Flyers

Flyers bring back hope and confidence — how long can that last?

Flyers bring back hope and confidence — how long can that last?

It was the perfect getaway at just the right time.

When the Flyers left Philadelphia on Oct. 27, their ears were still ringing from the deafening tone of boos heard throughout the Wells Fargo Center along with the scattered chants of “Fire Hakstol.” The charter couldn’t depart the Philadelphia International tarmac fast enough at the time.

“It was a long flight out here,” head coach Dave Hakstol told reporters Monday. “It seems like it was more than 10 days ago, but 10 days ago that was a long flight out here. It was a long couple of days leading up to that first game in Anaheim.”

The players talked all week how a cross-country getaway was the perfect way to end a three-game losing streak. Leave the distractions behind and focus on the simple task of playing good, solid hockey.

They separated business from pleasure. As friends, they palled around in the Hollywood Hills, dug their feet in the Santa Monica sand and took in some long, deep breaths in the Arizona desert. As teammates, the Flyers promptly took care of business, sweeping SoCal and earning seven out of a possible eight points in a near-perfect four-game road trip that was punctuated by a 5-2 win Monday over the Coyotes (see observations). In the process, the Flyers outscored their opponents 16-10.

It simply couldn’t have gone any better.

In just over 240 minutes of hockey, the Flyers never trailed at any point during these previous four games — a complete turnaround from having trailed at some point in each of their first 11 games of the season.

“We’re pretty happy about our road trip here,” Sean Couturier said. “But we can’t be satisfied. We’ve got to come back home and have a good stretch at home and build on this road trip and keep climbing in the standings.”

Ten days of beautiful, balmy 75-degree weather are coming to an abrupt end. The team will leave Phoenix and return to Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon, hoping this Western Conference swing galvanizes it for an upcoming five-game homestand at the Wells Fargo Center, where it will play seven of its next nine games.

After soaking up the summer vibes out West, the Flyers will now be greeted with an autumn-like chill where the leaves are changing and gray, gloomy skies are signs that we’re knee deep into fall weather. It’s the same kind of frigid reception that could be confronting them if they don’t bring back the same type of inspired hockey passionate fans had to stay up until midnight to watch.

There are no more getaways on the schedule until early December.

From West to back East, it can all go south in a hurry if the Flyers don’t change their ways on South Broad, where they seem to grip the sticks a little tighter and hang their heads a little lower when things don’t go their way. They’re 2-4-0 at home with a goal differential of minus-12. The power play is 1 for 15 over the last five games on home ice.

Even with their recent success, the Flyers are still just as close to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division as they are to the top.

“There’s nothing to get excited about right now,” general manager Ron Hextall told reporters before Monday's game.

Maybe not, but as of now, the Flyers are feeling as confident as they have since winning the season opener in Vegas a month ago.

Don’t go and ruin all of that goodwill on home ice.

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Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• The Flyers' depth at forward is being seriously tested.

The team is without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

Going into their three-game road trip, the Flyers have only 12 healthy forwards. In his fifth stint with the big club since the beginning of 2018-19, Mikhail Vorobyev is centering the Flyers' fourth line. The 22-year-old is in audition mode yet again with the Flyers and will have to be noticeable in limited minutes to stick.

How Vorobyev performs moving forward and the Flyers' depth concerns could open the door for Connor Bunnaman. The 21-year-old forward made the Flyers' season-opening roster. He's healthy again with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley after missing nearly a full month because of a lower-body injury.

Bunnaman brings size and positional versatility as the 6-foot-3, 214-pounder can player either center or winger. This past week, Bunnaman scored a goal and had eight shots in three games.

The Flyers may want to have him play more games with the Phantoms before calling him up. However, they may need him soon. Bunnaman has Raffl-like potential and ability.

On Sept. 26, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke highly of the 2016 fourth-round pick who scored 19 goals in 62 games with Lehigh Valley last season and two goals this preseason.

He’s been the best player in training camp. He was outstanding in the practices. ... By best player, I mean in terms of expectations. He’s come in and blown them away.

He honestly seems twice as fast this year to last year. I know we make a habit of saying players are quicker and faster but this guy is legitimately much faster than last year and he scored 19 goals last year, had a heck of a year in the American League.

There’s no reason to doubt that he can play some games for us this year.

The Phantoms play Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Flyers play Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Keep an eye on Bunnaman and the big club's bottom-six depth.

Quick hits

• Noah Cates is continuing to turn heads.

As a sophomore, the 2017 fifth-round pick leads defending national champion Minnesota Duluth with nine goals and is a point-per-game player (16 points in 16 contests).

The 20-year-old winger is coming off a four-point weekend (three goals, one assist) in the Bulldogs' two-game sweep of Omaha.

The Flyers couldn't stop bragging about Cates this summer and are probably bragging some more to each other this week.

"I just need to play the way I can play, especially these next couple years with my development," Cates said in June. "They're on board with that, they're happy with where I'm at, but I've got to keep making strides."

He's doing just that.

• Cam York, the Flyers' 2019 first-round pick, recorded a goal and an assist in Michigan's 4-1 win over Penn State last Friday.

The mobile and skilled puck-moving defenseman owns nine points (four goals, five assists) in 14 games as a freshman.

• Egor Zamula enjoyed a three-point weekend for the Calgary Hitmen.

The 19-year-old is third among WHL defensemen with 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 28 games and has a plus-19 rating.

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Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

VOORHEES, N.J. — Monday started with bad news for the Flyers.

Travis Konecny, their 22-year-old leading scorer, is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Konecny was leveled in open ice by Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki during the first period of the Flyers' 4-3 win Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. He left the game and never returned.

The 2015 first-round pick is on pace to shatter his career highs. He's been arguably the Flyers’ most important piece to their turnaround through 30 games of 2019-20.

He has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) after having 28 points through the team's first 50 games last season. The Flyers are 2-4-4 in games that he hasn't scored.

I didn’t know a ton about him. I knew he competed like hell, fiery player," Matt Niskanen, in his first year with the Flyers, said Monday. "Playing with him, that’s reinforced that thought — hungry on the puck, good quickness, really good at creating turnovers. He’s shown a pretty good scoring touch, too, so far this year. A lot of good tools and he’s been a really important player for us.

Philippe Myers left the Flyers' skill practice Monday with back spasms. With Konecny out and Myers potentially out for Wednesday's game in Colorado against the Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Flyers will most likely have only 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen to open a three-game road trip.

Niskanen, who has 125 career postseason games on his résumé and a Stanley Cup title, said this can be a good challenge for the Flyers. The team is 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for the most points in the NHL at 28 since Nov. 1 (see weekly observations).

"Both guys have played really well for us," he said. "Hopefully they come back, we've been on a pretty good run here. But it gives somebody an opportunity and it tests us a little bit — and that's OK, early in the year, you're going to have to learn to deal with things."

As of Monday morning, the Flyers did not have plans to make a call-up. Forward Chris Stewart will enter the lineup and defenseman Robert Hagg will, as well, if Myers is unable to go in Colorado.

Head coach Alain Vigneault said it's uncertain if Konecny will or can travel with the Flyers. The team flies to Denver Tuesday afternoon.

"At this time, I would say no," Vigneault said, "but you never know how things change."

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