The reigning Eastern Conference champions opened up the 2010-2011 season just the way they wanted too. They went into the Pittsburgh Penguins new Consol Energy Center and ruined the homecoming. The Penguins, led by possibly the most hated hockey player in the NHL Sidney Crosby, just couldn’t seem to solve Sergei Bobrovsky. The 22 year old Russian rookie stopped 29 of 31 shots and became the first Flyers rookie goaltender to win his NHL debut since Antero Niittymaki in 2004 against the Capitals.

The Flyers can take a lot from this win. They did it without their presence of Chris Pronger who was out with a knee injury. It was his first missed game in three years. The Flyers can also look at some other positives from the night as they look to repeat as Eastern Conference champions.

5) Nikolay Zherdev looked good but only played 10 minutes. With Zherdev the question has never been talent but effort. In his two previous stops in the NHL (Columbus and New York) he would go on a tear and show the talent that made him the number four overall pick in the 2004 draft. But then there would be long stretches where he was the invisible man.

Zherdev looks to finally be motivated. After the 2008-2009 season he was finally granted his free agency but it was late into the free agent process and most teams already had their rosters filled out. It forced Zherdev to have to go and play in the KHL for a year. He signed with the Flyers for just 1 million dollars, a bargain considering the arbitrator awarded Zherdev a one year, 3.9 million dollar deal in 2009. Zherdev could be looking for the big pay day that he was searching for in New York. He should off some of his skills on Thursday night and looked to have decent chemistry with the third line. If he decides to produce, then watch out.

4) The Time management skills or Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette is something to be admired. Many Flyers fans joke that Andy Reid should take a class with him and he proved why on Thursday. The Flyers came out and allowed the Penguins to pepper Bobrovsky with shot after shot. The young goalie was tested early and Laviolette decided to call a time out. Right after the time out Claude Giroux almost cashed in.

If you remember back to last season the Flyers were down three goals in a game seven to the Boston Bruins and Laviolette called a time out. The Flyers went on to score, and eventually come back and win the game. Laviolette might be the best move Paul Holmgren has made as a GM. The no nonsense coach brought a team from the abyss to the Stanley Cup last season in just half the time. Imagine what he’s going to do when he has these guys for a full year.

3) James van Riemsdyk looked really good. The second year forward played on the third line along with Claude Giroux and Zherdev and added his first assist of the season on a Blair Betts goal. Van Riemsdyk put up very solid numbers in his rookie year, scoring 15 goals and 20 assists. The former second overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft looked strong on the puck and looked in really good shape. It’s crucial for guys like van Riemsdyk and Giroux to come up big for the Flyers this season because there really the only young threat the team has.

2) Is there anything bad you can say about Claude Giroux? I described Claude Giroux to a friend as “the Chase Utley of the Flyers” because he is such a smart and talented player. I’ve always liked his puck handling ability since he was playing in the QJMHL but I was unaware of the smarts the kid had.

He really impressed me in the playoffs last season when he was able to kill of about 30 seconds of a penalty just by himself. He got the puck along the boards and proceeded to play keep away from two Bruins. He solidified my earlier comparison to Utley on Thursday by poke checking a puck away from Pittsburgh defensemen Chris Letang, and scoring a beautiful shorthanded goal.

Giroux had a good 2009-2010 season which was his first full season in the NHL. He put up 16 goals and added 31 assists for 47 points. He also had just 23 penalty minutes. This guy is on the brink of a break out year.

1) Have the Flyers finally solved their 20+ year search for a goalie? Sergei Bobrovsky wowed Flyers fans in the pre season, and in a move that came as a surprise to the Orange and Black faithful he was named the opening night starter. Peter Laviolette chose Bobrovsky over the veteran Brian Boucher and it seems to have paid off.

With incumbent goalie Michael Leighton out the first month with back problems that gives Bobrovsky enough time to cement himself as the Flyers starting goalie for the rest of the season. He did a good job of it Thursday as he faced a lot of shots early and stood tough in the face of a strong Pittsburgh offense. If Bobrovsky can continue the success he had in the pre season, and on Thursday, then there is no need to think that they can’t go back to the Stanley Cup.