How Konecny is making Giroux, Couturier even better

How Konecny is making Giroux, Couturier even better

So much has been made of Travis Konecny benefitting from playing alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier.

And while that is true, Konecny is also doing his part. The 20-year-old is making those first-line studs better, too.

After all, speed kills, right?

"It creates a lot of room for us," Giroux said Thursday. "Guys respect his speed and they've got to back off a little bit."

It's not like Giroux and Couturier needed any help with creating separation or space. With Konecny's climb to the top unit, that's been the result and it's meant trouble for opponents. Not only is Konecny making a dent in the scoring column, but Giroux and Couturier also aren't slowing down.

"When he's put in the right situations, I think T.K. is going to flourish," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "He's definitely a confident player, you can see him making plays. He's making some really nice plays, he's fitting well with Coots and G there. I know they're building him up to go out and make those plays."

Joining Giroux and Couturier, Konecny has recorded 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in his last 18 games dating back to Dec. 28 for a plus-8 rating. Giroux has 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) over that stretch, while Couturier has 21 points, including 11 goals, tied for fourth in the NHL since Dec. 28 entering Friday's action.

The Flyers are 11-6-1 over that time and now lead the Eastern Conference's wild-card race with 28 games remaining.

"He battles, he's got speed, a little attitude on him," Giroux said. "He's fun to play with because he beats guys 1-on-1, he usually makes the right play … he's fun to play with.

"He gets on that forecheck, finishes his hit, he gets the loose pucks. This year, you can see that he's a little bit more comfortable and that's just normal."

With two goals Thursday, Konecny has 13 through 54 games, already topping his total of 11 last season through 70 games. He's currently a plus-7 compared to his minus-2 last year as a rookie. For a first-round pick that scored in waves at the junior level, Konecny paired with top-end talent in the NHL seemed like a no-brainer.

"T.K. has been playing well for quite a while before he got together with Coots and G," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "Now he's probably getting the benefits of a few more opportunities coming his way, but I don't think he's changed his game a whole lot."

He doesn't have to playing with a guy like Giroux.

"When he has the puck, it's just a matter if you're in the right spot, he's going to put it on your tape," Konecny said. "I think that's just the moral of the story for me and Coots is just getting to the right areas and letting him do his thing."

Konecny doing his thing is just as important.

2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

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2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

We began our 2018 NHL draft position previews with a look at the top draft-eligible centers. This draft is top-heavy at wing and defense. We continue our previews with a look at left wingers.

Filip Zadina, 6-0/195, Halifax (QMJHL)
Zadina, who finished as the third-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, led all QMJHL rookies and was tied for seventh among all players in 2017-18 with 82 points. He won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the league’s best professional prospect. Playing for the Czech Republic, Zadina was named to the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship All-Star team, scoring eight points in seven games. Hard-working winger with an elite shot, future top-liner.

Draft projection: Top three

Brady Tkachuk, 6-3/196, Boston University (NCAA)
The son of USA Hockey Hall of Famer Keith Tkachuk and brother of Matthew Tkachuk (Flames), Brady Tkachuk checks in as the second-best North American skater by Central Scouting. Had eight goals and 31 points in 40 games during his freshman season at Boston University and added three goals and nine points in seven games during the world juniors. He plays a physical game much like his dad and brother but has a little more finesse to it.

Draft projection: Top five

Joel Farabee, 6-0/164, USNTDP
Farabee finished as the 12th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Possesses excellent speed and a strong shot and plays an effective two-way game. A little undersized but the game has changed, so that shouldn’t be a major issue. He had 15 goals and 40 points in 26 games for Team USA in the USHL in 2017-18, and 33 goals and 76 points in 64 games for the USA U-18 team in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

Draft projection: Between Nos. 10-18

Grigori Denisenko, 5-11/176, Yarolsavl Jr (Russia)
Denisenko saw a three-spot drop from the Central Scouting midterm rankings to the final, finishing as the seventh-best European skater. He’s gifted with the puck and makes plays, but he has a bit of a reputation as an inconsistent player. The Russian factor may scare teams away. Had nine goals and 22 points in 31 games in the MHL and played four games in the KHL playoffs. On talent alone, Denisenko is among the best in this year’s class.

Draft projection: Mid-to-late first round

Blake McLaughlin, 6-0/162, Chicago (USHL)
McLaughlin checks in as the 24th-rated North American skater by Central Scouting. Another American prospect among the top draft-eligible left wingers, McLaughlin’s best attribute is his shot, though he’s an excellent skater. He finished the 2017-18 season with the Chicago Steel as nearly a point-per-game player, scoring 23 goals and 52 points in 54 games. He’s headed to the University of Minnesota in the fall. Could squeak into late first round but probably a second-rounder.

Draft projection: Early second round

NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

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NBC Sports Philadelphia+ to air Lehigh Valley Phantoms Eastern Conference Finals Games

Philadelphia, PA (May 18, 2018) — NBC Sports Philadelphia announced today the network will air the American Hockey League Eastern Conference Finals games featuring the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Toronto Marlies. Games Three through Five will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 7 p.m.
May 23 - Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 3 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 25** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 4 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+

May 26*** — Toronto Marlies at Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Game 5 – 7pm on NBC Sports Philadelphia+, *if necessary
** Philadelphia Soul will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

*** The Philadelphia Phillies game will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia, regardless if there is a Game 5 or not.

Atlantic Division Champions for the 2017-18 season, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face off against the Toronto Marlies, AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The winner of the best-of-seven series will then advance to the 2018 Calder Cup Finals. After posting the AHL’s second-most wins (47) and second-most standings points (105), the top-seeded Phantoms eliminated the Providence Bruins in four games (3-1) in the opening round before defeating the Charlotte Checkers in five games (4-1) in the Atlantic Division Finals — a series which included the historic longest game in AHL history.