Flyer Andrew MacDonald.
However, the remainder of third period as all about Wayne Simmonds, who scored twice; once at 9:27 on the power play and again at 19:24 on an empty net. Correspondingly, Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere and Sean Couturier provided the assists. These goals resulted in Wayne Simmonds 2nd career hat trick, the other happening April 20th, 2013, and the first hat trick during the season opener. In like fashion, good things came in threes for Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostibehere, who contributed three assists each to the winning effort. The final tally was 5-3 in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Assist machine Jakub Voracek had an honest and grounded philospohy of the game; “It was a really hard game, to be honest. A lot of grind. It’s the first game of the season. We found a way to win the game, which was good. There are 81 to go, so I wouldn’t get carried away.”
Opposing team player usually don’t get much mention here (they have their own writers for that), but as per former Philadelphia Flyers and current commentator Keith Jones, Kevin Lebanc achieved “The Jonesy Hat Trick” by being in the penalty box for three goals scored by Philadelphia.
Captain Claude Giroux & Jordan Weal get a gold star right in the middle of their foreheads while Simmer gets 3 anywhere he wants them.
Giroux’s post game snack is a crispity season opening grilled cheese sandwich of victory, because that is what winners eat.
Click the link below for game video highlights.
The Power Play and Penalty Kill
The Flyers scored three power play goals, which is an accomplishment in itself and a monument to hope given Philadelphia’s power play struggles in recent years. The team continues to work on it’s power play; “With our power play, both units this year, it’s only a matter of time,” Flyer Wayne Simmonds said. “We kept working on it and we’ll continue to work on it. Today was a pretty good showing.”
Contrastingly, other side of that coin is their penalty killing capabilities, which were tested and over whelmed twice. The result is two out of three goals scored by the Sharks happened on the penalty kill, of which there were six. A one out of three ratio can get Philadelphia Flyers in trouble, though the sample size in very, very tiny.
The players seem to be adapting to the rule changes regarding penalties. Though how they will adapt in the long run is yet to be seen.
Mentioning the Flyers’ defenseman Radko Gudas is a must whilst discussing penalties in this game. Then chastised. With 1:06 left in the game, Gudas boarded Shark goal scorer Kevin Lebanc. This could have allowed San Jose to tie the game since it was a one goal game at this point. Simmonds netted his hat trick less than 30 seconds later, though fate could have easily been less kind.
The game notwithstanding, intentionally boarding anyone and potentially inflicting a serious, even career ending injury. Gudas’ past actions, reputation and looking at the incident are making it evident that this is a conscious and successful effort to board Lebanc. The San Jose Jonesy Hat Tricker is gratefully free of serious injury. Gudas’ actions make him a liability to his team and out weigh the benefits he provides as the teams main enforcer. He has shown in previous seasons that he IS capably of being a productive team member who uses force appropriately (Click here to learn more), though these occurrences are few and far between last season. If he cannot play more inside game parameters, he won’t be playing at all. Whether it’s due to his “occupy penalty box” movement or sitting on the bench or in the press box when coach Dave Hakstol has had enough.
One cannot discuss the Philadelphia Flyers this season with out discussing the changes in their roster. Giroux spent this game as a left winger with Sean Couturier taking his place at center. Note worthy as this is, there are many roster additions and shakeups that eclipse this change. One such revelation is filling the second Alternate Captain position left open by the Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s becoming a Las Vegas Golden Knight after the expansion draft.
The slot is occupied in a slightly unconventional manner; by dividing the position between two players by team vote. The fairly recent acquisition Valterri Filppula (center) will act as an Alternate Captain at home. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald is the new Alternate Captain for road games. Seriously. Andrew MacDonald is the “Away A”, double check if it helps you sleep at night. But it probably won’t. Democracy has made some wild things happen.
Filppula is a sensible choice for a vote for Alternate Captain (or Alternate alternate captain?) as well as a sensible choice not to be. He has only been with the team since the trade deadline on March 1st, 2017. This limits his seniority with the franchise and chemistry building with it’s players. This may dissuade some from making him an Alternate. On the contrary, in the 20 games he played as a Flyer last year, he has scored 5 goals and gathered 3 assists. In the locker room, Filppula is in regards of high esteem, much like MacDonald. This is valuable in a youth oriented roster. This may influence players TO make him an alternate. Sharing the position seems to be a practical and effective compromise.
Where confusion sets in for fans and most of planet Earth, is his partner in Alternate Captain-ing, Andrew MacDonald. If the Flyers want a defenseman for Alternate, there are not any other real choices. The defensive roster is full of players who have been in the NHL 3 or fewer seasons (including rookies), Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas. Manning has yet to score more than 3 goals in the 5 full seasons as a Flyer. Comparing his performance to possible candidate Shayne Gostisbehere’s, who has 7 goals and 32 assists for last year, for example. This shows there are more productive players.
However, there are players with less experience and that may make other players balk at the idea of giving them the “A”. Alternately, available defenseman Radko Gudas’ has not demonstrated the leadership skills or decorum an Alternate Captain should possess. His tally of 437 penalty minutes through out his career would also be a deterrent in elections for many things. This is up to and including Alternate Captain. This leaves MacDonald as the last man standing if one seeks a defenseman for the “A”. Additionally, he is of note as a positive influence of developing young players. Furthermore, there may be further locker room impact that is apparent to the players but not to fans or other such humans.
Conversely, less controversial roster changes is the youth invasion with the welcoming of the much anticipated NHL debutante Nolan Patrick. However, he neither acquired any points or gave a spectacular performance. Though Patrick did win 5 out of 9 face offs and took 3 shots on goal. Goalie Brian Elliot made his own premier in the orange and black, stopping 32 shots in all.
While there was a lot going on and much to discuss, it is still only the first game of the season and how their power play unit roster renovation will truly shape their game over the long run.
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