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September 22, 2015

Five things: Flyers 5, Rangers 3

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After every one of the New York Rangers’ starters was announced by public address announcer Lou Nolan, the crowd quickly responded with, “Sucks!” Yup, we’re back at the Wells Fargo Center for another hockey season.

Just like last night in Allentown, the Orange and Black treated us all to some goals. Playing without Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, they took down a similarly shorthanded Rangers squad, 5-3. Here’s what I saw:

1. Hop on board

Another night, another strong performance from 18-year-old Travis Konecny playing on the right wing. The 24th pick of the 2015 NHL Draft made sharp passes, created scoring chances with speed and skill, and drilled center Jayson Megna behind the Rangers’ net for good measure. The home faithful really enjoyed that last one.

On the negative side of the ledger, his turnover in the offensive zone led to a New York goal. Hurry up and step aboard before the bandwagon heads back to Ottawa:

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2. Scoring from the point

Magnus Helberg isn’t quite as good as fellow countryman Henrik Lundqvist (#analysis), and the Flyers took advantage. They scored a couple of similar goals from the point on the power play against the gigantic Swede. First, Evgeny Medvedev uncorked a missile:

For a team that hasn’t practiced any special teams, the Flyers looked pretty good with the man advantage.  Later, Brayden Schenn picked out a top corner with a wrister (via Jordie):

Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored twice, added another PP goal on a great cross-ice feed from Wayne Simmonds.

3. Mason gets some work

After taking the night off on Monday, this was our first look at Steve Mason. The Flyers’ starting goaltender stopped 29 of 32 shots and said he felt comfortable out there despite a few shaky moments. Nothing to see there. Mason also provided some solid insight on what it’s like to play with Medvedev when there is a language barrier.

“It’s a work in progress but all the credit in the world to him,” Mason said. “He’s trying extremely hard to work with us and obviously taking English lessons. His English is a lot better than my Russian.” 

4. Pinching in

Dave Hakstol is still on pace to win every game of his career! After this one, the rookie head coach pointed out a few of his team’s mistakes. Specifically, the Flyers gave up a few too many odd-man rushes in the second period. Most of them were the result of a defenseman pushing up higher in the offensive zone than usual.

From what it sounds like, Hakstol felt the forwards didn’t do a good enough job getting back on defense in those instances. It also sounds like aggressive play from Flyers blueliners in the offensive zone isn’t going anywhere. 

“They were good pinches that as forwards we didn’t cover and reload above quickly or well enough, so those are things that we have to work through,” Hakstol said. “This is the time of the year we want to work through those things and encourage our defensemen to have a little bit more motion and movement in the zone.”

5. Embrace the madness

This was my first look at 3-on-3 overtime, and unsurprisingly there is so.much.open.ice. I love it, and considering their record in shootouts since, well, ever, the Flyers don’t mind the change, either. Mason, Hakstol and Sam Gagner all favor 3-on-3 over shootouts because they feel it’s still more of a team-oriented competition.

Tonight’s extra period went scoreless, as the teams resembled boxers in the first round of a major title fight feeling each other out. Then, the Flyers took a penalty and the Rangers added a skater. Once teams become more comfortable, hopefully we’ll see a few more haymakers being traded. This has the potential to resemble the 12th round.


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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