Flyers focus on sharper play for home opener vs. Sharks

Dave Hakstol

DENVER – Even though the result of game two wasn’t as positive as game one, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol liked a lot of what he saw in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Avalanche.

Actually, the old cliché about the game being closer than the final score might apply here.

The Flyers were down just 3-2 until the final four minutes and Hakstol still isn’t happy about Colorado’s go-ahead goal, in which he challenged due to his contention of goaltender interference.

Officials eventually ruled that Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim pushed Gabriel Landeskog into goaltender Brian Elliott, negating a possible interference call.

That aside, Hakstol was pretty happy with the Flyers’ effort against Colorado.

“We were much crisper with the puck (than Vegas),’’ Hakstol said. “We were sharper with the puck, we moved it out of our zone much better.

“There were times when we were a little bit slow with our forecheck but once we got into the second half of the second period we started getting an effective forecheck.’’

That could be helpful in Tuesday night’s home opener against the speedy San Jose Sharks.

“There are lots of good things to build on,’’ Hakstol said. “The way we lost the game, the insurance goals, those are things we have to clean up.’’

The one question mark for this game is the status of left wing James van Riemsdyk, who played only eight shifts (5:13) at the Pepsi Center before he had to leave with a lower-body injury.

Because the Flyers didn’t fly back until Sunday morning, JVR was not expected to be evaluated by team doctors at home until Monday.

That was confirmed by general manager Ron Hextall later in the day.

If van Riemsdyk is unavailable, they can tap reserves such as Jordan Weal or Dale Weise or possibly call up someone from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

There were other hopeful signs for the Flyers on their 1-1 road trip.

They managed to kill off six of seven power plays in the two games, the only blemish coming in the final seconds of a penalty to Christian Folin following a brief five-on-three due to a too many men penalty.

Overall, Hakstol was satisfied.

“You play the game to get points,’’ he said. “We got two out of the four points on the road. For me, tonight, this was a game where points were available.

“There were a lot of things that can be sharper. The pace of our game was better tonight. Now we have to build on that.’’

Folin’s debut as a Flyer was not a particularly memorable one. In addition to taking an untimely hooking penalty with 5:22 to play (leading to Colin Wilson’s insurance goal), he also committed a costly turnover.

“Overall, he played a solid game,’’ Hakstol said. “Tough way to start, he was caught in a situation where he was two on one to our net. He did his job, as a defenseman you have to try to take one man, battle as hard as you can on the puck and he did that.

“I thought his play with the puck got stronger as the game went on.’’

Historic night for Couturier

Sean Couturier scored against Colorado in his 500th NHL game. At 25 years and 303 days, he becomes the youngest player in Flyers’ history to appear in 500 games. Trailing Couturier: Bob Kelly, 26 years, 98 days; Bob Clarke, 26-132; Bill Barber, 26-189; Brian Propp, 26-293; Ron Sutter, 26-356. Couturier is the 35th player to appear in 500 games for the Flyers.

 

Short shots

Hakstol on Elliott’s first two performances: “He’s done his job and I don’t need to say anymore than that. He’s played well.’’ . . .Shayne Gostisbehere on the Flyers’ power play, which is just one for seven after two games: “We could get a little hungrier in front of the net. Obviously it’s early, games like that when you know you’re in it and you let it slip away, it stings a little.’’

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 456 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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