Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Flyers’ Vigneault sends message with Travis Konecny healthy scratch

Flyers' Vigneault sends message with Travis Konecny healthy scratch

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 03: Travis Konecny #11 of the Philadelphia Flyers takes the ice before Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Arena on September 03, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Sometimes NHL coaches make moves that are almost impossible to defend on-paper, but serve a larger strategy. Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault provided a big example of that in making Travis Konecny a healthy scratch on Saturday.

Again, from a sheer hockey perspective, it’s a bad decision to healthy scratch Travis Konecny. Apologies, but that’s especially true when it means swapping out Konecny for Samuel Morin.

But what about “sending a message?” Your mileage will vary.

Flyers’ Vigneault boldly makes Konecny a healthy scratch

In Alain Vigneault’s eyes, making Konecny a healthy scratch is a wake-up call -- to the player, and maybe to the Flyers as a whole.

In assessing this move, it’s crucial to peel back the layers. In doing so ... it’s still a debatable decision.

If you take too much of a bird’s-eye view, it may look especially absurd. For a team dealing with Sean Couturier’s absence, it sounds downright silly to healthy scratch Konecny. The 23-year-old has eight points in as many games so far this season.

When you break things down, it’s clearer that things aren’t going that well for him. Consider that, in the past three games, Konecny only has an assist and registered just a single shot on goal.

Criticizing his even-strength play is fair, too, as he’s been brutal by plenty of metrics.

Considering the grinding style of play of the Islanders, you might want an all-hands-on-deck mentality.

Far from the only problem

Even so, it feels a bit unfair to single out Konecny with this healthy scratch. At times this season, the Flyers have struggled as a team at even-strength. They’re probably lucky to sport a respectable 5-2-1 record.

At the moment, the Flyers are a team that’s losing the shot volume game, while aiming to win the high-danger chance battles.

That’s fine -- if not exactly exhilarating to watch -- but it’s a style that might expose certain skill players. As much as this might “wake up” Konecny, it could also create a disconnect between player and coach. And it makes it less likely that the Flyers would be able to “outscore their problems.”

In other words, it’s a risk. We’ll see if it pays off. It might even come down to how you view things. If there’s a turnaround, will it be because of this move, or maybe even in spite of it? We’ll see.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.