Nuck Respect: Flyers Hang on for 5-4 Win, Stay Undefeated

Nuck Respect: Flyers Hang on for 5-4 Win, Stay Undefeated

The Flyers faithful came into Wednesday night's home opener with high expectations following the team's 2-0 start to the season on the road. The South Philly opener was ugly at times, but the orange and black sent the fans home happy with a 5-4 victory. The Flyers showed that while the Giroux-JVR-Jagr grouping is the star-studded line to watch, the team is well-balanced, with nine different players registering at least a point in tonight's win.

"If you work hard, you give yourself a chance to win, and in the three games we've won, we worked hard," Claude Giroux told Coatesy following the win.

Work hard they did, but they also didn't make it easy on themselves. The Canucks had some dumb penalties early while the Flyers had their share late. In the end, the Flyers were able to beat Roberto Luongo one more time than the Canucks could get it past Ilya Bryzgalov.

Things got off to a fast start when the Flyers couldn't capitalize on the first Peco Power Play of the season early in the first period, but that didn't stop Wayne Simmonds from making himself quite familiar with the opposing goal crease at the Wells Fargo Center, mucking it up in front much to the delight of his new fans in Philadelphia.

Simmonds came damn close to slamming one home, but Luongo somehow made a pretty fantastic save when it looked like Simmonds had some daylight to work with. His physical play in front of the net was one of the more positive signs on the night for the new guys.

But the Canucks played undisciplined hockey for much of the first period and found themselves shorthanded again just minutes later when Chris Pronger drilled a puck off the boards behind goal while dumping it into the zone. The Flyers got a Jedi-like bounce when the puck found its way directly in front of Luongo with Giroux skating towards him unobstructed. We knew Giroux was good, but we didn't know he could make the puck go where he wanted it to without even touching it. Giroux alone in front is pretty much an NHL goalie's worst nightmare. G went glove-side top shelf and the Flyers took an early 1-0 lead. Claude is on pace for lots and lots of goals this season.

The Flyers didn't wait long to add on. They found themselves on yet another power play with 9 minutes left in the first. Chris Pronger was working the point and passed it to Giroux on the wing who gave it right back to the Captain who one-timed their second goal of the game right past Luongo who never even saw it with Simmonds standing in front of him. It was Prong Daddy's first of the season.

Following what was an awful start for the Canucks, they got some of their mojo back thanks in part to a Scott Hartnell penalty, the first of his likely many at the Wells Fargo Center this year. Bryzgalov was getting peppered with shots on the Vancouver powerplay and Mikael Samuelsson finally slammed one past him to make it 2-1.

The Flyers regained the two goal lead shortly before the end of the first period when JVR tallied his first of the season. A poor clear by Luongo ended up in the hands of Giroux who fed Van Riemsdyk from the point. Luongo couldn't gather it up, and JVR showed some nifty hands, going top shelf on him.  

The two teams traded goals to start the second period. Bryzgalov was beaten by Henrik Sedin to bring the Canucks to within one. But Jakub Voracek added his second of the season shortly after, set up nicely from Sean Couturier to put the Flyers back up by two, 4-2. The Caucks weren't going away easily, however, and cut the Flyers lead to one on a Chris Higgins goal with five minutes left in the second.

There appeared to be a big turn of the tides to start the third period when JVR couldn't make anything happen on a great breakaway opportunity only to be called for an unsportsmanlike penalty seconds later. It lead to Daniel Sedin scoring to tie things up at 4-4. The Flyers didn't let the Canucks keep the momentum for long, however, as Danny Briere hit Andrej Meszaros heading towards the net for a quick wrister. Luongo was once again beaten top shelf to give the Flyers the 5-4 lead.

The Flyers' penalty kill was put to the test in the final minutes as Jagr was called for a hook followed by a legit boarding call on Voracek and a a questionable interference call on Pronger which generated the first full-fledged "REF YOU SUCK!" chants of the season. Despite a flurry of chances, the Canucks couldn't capitalize and the Flyers held on for the 5-4 victory.

3-0 to start the season. At least one team's fanbase is feeling good in South Philly this time of year.

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Here's a 360 panoramic shot I took with my iPhone prior to this evening's home opener. You can scroll all the way around and zoom in/out.

Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

Hakstol intrigues with pairing, potential of Konecny, Couturier, Voracek

VOORHEES, N.J. — Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek styled matching green jerseys during Friday’s practice at Flyers Skate Zone.

Together, they whipped around the ice in what head coach Dave Hakstol called a “physical, grinding, competitive day, probably the most competitive of camp … and that was for a purpose.”

Flyers fans are likely crossing their fingers, hoping the trio in green holds a purpose, as well.

