It didn’t take long for new Flyer Vincent Lecavalier to make his mark in Philadelphia. As the final seconds were ticking down on the opening period of Wednesday night’s season premiere at the Wells Fargo Center, Lecavalier collected his first point in Orange & Black off of a sweet dish to Brayden Schenn to put his team ahead 1-0 going into the dressing room.
Unfortunately, a one-goal lead was not nearly enough production for the work the Flyers put in during those initial 20 minutes. Despite launching 15 shots on goal and dominating the time on attack, Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier stood tall when the horn sounded having kept his team in the contest.
You could sense the momentum changing right away in the second period, and sure enough the Maple Leafs outlasted the Bullies by a tally of 3-1.
Bernier was without question the star of the show, halting 31 of 32 shots to earn a win in his Leafs debut. The Flyers were among the teams to inquire about Bernier over the summer when he was still a backup goaltender for the Kings, but ultimately Toronto landed him, sending forward Matt Frattin, netminder Ben Scrivens, and a second-round pick to Los Angeles.
Perhaps Bernier was taking this opportunity to show the Flyers’ front office what they potentially missed out on.
Regardless, the most frustrating part of all was how many chances the Leafs—playing in their second game in as many nights—gave the home team to pile on. Philadelphia was awarded seven power plays compared to just two for Toronto, yet the Flyers were only able to convert once on Schenn’s marker.
They kept going back to this strategy where a puck carrier with a full head of steam would attempt a drop pass just before crossing into enemy territory, often to Claude Giroux. By midway through the game, Giroux or the intended recipient would be swarmed at the blue line, and by the end, the Flyers could barely mount an attack.
Bernier also turned away a penalty shot by Wayne Simmonds.
At least Lecavalier looked as advertised, his assist coming on the lone Flyers’ score off of a power play. The four-time All Star got to the puck in the corner and proceeded to make pretty below the goal line, skating behind the net until the Leafs were sufficiently dazzled, then delivering the biscuit to Schenn right in the middle of the Leafs’ defense for the home run.
I don’t know about you, but I could probably get used to seeing this No. 40 in Orange & Black.