It was a beautiful sight last night as Flyers hockey returned to television as they had their first preseason game against the New York Islanders. While the results didn’t go in their favor with a 3-2 overtime loss, there were a lot of positives to take away from the preseason opener.
Last season it was no secret that Carter Hart struggled and that was a key reason that the Flyers as a whole struggled. Last night though Carter Hart looked like the old Carter Hart, he was aggressive and made him self big in between the pipes. Hart played the first two periods of the game before coming out in favor of Samuel Ersson. In those 40 minutes of game time Hart stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced. The important thing is that he looked comfortable and showed signs that he still can be that great franchise goaltender we all expect him to be. After last years struggles, it is important that Hart has a bounce back year as he is a main key to the Flyers success.
One of the biggest offseason additions that Chuck Fletcher made was going out and acquiring veteran defenseman Ryan Ellis. In his preseason debut he logged 23 minutes and contributed in a lot of ways that really stood out. Ellis had 4 blocked shots and for most of the night was paired with Ivan Provorov which is looking like it’ll be the top pair for the Flyers going into the season. Ellis also had a few shifts with a few of the younger guys which will only help them grow as they fight for a spot on the team. The biggest thing I noticed out of Ellis game was his ability to just get the puck on net. Ellis led the Flyers last night with 6 shots on net and the next closest to him was Cam Atkinson with 4. Having a guy on the backend that can just find a way to get pucks on the net is going to be crucial for the Flyers. Not only will it be a great benefit in 5 on 5 play but it will really help get their power play back to where it needs to be.
Maybe the best thing to come out of last night was the performance of Oskar Lindblom. We all know what he had to go through in order to come back last season and I think we can all agree that was a major factor as to why his performance wasn’t what we had hoped. But last night, Lindblom looked like the Lindblom of old and my god it was awesome to see. He was flying around out there last night and just overall looked much stronger and faster than he did last season. If the Flyers are going to get back to the point where they were two years ago Lindblom is a key part in that as the Flyers will need his goal scoring ability to get them back into consideration of being a Stanley Cup contender.
I for one could not be happier that Flyers hockey is back and I am beyond excited for this season to start. After last years debacle and an offseason full of changes everyones excitement level for the Flyers should be high. This isn’t going to be the same team of the last few years. Plus with none of the other Philly sports teams having anything good going right now it’s the perfect time for Philadelphia to turn into a full on hockey town.