The road trip to Western Canada is already a success.
The Philadelphia Flyers picked up victories in Edmonton and Vancouver on consecutive nights, vaulting them into third place in the Metropolitan Division standings as of Friday morning. They’ll wrap things up on Saturday in Calgary.
Flyers Strike Fast
“I didn’t miss the back-to-backs in Canada, that’s for sure, with the travelling,” said captain Claude Giroux after his team’s 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. “But, you know what? When we got the lead, we made sure we were responsible with the puck. We made the right plays, played the right way. We weren’t cheating for offense and because of that, we were able to get the win.”
With assists on both Flyers goals on Thursday night, Giroux extended his season-opening point streak, with four goals and four assists in six games. He earned some style points for using the end boards to set up James van Riemsdyk on a power-play tic-tac-toe play for what proved to be the game-winner.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 29, 2021
“They’ve done that a few times,” smiled coach Alain Vigneault after the game. “It’s something that they’ve got in their repertoire that they use now and then. Tonight, it was the right play at the right time.”
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 29, 2021
Martin Jones Stands Tall
Riding high after handing the Edmonton Oilers their first loss of the season on Wednesday night, the Flyers came out — well, flying — on Thursday in Vancouver.
They outshot the Canucks 15-4 in the opening frame, then leaned on backup goaltender Martin Jones to backstop them to the win through the final 40 minutes, when the Canucks held a 24-13 shot advantage.
“He was an all-star tonight, he played extremely well,” said Vigneault. “The second and third period, there’s no doubt that he was a big difference in us getting this win tonight.”
“He was very clutch,” said Giroux, who jokingly needled Jones for letting “a weak one in” when Quinn Hughes tied the game 1-1 at 2:15 of the first.
“After that, he shut the door,” Giroux said. “He gave us a chance to to win this game and we did our best in front of him, especially on the P.K., to help him out. But he made some huge saves.”
After being bought out of the final three years of his contract with the San Jose Sharks during the offseason, Jones is now 2-0-0 with the Flyers, with a 2.01 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.
A native of North Vancouver, Jones is now 7-1-1 all-time at Rogers Arena, where he grew up as his father, Harvey, worked in arena operations.
Strong D Without Ellis
Though Vigneault had been hopeful that Ryan Ellis would be fit to play on this road trip, the injury that sidelined him last week against Florida kept him on the shelf against both Edmonton and Vancouver. Justin Braun has played well in an elevated role with Ivan Provorov.
“He’s been awesome, going up against some some big matchups, some good lines,” said Sean Couturier of the veteran Braun. “He’s playing some solid hockey, is probably frustrating to play against. Has got a good stick and is always in your face.
“He’s one of the many guys who are stepping up right now in different moments. It’s nice to see, kind of, everyone contributing.”
Nick Seeler has slotted into Braun’s regular spot on the third pairing, and both blueliners have played important minutes on the penalty kill. It was a perfect 5-for-5 against Vancouver and gave up just one goal in Edmonton, where the Oilers boast a league-best power play that has clicked at better than 40% so far this season.
Before Thursday’s game, Vigneault expressed doubt about whether Ellis would draw back in against the Flames on Saturday.
“He skated today and again, he’s day-to-day,” the coach said. “He’s improving every day, but he’s not quite there yet. So, not optimistic for Saturday, but it still is a possibility.”
Patrick Brown Debuts
Acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights off the waiver wire on October 11, center Patrick Brown made his debut in the orange and black on Thursday. With Nicolas Aube-Kubel healthy scratched, Brown logged 9:45 of ice time. He skated on a fourth line with Nate Thompson and Zack MacEwen, and also logged some time on the penalty kill.
“I like his energy,” Vigneault said. “What our management and our scouts had said about him being a direct player, an honest, hard-working energy guy — that’s what you see. And that’s what we saw tonight.”
Determined to flip the script after a disappointing 2020-21 season, the Flyers are headed in the right direction.
The 4-1-1 start is the Flyers' best of the Alain Vigneault era.
The nine points also match the Flyers' most through six games of a season since 2011-12. They started 4-1-1 that year, as well.
Martin Jones is 2-0-0 with 64 saves on 68 shots.
— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) October 29, 2021
They’ll finish off their road trip in Calgary on Saturday, against a red-hot opponent. Darryl Sutter‘s Flames are returning to the Saddledome after sweeping a five-game Eastern road trip, with wins over Detroit, Washington, the Rangers, the Devils, and Pittsburgh.
Once again, puck drop will be at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday.
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