Flyers

Carsen Twarynski does it again, German Rubtsov's faceoffs, more on Flyers' preseason loss to Bruins

Carsen Twarynski does it again, German Rubtsov's faceoffs, more on Flyers' preseason loss to Bruins

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The Flyers suffered their second overtime loss of the preseason Monday night with a 4-3 decision to the Bruins at TD Garden.

The team has lost four of its five exhibition games thus far and has two remaining.

"This is my 16th or 17th full season, I don't remember one of my preseason records," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said with a smile last Saturday. "You do want, though, the good feeling of winning. I'll give you that one."

There were plenty of more positives over the past two outings compared to the first three.

"I expect a set of cuts after the Monday game and then that will probably leave us with just a couple of decisions after the New York game, before going to Europe," Vigneault said Sunday.

Let's get into observations from the fifth game:

• Think Carsen Twarynski wants that roster spot?

A game after Vigneault called him the "best player on the ice," Twarynski scored another grind-it-out type of goal. He made a smart dump and chase and then wreaked havoc in front of the net to bat home the game-tying marker during the third period. His two goals over the past two games came on pure effort and he moves well for his size (6-2/206).

Twarynski knows exactly what the Flyers want and he's giving it to them.

• Kevin Hayes has been as advertised in three preseason games. The penalty kill prowess, the disruptive size, the puck protection.

He wants to be a one-two punch with Sean Couturier. The potential with the 27-year-old Hayes and 26-year-old Couturier is fun to picture.

• It's fair to wonder if German Rubtsov's faceoff abilities will impact his roster chances. Over his past three games, the 21-year-old center has lost 24 of 30 faceoffs.

Now, of course, performances in the circle are not everything as we saw last season with the Flyers, who led the league in faceoff percentage. That didn't prevent them from yielding the NHL's third-most goals per game at 3.41 and finishing with a minus-37 goal differential.

But it's something to keep an eye on with Rubtsov, who would be asked to kill penalties when faceoffs are crucial. He can play winger, as well.

• The hockey gods rewarded Connor Bunnaman for his effort with a go-ahead goal in the third period.

The 21-year-old has potential as a future depth forward and Vigneault recently said Bunnaman was one of the Flyers' "best conditioned athletes" in camp.

• Much of Vigneault's system is predicated on pinning the opposition in its own zone. One thing the Flyers can do more of this season is winning possession and creating offense behind the net. It's a great way to change the eyes of quality goalies and the Flyers did that in the first period on Travis Konecny's goal.

Couturier worked hard to put the Flyers in the offensive zone and a talented player like James van Riemsdyk did damage below the goal line. A good goaltender like Tuukka Rask had no chance.

• Andy Andreoff is a 28-year-old forward with positional versatility that the Flyers brought in on a one-way deal July 1. He had a productive 2018-19 with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch (26 goals, 29 assists) and was expected to compete for the Flyers' bottom-six jobs. However, he looks behind many of the Flyers' original internal options for those roster vacancies.

Andreoff has some skill and physicality, but he's been inconsistent and sloppy at times through three preseason games. During the second period Monday, he bobbled the puck as the Flyers were trying to transition up ice and then carelessly turned it over with a pass to the middle, giving the Bruins a scoring chance. Those are not the type of plays you want from a bottom-sixer.

He looked good early in camp, but games are the truest way to evaluate.

• Philippe Myers was better. He looked composed, made the simple pass, was tougher and broke up plays. A positive game from the 22-year-old defenseman.

• Brian Elliott played the full game and wasn't sharp with 18 saves on 22 shots. He tried to corral a rebound in overtime and it squeezed through his legs for the winning goal.

A few of the goals were tough ones for the 34-year-old, including David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand hooking up on a 2-on-1 during the middle period.

• Mark Friedman misplayed the Jakub Lauko goal in the first period as the Bruins' center played the puck to himself, but the Flyers weren't very good on that sequence overall. Nicolas Aube-Kubel flew by Lauko in the neutral zone and Rubtsov was a bit slow getting back.

• The Flyers will practice Tuesday and Wednesday before playing the Rangers Thursday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m./no local broadcast).

The team flies out to Switzerland Friday ahead of its preseason finale next Monday against HC Lausanne (2 p.m./NBCSP+).

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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

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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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