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October 04, 2019

Instant observations: Flyers open season with energetic, impressive win over Blackhawks

Flyers NHL
Carroll - Philadelphia Flyers Travis Konecny Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Travis Konecny of the Philadelphia Flyers during a game against the Arizona Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

The Flyers won't skate on their home ice until next Wednesday — their home opener against the Devils — but their season opener took place as part of NHL's Global Series in Prague, Czech Republic against the Blackhawks Friday afternoon with the Flyers getting off to a pretty impressive and quick start in a 4-3 victory.

Philly looked like the better team in every facet at O2 Arena, dominating with and without the puck. For those of you forced to sit in your office and miss the rare weekday matinee (or for those looking to re-live the eventful 'W'), here's the good, the bad and the ugly from the Flyers 2019-20 season opener:

The Good

 • The first goal of the 2019-20 season was a beauty, and hopefully a sign of things to come from Travis Konecny, who intercepted a misguided pass attempt near the blue line and was able to go top shelf on Corey Crawford.

He would score again, going high for a 4-on-4 goal late in the second to put Philly up 3-1.

Konecny signed a six-year, $33 million deal not long ago to remain solidly in Philly for years to come. If TK can turn into a primary scorer for the Flyers it'll definitely be a sign of good things to come this season.

• The Flyers' power play attack was a lowly 22nd in all of hockey last season, so understandably all eyes were on the unit during its first opportunity of 2019-20. They didn't disappoint. After dominating puck control and precision set up several scoring chances, Oskar Lindblom found nylon toward the end of the Chicago PK. The goal was rather interesting, ricocheting off the post and a Blackhawks defender to put Philadelphia up 2-1 in the second.

• Carter Hart had an up and down day but we are tossing him in the "good" category based on the saves he did make, and the fact that the three goals he allowed were not entirely his fault. When he saw the puck, he generally stopped it during his first career opening day start. Like this one:

• The Flyers looked more and more comfortable and potent on defense as the game went along, with all five skaters doing their job when the Blackhawks were in possession. Not only did the forecheck create opportunities for offense, but the defense as a whole did a great job of limiting serious chances for Chicago on breakaways or odd-man rushes.

• There is no shortage of firepower on offense, as the Flyers showcased in the middle of the third quarter. From newcomer Kevin Hayes to veterans Claude Giroux and Jakob Voracek, the Flyers top forwards are able to create instant offense and that trio should be generating scoring chances week in and week out.

• Another veteran, Michael Raffl, gave Philly some much-needed insurance, draining a wraparound goal midway through the third to put Philadelphia up 4-2.

• The Flyers absolutely decimated Chicago on the faceoff, winning 63 percent of them in the game.

• They also outshot the Blackhawks by a convincing 38-29 margin.

The Bad

• In a vacuum, it was pretty east to tell from watching Friday's early action that this was the first game of the season for both teams. There was quite a bit of rust as several sloppy passes, turnovers and slight instances of miscommunication made Philly look a little uncomfortable out there. Voracek took an early penalty too as the Flyers scrambled in their defensive zone in transition — a power play they'd have no problem killing. With so many new faces — including a new head coach — early growing pains are is to be expected.

• It didn't take long for Alex Nylander to net the game's first equalizer on a Flyers' turnover, as the Blackhawks winger was able to use the Philly defense as a screen, blocking the view of Hart who was unable to recover to make the save. It's hard to pin the goal on Hart on that one though it's clearly one he'll want back.

• Seconds after getting a power play late in the second quarter, Claude Giroux took a bad, sloppy slashing penalty to give Chicago a level playing field with a 4-on-4. The squandered power play wasn't the issue, as Konecny scored to put Philly briefly ahead 3-1, but the last little sliver of Chicago power play would bite the Flyers, as Alex DeBrincat snuck in a goal with just 12 seconds to play in the period and make it a one goal spread. 

Penalties like that are inexcusable, and the turnover that led to a short-handed opportunity (that set up the need for the Giroux slash) are even worse.

The Ugly

• We were hoping to just skip the ugly on this one — after all, there is sure to be plenty of it as the season goes along. But Hart surrendered another goal when he appeared to lose the puck on due to a screen late in the third period with just over two minutes left.

The Blackhawks had pulled their goalie as the Flyers were nursing a two-goal lead, and this is the kind of situation Philly will need to not only be able to survive but to thrive in if they hope to win a playoff series for the first time since 2012. By the skin of their teeth Philly hung on for the ferocious final 90 seconds.  

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