After shaky opener, Flyers look for spark vs. Kraken
The Philadelphia Flyers struggled for large portions in their season-opening shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.
But they still managed to earn one point with a pair of goals in the final 2 1/2 minutes.
The goal for the Flyers in their second game will be to locate more consistency when they host the expansion Seattle Kraken on Monday.
“You’ve got to be able to play 60 minutes the same way,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said. “That was our biggest problem last year and we’re definitely going to work on that.”
Captain Claude Giroux tied the game at 4 with 1:12 remaining in the third period. The goal helped to offset a subpar performance by goaltender Carter Hart, who stopped 35 shots but allowed four goals in a shaky second period.
“We don’t want to do this all season long, we’d rather play with a lead,” Giroux said. “The fans were pretty wild at the end. That was one of the most exciting goals I’ve scored, just seeing the guys pretty jacked up and the fans were happy. When you lose in shootouts, it’s no fun, but to be able to come back like that and get one point, it’s huge.”
The Flyers’ depth has been depleted with a number of key players injured and unavailable to play such as Wade Allison, Cam York, Sam Morin and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
“That’s just part of an NHL season,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “It’s an organization’s responsibility to have the depth they need to go through that.”
The Kraken, coached by former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, have been quite impressive through their first three games — a 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators two days later and a tough 2-1 overtime defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
Seattle looks much more polished than an expansion team.
“We’re just trying to keep it simple, to be honest,” Jared McCann said. “We’re still learning as a team, and we’re still trying to figure out a lot of things defensively as a team. We’re going to keep working on it every single day.”
Don’t confuse the Kraken with the high-flying Tampa Bay Lightning. Being such a young organization, it’s going to take time.
So far, so good.
“Right now we have the focus going to the net with guys coming in,” Alexander Wennberg said. “We can have a tip, we have a guy coming in getting a rebound. That’s the way we got to do it. It’s not always going to be pretty.”
The Kraken have been aggressive on offense and stingy on defense.
It’s the offensive part of their game that has been rather stunning.
“(Hakstol)’s got a great offensive mind, coming from Toronto with (Auston) Matthews and all those guys there,” McCann said. “He’s been giving us plays, and they’ve been working.”
Defensively, they were strong in their own zone with a solid effort against the Blue Jackets.
“It puts us in better positions. We have to track a play and get on top of it defensively,” Hakstol said. “Those are a couple of areas that we want to tighten up.”