The line of Konecny, Couturier and Voracek was a new wrinkle to 2016 training camp, a day before the team’s fifth preseason game. Maybe an experiment of sorts by Hakstol, but one that exudes all kinds of potential leading up to Saturday night’s contest against the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s one day of practice,” Hakstol said. “They were fine. I wasn’t keying on that line in any way, I was keying on a lot of our team play. They were fine, they worked hard. To really see what kind of chemistry they have and how productive they can be, we’ll have to wait until the game [Saturday] if they’re together.”

Will we see that?

“You might,” Hakstol said. “I don’t have anything set yet.”

Konecny played left wing Friday, next to Couturier at center and Voracek on the right. If that is in fact the case Saturday, the 19-year-old Konecny will see another golden opportunity to woo management in his push for a roster spot. The Flyers purposely paired Konecny with NHL forwards Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl in Wednesday’s 2-0 preseason win, and the 2015 first-round pick responded with a goal and an assist.

Friday marked a new day with new possibilities.

“It felt good,” Konecny said. “Just like the game [Wednesday] night, you’re playing with good players and it makes the game easier. I was just trying to keep things simple and work hard.”

Couturier and Voracek are two of the Flyers’ most skilled passers and playmakers. Combine them with Konecny — a prized prospect with the same traits — and it’s hard to measure the upside.

“It opens up a lot of space,” Konecny said. “Those guys are big out there, so when they’re going to the corners, it creates a little room for me. I’ve just got to find the holes and find the spots and the puck kind of just comes to you.”

Left wing is Konecny’s best shot at making the team’s roster and snagging a top-six role. The Flyers are heavy at right wing while light at left. Among the Flyers’ group of forwards, it’s the position of greatest need.

Like Hakstol said, Friday’s practice had purpose. So Konecny’s trying out left wing had substance, too.

“I think it’s a possibility,” Hakstol said. “I wouldn’t say that’s an absolute, but that’s one area that we’re looking at — not just for him, but for other players. So that’s one possibility.”

Konecny, more of a right winger and/or center, has no qualms with playing left. Really, a player of his ilk can make an impact regardless of position.

“I’ve played all positions through junior,” he said. “I’ve played right, middle and left, so wherever I fit in, I’d play there. I’m trying not to look too far ahead, though, just trying to play every day, and wherever I am that day, I’ll focus on that position and get the job done that day.

“I usually end up on the left wing when I’m coming across the ice anyway. I enter the zone on that side of the ice, so it helps me. I actually think I see the ice better when I play on that side of the ice.
 
“I got another day to play today. It’s just about earning each and every day.”

Voracek and Couturier, both of whom have yet to play in a preseason game because of World Cup of Hockey competition, looked at Friday as just another practice with new elements — such is life in training camp.

“It needs some work, obviously we need to get used to each other but if we skate and play with the puck, we should be fine,” Voracek said.

“Even last year along with this year, every game [Konecny has] been very solid. He’s a hard-working kid for his size. He’s very greedy, he’s not scared and he’s skating well. For a 19-year-old, he’s looking very, very sharp.”

Roster talk
According to a report by generalfanager.com, the Flyers waived forwards Petr Straka, Andy Miele, Chris Conner and Greg Carey, as well as defenseman and South Jersey native T.J. Brennan. None of the five were seen practicing Friday and the Flyers did not have an announcement. If they clear waivers — which seems likely — they’ll report to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

With the reported moves, the Flyers’ roster stands at 34, including injured players Nick Schultz, Mark Alt and Cole Bardreau. The Flyers will have to be at 23 by the season opener Oct. 14.

Goalie situation
Hakstol said whomever is in net Saturday will play the entire game. He would not say if it would be Steve Mason or Michal Neuvirth. An announcement will be made Saturday morning. Neuvirth is back from the World Cup and has yet to play a preseason game.

Gudas update
Defenseman Radko Gudas (wrist), who said Wednesday he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent, will “definitely” play in a preseason game, Hakstol said. The coach would not say whether it would be Saturday or next week.

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

Carson Wentz named Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week

As Carson Wentz rolls out of bed, he wins an award. Brushes his teeth, wins an award. Eats breakfast, award.

This time, the Eagles' rookie quarterback has been named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for his performance against the Steelers in a 34-3 Week 3 win.

Against the Steelers, Wentz completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and a 125.9 passer rating. He beat out Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Browns CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun and teammate Wendell Smallwood.

This is the second time in three weeks that Wentz has been named the NFL Rookie of the Week.

Here are the awards Wentz has won so far this season:

- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 1
- NFC Offensive Player of Week 3
- NFC Offensive Rookie of the Month for September
- NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 3

Wentz won't have any chances to win more awards this weekend as the Eagles are on their bye. They'll play again on Oct. 9 in Detroit.