Flyers

Even just going to work has become awkward for Flyers players

Even just going to work has become awkward for Flyers players

VOORHEES, N.J. — It’s a strange, bizarre and even troubling time in Flyers Nation right now.

For the players, these past few days have felt like walking into a glass-plated funhouse or taking a tour of the old Eastern State Penitentiary. They’re not exactly sure what’s around the next corner or behind the next door, but they’re not the type of surprises that put smiles on their faces. 

They sit in their locker stall taking in a few more deep, heavy breaths trying to process what has transpired and what it could mean for their futures. A couple of the younger players are seen whispering with the equipment staff. They’ve never been through this before. 

The Ron Hextall tenure over the last four-plus seasons signified patience and stability. Now, all signs point to upheaval and turmoil. 

“I don’t know what the next step is going to be,” Jakub Voracek said. “So far no trades. I don’t know if they will. I don’t know what they want to do. We are all good friends, so obviously it is hard when you get traded or some of your friends get traded.”

There’s only a handful of players on the current roster who have experienced this degree of tumultuous turnover. Only Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux have dealt with anything remotely similar to what the players are witnessing right now. 

Voracek was steadfast in his position that the core group is sticking together despite a lack of postseason success that has seen the franchise without a playoff series win since 2012.

I think I would be a coward if I just ran away. If I get traded, then I get traded. If I stay here, my job is to do everything in my power to help this team become the best team they can be. S--- hits the fan, just let’s get out? That’s not how it works. That’s not how I was raised. I don’t think anyone in this locker room is thinking this way.

But still, they’re thinking and they’re wondering. It’s only human nature. 

When they leave the rink and go home, they’ll be busy answering questions from their wives or girlfriends who can only wonder by this time next month if they’re contacting a realtor two or three times zones away.

“Obviously thoughts go into your mind. That kind of stuff, you can’t be thinking about it,” Giroux said. “We’re lucky enough we’ve got guys like you to put it into our heads, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to go out there and play our game and do our job. That type of stuff you can’t worry about because you can’t control it.”

Even Wednesday’s practice lacked high energy and emotion. Today, they’re playing for Dave Hakstol. Next week could be Phantoms coach Scott Gordon or whoever a new general manager elects to bring in.

With a scheduled day off Thursday, the players can temporarily decompress from what has been a very tempestuous week between a front office shake-up and a complete meltdown against the Senators Tuesday night. 

Somehow, they must find a way to regroup before facing the Penguins on Saturday.  

“As frustrating and pissed off as we are right now, we've got to find the confidence that we can have and how we can play as a team,” Giroux said.

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2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

BOX SCORE

Travis Konecny stormed into the NHL All-Star break already with a new career high in assists. The Flyers' winger has 26 helpers and is projected to finish with 44, a sign of significant growth in a breakout 2019-20 season for the 22-year-old.

On Saturday night in the 2020 All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Konecny put his facilitating on display during the 3-on-3 action featuring the world's best players. He finished with three assists in the Metropolitan Division's 9-5 semifinal loss to the Atlantic Division.

"I had a lot of fun," Konecny said Saturday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "It was pretty funny, I was watching my parents in the stands and my mom didn't understand why we weren't playing like a real game.

"It's my first game and it's her first time seeing it. I don't know if she was expecting me to be blocking shots and forechecking, stuff like that. I had a lot of fun with it.

"It was a really cool experience, getting to play with some players, too, that I usually won't get the chance to play with was fun."

Konecny playing in his first All-Star Game at 22 years old should be exciting for the Flyers. Claude Giroux was 23 years old for his first All-Star Game back in 2011. The future looks bright for Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract back in mid-September.

With 17 goals and 43 points through 47 games, Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting career highs across the board.

A breakout, indeed.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's first All-Star Game:

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Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be hopeful about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Today, we break down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. On Sunday, we’ll look at the reasons for concern.

Through 50 games, the Flyers have done two important things. They’ve played well within the division and have dominated at home. 

Those two trends bode well for after the All-Star break because divisional games become much bigger and confidence at home is paramount as the pressure builds.

The Flyers are 17-4-4 at home and 9-2-3 against Metropolitan foes. The marks are notable given the Flyers fell sorely short in those areas last season, when they finished 19-18-4 at home and 10-16-2 in divisional play.

Another positive is the Flyers are getting healthier after the break. Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) could be back Friday in the Flyers’ first game out of the bye week, while Carter Hart (abdominal strain) is expected to return not long after.

But what might be the Flyers’ most convincing piece of evidence for optimism is how they’ve performed against the NHL’s best teams. The Flyers have shown they can play with any club, which is huge for their own belief moving forward.

The Flyers are 11th in the NHL standings at 27-17-6. They've gone 9-5-3 against the top-10 teams and 5-1-1 vs. the top four.

Head coach Alain Vigneault has a history of taking teams to the playoffs, and doing so in Year 1 on the job. At his previous three stops (Canadiens, Canucks, Rangers), each of his first seasons produced playoff bids and at least one series victory.

Vigneault’s track record will be tested over the Flyers’ final 32 games.

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