By Tom Dougherty


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Carter Hart was perfect, literally, and everything that could have gone right for the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night went right. The Flyers crushed the New Jersey Devils, 4-0, at the Wells Fargo Center in their home opener that was never really a game.

Hart made 25 saves to record his first career shutout.

Ivan Provorov had a goal and an assist, Kevin Hayes recorded his first goal as a Flyer, Sean Couturier had his first of the season and Travis Konecny scored his third of the year.

The Flyers’ power play was lethal, scoring two goals on four opportunities. Their penalty kill was even better, killing off all five power plays.

Here are five observations from the Flyers’ win.

1. Any optimism surrounding the Flyers before the season started centered around Hart. On Wednesday night, the 21-year-old reminded everyone why.

Hart, making his first career home-opening start, was outstanding. He made the saves he needed to make and made the difficult ones too. He finished with 25 saves in his first career shutout.

It didn’t take him long to put on a show at the Wells Fargo Center. In the first period, Hart denied Devils winger Taylor Hall on a backdoor opportunity. He played it perfectly and turned in a highlight-reel save.

Hart received a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of the second period. More games like this and the fanbase may erect a statue of him soon. The Flyers may actually have a goalie.

2. Last year, this story would have ended differently. The Flyers were dominating play by all means in the second period but took two mindless penalties — a delay of game and a faceoff violation — to give New Jersey two full minutes of 5-on-3. The Flyers would have become undone last season.

Instead, the Flyers’ penalty killers were aggressive and killed it off. Hart deserves a ton of credit for it too. He didn’t give the Devils much to shoot at, and he turned in the save of the game.

There was something noticeably different about the PK, however. They killed off four second-period power plays, and they did so by being extremely aggressive. They generated a few scoring chances too.

The Flyers won this game first, because of Hart and second, because of their penalty kill.

3. There were a couple of things to note about the Flyers’ first goal of the game. The second power-play unit struck twine when Provorov uncorked a rocket past Devils goalie Cory Schneider.

Both of those have been somewhat rare occurrences. The Flyers’ second PP units — dating back years now — hasn’t brought much to the table. It’s been ineffective and the Flyers have relied heavily on their top unit.

If that can change this season, it would be a major bonus.

Secondly, Provorov hasn’t had much success on the power play yet. Just two years ago, he led NHL defensemen with 17 goals. Just two of those came on the PP.

Provorov’s PPG on Wednesday was just his third career marker on the man advantage. The 22-year-old blueliner has all the tools of a top-pair player with offensive upside.

Shayne Gostisbehere is the Flyers’ top power-play quarterback, but Provorov may be the key for the Orange and Black to unlock their second PP unit. It was a good showing Wednesday.

4. Wayne Simmonds had a quiet night in his first game back in Philly since the Flyers traded him in February. He had a couple of scoring chances that Hart easily denied and wasn’t too active in the extracurriculars.

Flyers fans did him right, though, when the team honored his time in Philadelphia with a video tribute in the first period. They paraded the winger with cheers and a standing ovation.

Then when it was over, they sarcastically booed him. Simmonds wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Simmonds opened up about how things ended in Philly before the game and had some strong comments, but nothing out of the line. Simmonds got the ovation he deserved, the Flyers won and all was right.

5. The last time the Flyers began the season 2-0-0 was also the last time they won a playoff series. It’s two games, which doesn’t exactly qualify as a scientific sample size. We’ll have a better understanding of where things stand when the Flyers return from out West next week. There remains work to do as the players continue to learn Alain Vigneault’s systems.

That said, it’s easy to harp on the negatives, to say it’s only two games. The Flyers notoriously have gotten off to slow starts, and it’s the chief reason why Vigneault is even here. It’s completely fair to be skeptical. But the Vigneault era is off and running.

Two games in and the Flyers have two wins and plenty of positives. It’s early, but perhaps Flyers fans can learn a lesson from Kylo Ren: Let the past die.

It’s a new season with new leaders. Let’s give this a chance.

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