Travis Konecny defends Nolan Patrick, shows Flyers won't be picked on without Wayne Simmonds

Travis Konecny defends Nolan Patrick, shows Flyers won't be picked on without Wayne Simmonds

NEWARK, N.J. — It was just a matter of time before this new-look Flyers team was forced to take matters into the hands of someone else not named Wayne Simmonds.

To have the fortitude to serve and protect in a way Simmonds was called upon to do so many times before.

Friday night's 6-3 win over the Devils proved to be that first game in which the team’s mettle would be tested (see observations)

“Simmer is one of those guys you don’t want to mess with,” Travis Konecny said. “Teams probably look at us differently. We’re still the same team in that we stick together. I think Simmer left a lot of that with us and taught us young guys to stick up for your teammates.”

You’ll have to forgive the Devils, more notably fourth-line winger Kurtis Gabriel, if he somehow mistook the Prudential Center for one of Newark’s poorly lit alleyways. 

Five minutes into the game, Gabriel unloaded an all-out assault into Nolan Patrick, checking from behind and launching him face-first into the glass. NBC Sports Philadelphia Flyers analyst Chris Therien called it "the dumbest hit I’ve seen all year."

It was certainly one of the most irresponsible ones.

A hit so flagrant that it resulted in a five-minute major, forcing Patrick to leave the game and head into the dressing room as part of the NHL’s concussion protocol.  

“That’s obviously the way that guy plays," Patrick said. "He’s in the lineup for that reason, to do that I guess. The best way to respond is to beat them, which we did."

One could make the convincing argument that Gabriel should have received a match penalty and been immediately ejected from the game, but he was allowed to return after serving the five minutes.

Once the Flyers scored two quick goals in the third period, it was time to settle another score, and that’s when Patrick went into retaliation mode and delivered an open-ice shoulder-to-chest hit that leveled Gabriel, but didn’t appear to be contact directed at the head.

Of course, as you might expect, Devils coach John Hynes saw Patrick’s retaliatory hit differently than the guys on the other bench. 

“I’m sure it’s going to get reviewed," Hynes said. "Blindside hit to the head."

Not long after Patrick’s third-period hit, the tension grew and erupted in Patrick, Gabriel, Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson getting hauled off for roughing penalties, the fallout of a Konecny crosscheck.

“If you look at tonight, there were a few scrums. Guys stuck up for one another,” Sean Couturier said. “There were five-man units in there as battles. It’s good to see and it’s what good teams do. We've got to keep doing that.”

From a crosscheck to a gut-check moment for the Flyers, who were tested for the first time since trading their emotional and spirited leader Simmonds, who would have cleaned up the mess by dropping the gloves or doing what he needed to do to ensure order was restored.

Teams may look at the Flyers differently, but Friday night, they showed there's still a price to be paid (see highlights).

“It was just a matter of trying to protect ourselves,” Konecny said. “Patty is one of my good buddies and I’m going to stick up for him any time someone is messing with him. That’s what it is. Everyone’s just sticking together and we’re a close team. It’s not going to fly with us.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Maybe Alain Vigneault wanted to make a point.

That it’s not all about goals.

Philly is a results city and, ultimately, the NHL is a results business. But Vigneault firmly believes in the process behind the results. He will see past the goal tallies bolded in the box score — if the process is being grown and done right.

The Flyers’ head coach constantly refers to the process. It’s what matters most when he attempts to build a contender, especially in Year 1 with a new team.

The process, one would think, looked pretty good Monday night … right? 

Especially during a four-goal second period in which the Flyers blew open an eventual 6-2 win over the Golden Knights (see observations). After all, the Flyers had scored only four goals over their past two games, both lopsided losses.

But Vigneault had other thoughts. He wasn’t about to forget the meaning of the process. He could have easily said the goals came because the Flyers stuck to it.

He didn’t go there.

“We had some puck luck in the second, found a way to score four and got outstanding goaltending,” Vigneault said. “In my mind, that could have been our least effective period in the last eight. But we found a way to win that period, 4-0. Sometimes it works out that way.”

Found a way to score four goals? A least-effective period of four goals?

