There was something different about Thursday morning.
When I drove my kid to school, it was still dark out. There was a slight chill in the air. A radio station called me to go on the air, briefly. I was tasked with staying up well past midnight in order to write a story for the following morning.
Yep. It’s October. Yep, it’s hockey season.
A lot of people in the Philadelphia area celebrated that on Thursday – the start of a new season, where hope springs eternal and visions of the Flyers skating with a silver chalice for the first time in 43 years dance in imaginations from Yardley to Yeadon.
And while turning those visions into expectations is still quite premature, the Flyers did give their fans what they wanted Thursday night. In what is becoming a bit of an (unwelcome) tradition, the Flyers kicked off their season on the West Coast, and much like last year, were rude house guests and spoiled the home opener of their opponent.
And although the Flyers beat the defending Western Conference Champion Vegas Golden Knights 5-2, they didn’t do it with speed or tenacity, but rather with smart positional play (eventually) and goaltending.
Four of the five Flyers goals were fluky or fortunate – but if you are going to be a good team you have to make your own good luck sometimes, and the more impressive aspects of the game were bottling up the neutral zone to take away Vegas’ strength and a really strong effort in goal by Brian Elliott.
Let’s break it down:
1. Moose Tracking
Elliott is the lone goalie on the roster, not injured that is, who the Flyers seem to have confidence in when he’s on the ice.
However, Elliott is not normally a fast starter and is coming off of not one but two surgeries in nine months, so it would be easy to forgive Elliott if he got off to another slow start.
Uh… not the case:
And this was just one of his 23 saves. And it wasn’t even his best – just the best one I could find on the Twitter by the peeps who make these things.
Nevertheless, Elliott was strong, especially low and along the ice. It seemed like that was the Golden Knights’ strategy to beat Elliott, but he was able to do a good job of squaring himself to the shooter, stacking the pads, and making himself look bigger than he is.