Flyers face defending West champs in home opener
Tuesday, 10.11.2011 / 11:19 PM
NHL.comCANUCKS (1-0-1) at FLYERS (2-0-0)
TV: TSN, RIS (HD), CSN-PH
This is the only meeting between the teams this season. In their only meeting in 2010-11, the Canucks won 6-2 in Vancouver, led by a pair of goals by Ryan Kesler and a goal and an assist from Daniel Sedin.
The Flyers play their home opener presented by KIA Motors on a high after winning in Boston and New Jersey to start the season. For the Canucks, it marks the second stop on their four-game trip that started with Monday's win in Columbus. Vancouver won't have much time to enjoy the City of Brotherly Love before flying to Detroit for a game Thursday.
The players admittedly didn't play their best game Monday in Columbus, but goalie Cory Schneider was at his best when it counted.
Getting his first start of the season, Schneider denied the Blue Jackets' Maksim Mayorov on a third-period penalty shot. The save appeared to inspire the team, as Vancouver scored twice in the next eight minutes to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory.
"We're usually a pretty good road team and sometimes it does take us a little bit to get into it," Schneider told the Vancouver Sun. "There were times we were a bit lackluster. But that's my job -- to keep us in it and let us get our feet going. With this team, it might take three periods, but we'll get back into it and make it a game."
His teammates didn't mince words when they were asked about Schneider's key save.
"Huge," captain Henrik Sedin said. "The game could have been over. He battles hard and keeps us in games and that's what he did last year, too. We were sloppy -- really sloppy. The second half, we took it more to them than the other way. But the first period was unacceptable."
If anyone was wondering how all the new players Philadelphia brought in this season would gel, the answer has been just fine.
Of the Flyers' five goals in two games, three have come from players who skated elsewhere last season. Among the newcomers to score is Wayne Simmonds
, who was acquired from Los Angeles in the Mike Richards deal. In two games, he has a goal and an assist, a plus-2 rating, a team-high seven shots on goal and has made a big impact on the power play, providing a strong net-front presence.
"It's certainly different than the role I've had in the past," Simmonds told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I said before training camp -- and even during training camp -- that I'm just going to try my best to help the team win, and I think I've done a pretty good job to start the season, and I'm going to just try to continue that."
Coach Peter Laviolette sees this success as another step in the 23-year-old Simmonds' development process.
"I think when players come in at 18, 19, 20 years old, they're trying to figure out how to make their game, and maybe their roles aren't as easily identified," the coach told the Inquirer.
"But after you've been in the League for three or four years, you really start to develop physically and experience-wise, and he's one of those guys."
Canucks forward Daniel Sedin appears to be picking up where he finished last season, when he led the League with 104 points. In the Canucks' first two games, he leads the team with 3 points. … Flyers center Claude Giroux
, who played in his first NHL All-Star Game last season, has a goal in each of the team's first two games.
Kesler (hip) and Mason Raymond (back) remain on the long-term injured list. … The Flyers are completely healthy.
The Canucks have won two straight against the Flyers and are unbeaten in Philadelphia since losing in overtime there Nov. 13, 2003.
Depth is a wonderful thing, but also can be a double-edged sword, as Laviolette is dealing with. All four of his lines are playing well, and rather than have one line playing more than 20 minutes, that number is closer to 16-17.
"This is a bit of an adjustment period for us," Laviolette told CSNPhilly.com. "Our fourth line (Maxime Talbot
, Zac Rinaldo
, Andreas Nodl
) has been extremely effective in the two games. And in order to be effective, you've got to get on the ice. We're going to try and figure this out here because some guys want to play 20 minutes and some want to play 22 minutes. When you have four lines you can roll over and put out on the ice, you have to figure out how to manage 16-17 minutes and go down from there.
"I like the way our team played. Our lines and our attack."
If any players are upset, however, they shouldn't expect a change as long as the team is going well.
"The objective is to win hockey games," Laviolette said. "And when you can send four lines over the boards on the attack and you're getting results that you want and you like the way you are doing it, that's really what counts.
"I don't think it is a problem. I know where the minutes sit. I like it."