Flyers

Red-hot Konecny aims to keep it going vs. Capitals

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USA Today Images

Red-hot Konecny aims to keep it going vs. Capitals

WASHINGTON — Travis Konecny is the hottest goal scorer in Washington D.C. right now, and considering that also includes Alex Ovechkin and his 588 career goals, that’s a significant statement for the Flyers' second-year forward.

Konecny, currently on a four-game goal streak, is looking to pick up right where he left off prior to the All-Star break, and right now that means sticking with the routine. Despite the heavy workload that lies ahead on the Flyers' schedule, Konecny was on the ice for Wednesday’s optional morning skate whereas a handful of veterans usually elect for the rest.

“Honestly, if I wake up and I feel like I need one, I’ll definitely take one,” Konecny said. “I’ll probably take one going into the last stretch here, but as of now, I feel good when I step out on the ice and it’s good to shoot the puck around a little bit.”

Konecny returns to D.C., where he “capitalized” on his overtime opportunity playing alongside Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov. It was the first of back-to-back OT winners, and impressively Konecny has provided the game-winning goal in four of the Flyers' last eight victories. It’s all part of the evolution from a rookie negotiating his first season in the NHL to a second-year veteran who knows what to expect.

“I definitely feel good, more confident and what I need to do off the ice to be able to stay in right shape," Konecny said. "Our training staff has set us up pretty good as far as the way we take care of our body, the things we eat and what we put into our bodies.”

Along with a half-dozen teammates, Konecny switched out his wrist shots for chip shots over All-Star weekend and enjoyed a two-day golf trip to the Miami area to play at the Trump National Doral and the course more famously known as “The Blue Monster.”

As if navigating the final 33 games of the NHL’s regular season wasn’t challenging enough, Konecny along with Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Brandon Manning elected to play the 7,288-yard course from the back tees in 25-30 mile an hour winds. Leier said just breaking 90 on the scorecard was a challenge.  

Rookie Nolan Patrick jokingly reasoned that Konecny’s scoring touch also coincided when the two players were paired together on the road, which started a few weeks ago.

“Yeah, room with Nolan Patrick,” Konecny said with a smile, “Ever since I’ve been with him the team’s been doing well. We’ll keep that going.” 

Ovie tops 100 MPH
If it wasn’t obvious before, Capitals superstar sniper Alex Ovechkin proved at the All-Star festivities that he possesses one of the hardest shots in the NHL, as he won the hardest shot competition for the first time in his 13-year career. Ovechkin had claimed the title after his first attempt, but chose to take another crack at topping triple digits. Ovechkin uncorked a drive at 101.3 mph and Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth definitely took notice.

“I watched the skills (contest) and I played with Alex for five years, and I know a lot of times he’s just shooting as hard as he can and shooting at the net,” Neuvirth said, “Sometimes he doesn’t even know where he’s shooting and that’s why he’s so good, because there’s no way you can stop it even when the shooter doesn’t know where it’s going.”  

Stat of the Day
Regardless of tonight’s outcomes around the league, the Flyers and the Bruins are the only two teams to record at least eight wins in each of the past two months. The Flyers finished December with an 8-4-1 mark and they enter the final game of January with an 8-3-0 record. 

More importantly, the Flyers are 5-2-4 in the Metropolitan Division as they’ve earned points in all but two of their 11 divisional contests.

“Every point is critical. That’s probably an understatement,” said head coach Dave Hakstol, “It comes back to doing everything within your power to gain points night in and night out, regardless of the situation and regardless of the opponent.”

Expected lines & pairings
Giroux-Couturier-Konecny

Voracek-Patrick-Simmonds

Weal-Filppula-Raffl

Goulbourne-Laughton-Lehtera

Provorov-Gostisbehere

Hagg-MacDonald

Manning-Gudas

Neuvirth

Lyon

2018 NHL draft position preview — Left wingers

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AP Images

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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JustSports Photography

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.