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5 Observations: Flyers Start Season with 4-2 Victory in Columbus

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Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Travis Konecny's first-period goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead Thursday. The right winger led the Flyers with 31 goals last season. Photo: AP.

While many of you were tuning into the playoff developments between the Phillies and Braves, the Philadelphia Flyers quietly began their 2023-24 season Thursday in Columbus.

Carter Hart and Travis Konecny led the Flyers to a 4-2 win, giving Philly a 7-0-2 record in their last nine openers.

“We want to prove people wrong this year,” Sean Couturier said earlier in the week, mindful of the low expectations for the Flyers this season.

Here are five observations:

1. The Flyers got off to a quick start thanks to “Philly Joel,” as the team calls him.

Egor Zamula stripped the puck from a Columbus player in the Flyers’ defensive end, starting a two-on-zero break that led to Joel Farabee’s goal. Farabee scored after taking a feed from Sean Couturier with 16:27  left in the opening period.

Farabee played all 82 games last season after having off-season neck surgery, but wasn’t himself because he didn’t have any summer training. He finished with just 15 goals.

The Flyers hope the 23-year-old left winger he will become a steady 25-to-30-goal scorer.

2. Travis Konecny picked up where he left off last season.

Konecny, who led the Philadelphia Flyers with 31 goals last season, scored from the left circle with a perfectly placed shot that caromed off the right post and into the net. Scott Laughton set up the play with a great pass after he made a nifty move to get position on a defender. It was Laughton’s 200th career point.

“The first game is always really exciting,” Konecny said after the first period. “… It’s more important I do what I can to get my game back.”

Konecny, who finished with five shots, added an empty-net goal just before the final buzzer.

3. Center Sean Couturier made a strong return.

Playing in his first regular season game in nearly two years, Couturier had an assist, won 50 percent of his faceoffs, and played well defensively. He had a plus-3 rating.

Couturier had been sidelined because of two back surgeries.

4. Goaltender Carter Hart looked ready for the long grind.

Hart allowed a fat rebound on Columbus’ first goal, but was sharp the rest of the night. He stopped 31 of 33 shots and was probably the Flyers’ best players. He also contributed an assist.

The 25-year-old Hart made several quality saves, and he stopped Patrik Laine four times.

5. Former Flyer Ivan Provorov had an uneventful game in his Columbus debut.

Provorov, 26, took some verbal shots at the Flyers’ system in the morning. Then he went out and didn’t do much in his first game with the Blue Jackets. He had three shots, zero points and was minus-2.

After Thursday’s morning skate, Provorov talked about his time in Philly.

“Overall, the last three years, the way the team played over there  is just not my game,” he said. “It was a lot of rimming, throwing the puck away.”

He said he considers himself a player who can “make plays”,” but that the Flyers’ style made him feel “it was making my game worse.”

Breakaways

Cam Atkinson, a former Blue Jacket, helped secure the win with an empty-net goal. with 129 to go.  A short time later, Laine scored with 44  seconds left.  … The Flyers were 4 for 4 on the penalty kill, 0 for 3 on the power play. … Columbus’ No. 1 defenseman, Zach Werenski, left the ice in the second period after a knee-to-knee hit from Garnet Hathaway. He suffered a quad contusion and did not return. …  Laughton had two assists and was plus-3. … Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau (Gloucester Catholic) had only two shots, took a slashing penalty against Bobby Brink, and was minus-2. … The teams will meet again Nov. 19 at the Wells Fargo Center. … Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyson Foerster and Emil Andrae were scratched from the Flyers’ lineup. … The Flyers face Claude Giroux and the host Ottawa Senators on Saturday at 1 p.m. … Farabee also scored the Flyers’ first goal of the 2021-22 season. … The Flyers’ PhD Line — Ryan Poehling, Hathaway, and Nic Deslauriers — was rewarded for the terrific preseason and took the Flyers’ first shift. Poehling won 62% of his faceofs in the win, Hathaway contributed three blocks, and Deslauriers had four hits.

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