Note: This is a weekly feature looking at the top Flyers topics that happened over the past week, usually appearing on Monday mornings. Check out last week’s here.
Offense Comes Alive
The Flyers scored 13 goals this past week in just two games. In a normal week of three games, that wouldn’t even be considered a bad amount.
In Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators, the middle-three and power play carried the Flyers. Nolan Patrick scored the first of his career, Travis Konecny scored and the fourth line created a goal for Andrew MacDonald. Valtteri Filppula scored the other two on the man advantage.
The first line didn’t create much offense, but it showed up Saturday night. Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek combined for four goals and five assists at even strength.
The rest of the offense had no problems producing either. Laughton scored twice, Filppula had one and Wayne Simmonds converted on the power play.
Of course, the first game isn’t looked on brightly since the Flyers squandered a two-goal lead, but if the Philly offense can stay consistent as it did this week, the team will have no problems racking up wins.
Elliott Over Neuvirth
One of the biggest complaints regarding coach Dave Hakstol last season was his handling of the goalies. He rode Michal Neuvirth at times, despite not playing at his best, then had Steve Mason start nearly every game down the stretch.
Despite only being five games into the season, it looks like Hakstol’s up to his old ways.
Heading into the Predators’ game, Brian Elliott had played twice and Neuvirth once, but Neuvirth had played the best game. Hakstol decided to play Elliott for the second straight game.
I chalked that up to Hakstol picking the 32 year old for his familiarity with Western Conference opponents, where he played for the previous seven-and-a-half seasons. Then, Neuvirth would get the Washington Capitals, his former team and a team he’s had success against.
Elliott let up two goals that should have been stopped against the Predators and six in whole. It seemed obvious Neuvirth was deserved of the start Saturday night.
But Hakstol surprised almost everybody by naming Elliott starter. It didn’t burn the coach at all Saturday, but there’s a history of riding one goalie to failure in Philadelphia.
I wrote before the season that I believed Elliott was the dominant goalie and would get more starts. Maybe the latest goalie choices was Hakstol saying the same thing. Either way, rolling with Elliott Saturday was a gamble.
Manning In, Sanheim Out
Hakstol was quick to insert Travis Sanheim in the lineup when Brandon Manning had a rough first game, which he deserved credit for. The rookie had a rough first game, but Hakstol played him for the next two games.
After the Predators’ loss, the coach decided it was time for a change, scratching Sanheim in favor of Manning against the Capitals. Without missing a beat, it angered Flyers’ twitter immediately.
Again though, Hakstol’s choices worked out. The Flyers rolled to their 8-2 win and Manning even had an assist on the last goal of the game.
As a 21 year old rookie, Sanheim is going to sit every now and then this season. It would probably happen whether Hakstol or somebody else was coach. Unfortunately, valuing experiencing is a huge trope in the NHL.
Where the issues lay is that neither Flyers’ outcome would be different if the other defenseman was playing. Manning wouldn’t have won against the Predators and the Flyers still would have stampeded the Caps with Sanheim — maybe even by more with the blueliner’s offensive prowess in a game where Philly dominated from the halfway point of the first period.
But coaches love winning lineups and Hakstol is unlikely to make any lineup switches after the team hit on so many offensive gears so fluidly Saturday night. However, Sanheim is a much bigger part of the team’s future and should be playing — especially if the outcomes of games aren’t going to differ marginally.