The Flyers were outshot by Vegas in the middle stanza, 18-13. Brian Elliott came up with monstrous saves as the Flyers permitted some Grade A chances to a dangerous Western Conference team. After the past two losses, the Flyers had mentioned that they expected to be on the positive end of fortunate wins, too — as in that’s hockey, teams can get outplayed and still come away with victories.

The Flyers scored only one goal in the first period Monday but outshot the Golden Knights, 15-7, and really got after them in the offensive zone. The Flyers would take that opening frame over their second period just about every time.

“We thought we played better in the games that we lost,” Michael Raffl said. “We got away from it in the second period a little bit. We’ve got to keep doing what we do and it’s going to work. At the end of the day, when you work like that and keep outshooting opponents, you’ll be on the better end of the game at the end most of the time.”

The Flyers had to practically defend themselves following back-to-back losses by a combined score of 10-4. The Flyers outshot the opposition, 91-38, but uneven defeats don’t sit well with fans, especially ones that have become accustomed to mediocre Octobers.

“Last two games, I know we didn't have the result we wanted, we lost both games, but if you really look into the game, if you understand the game, you understand that we played great games,” Claude Giroux said after morning skate Monday.

The Flyers were OK admitting that they didn’t play their best game against Vegas.

Especially Vigneault.

He’ll be honest about the process — good or bad, no matter what the final score.

“In the second period, we scored four but I really believe that in our last eight periods, it could have been our least effective as far as going north-south a little bit quick, our puck management, making the right plays at the right time,” Vigneault said. “But when we didn’t do it the right way, we got big saves and when they made a mistake in that second period, we were able to make them pay, which we hadn’t been able to do for quite some time.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak

How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak


The Flyers felt they had dominated their last two games.

The scoreboard said otherwise.

On Monday night, the Flyers quashed the debate by ripping off five goals through the first two periods en route to an emphatic 6-2 win over the Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center.

The victory for the Flyers (3-3-1) put a four-game losing streak to bed as Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Michael Raffl (two), Matt Niskanen and Oskar Lindblom all scored.

The Golden Knights (6-4-0) were coming off a shutout of the Penguins and their penalty kill was 33 for 35 on the season.

The Flyers impressively put up a six-spot on Vegas with two of the goals coming on the man advantage.

• Alain Vigneault’s team made a statement in the second period with four goals. Quite frankly, it needed to make a statement. Winning the shot battle is not a statement — putting up crooked numbers, though, speaks volumes (see story).

The Flyers had scored seven combined goals through the first and second periods this season. They weren’t giving up a ton, but they weren’t capitalizing, either.

This time, the Flyers did, and against a pretty good Western Conference contender.

Now it’s a matter of producing consistently.

• Let’s not forget how good Brian Elliott was against the Golden Knights. He converted big saves, many of which came before the score turned lopsided.

After the Flyers had yielded 10 goals in their previous two games, the 34-year-old picked up 33 stops. He has 76 saves on 81 shots in three career matchups with Vegas.

He could get the next game in Chicago.

Golden Knights backup Oscar Dansk had a rough outing.

• Joel Farabee, the 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft, made his anticipated NHL debut just five games into his pro career.

Last Saturday, Farabee’s mother, grandmother and older brother traveled from Cicero, New York (right outside of Syracuse) to watch his game at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

His mother Pam was back on the road Monday with Farabee’s father Dave to watch their son’s first NHL game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Farabee, a skilled and strategic goal-scoring winger, didn’t score but exhibited his sharp reads and angles to the puck. He gives the Flyers a flashy skill in the bottom six, a type of player who can make a play out of nothing.

• There has been no slowing down Konecny and Lindblom, who have been the Flyers’ two best players. The Flyers have desperately needed some of their promising youth to take big steps. So far, so good from the 22-year-old Konecny and 23-year-old Lindblom.

Konecny has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games.

For some perspective on his start, the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 games so far.

With his two-point effort, Lindblom has four goals and six points in seven games. Last season, he scored four goals in his first 45 games. The Flyers have put Lindblom in a position that suits him well and he’s taking advantage of it.

• The Flyers’ defensemen were strong and a combined plus-6.

• The unsung Raffl notched his first two-goal game since March 15, 2016.

• Four of the Flyers’ next five games are on the road.

To begin the stretch, the Flyers visit the Blackhawks on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers