Flyers

Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom write early script for how they can change Flyers' 2019-20 season

Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom write early script for how they can change Flyers' 2019-20 season

It’s only one game. 

For the Flyers, you will hear that a lot right now and justifiably so.

The team last Friday won its fourth straight season opener. The season-opening victories over the past three years did not translate into much by season’s end (see story).

Oftentimes, one can only hope an early trend grows into a season-long difference.

Will it happen with Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom?

The Flyers need it to.

Both young forwards rose to the Flyers with anticipation among the fan base. 

Konecny was a 2015 first-round pick with a 101-point season at the junior level. He had everyone buzzing during the 2016 preseason, when he showed he was ready for the Flyers at 19 years old.

Lindblom was a 2014 fifth-round pick that got better and better in Sweden. He was on everybody’s radar when he earned 2016-17 Swedish Hockey League Forward of the Year, telling the Flyers just how far he had come.

In 2019-20, the two wingers will be mightily important for the Flyers if the team wants to bring playoff hockey back to Philadelphia — and then do something with it, too.

The 22-year-old Konecny and 23-year-old Lindblom were key reasons why the Flyers’ season opener was such a positive one. Konecny scored two goals and Lindblom netted one to go along with a team-high five shots, giving the Flyers complete control of an eventual 4-3 win over the Blackhawks. All three markers represented signs of full-season potential and how it could change the Flyers.

In 2018-19, the Flyers were 5-20-3 when Sean Couturier went scoreless, 10-19-2 when Claude Giroux went scoreless and 10-19-2 when Jakub Voracek went scoreless. The trio went scoreless in the win over the Blackhawks.

Last year, Lindblom scored four goals through his first 45 games. He played just 11:34 minutes per game during the stretch. Over his final 36 games, Lindblom played 16:28 minutes a night, scored 13 goals and 21 points, while the Flyers went 20-14-2. Prior to that, the Flyers were tied for 30th in the 31-team NHL standings.

“He’s extremely versatile, we’ve seen the different things that he can do,” James van Riemsdyk said during training camp. “He can play with really skilled players, he’s got that skill and that mind for the game, and that allows him to do a lot of different things out there — whether that’s playing a shutdown role or playing an offensive role.”

Last year, Konecny scored three goals through his first 19 games. His first multi-goal game came on Nov. 17 and the Flyers were 15-4-2 when he scored at least one goal. His best run was from Jan. 19 to March 11, when he put up 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) and a plus-8 mark in 22 games, while the Flyers went 16-4-2.

"What I see is a young man that has got a lot of energy, wants to learn how to play the right way,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said on Sept. 25. “It's not just about offense, he wants to defend and he wants to defend well.

“A skilled player like that has got to be allowed to try different things, but there are times in a game where your decisions with the puck permit you to continue and go on the attack. The wrong decisions make the other team attack."

Konecny and Lindblom were on the attack in the season opener.

Konecny has 30-goal upside after back-to-back 24-goal seasons. Lindblom has a chance to score in the 20-goal range following a 17-goal rookie year.

“You have to start in the right end, play good defense and go from there,” Lindblom said during training camp. “It’s a long season and you have to be there every day, do your thing, and then you’re going to play and hopefully score some goals.”

The opener was only one game.

If Konecny and Lindblom are there every day, in consistent roles, the Flyers will be a different team in 2019-20 — and Friday will be more than just one game.

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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

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Flyers' Oskar Lindblom diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma

Oskar Lindblom, a 23-year-old forward on the Flyers, is expected to miss the remainder of the 2019-20 season after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, the team announced Friday afternoon.

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones.

Below is a statement from Flyers president of hockey operations and general manager Chuck Fletcher:

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma by leading specialists at the University of Pennsylvania. He will undergo further testing and evaluation next week and begin treatment immediately thereafter. He is not expected to return to play for the remainder of the season. The Flyers will do everything possible to support Oskar and assist him in securing the best care available. Out of respect for Oskar and his family, the team will have no further comment at this time and asks that Oskar be afforded a period of privacy so that he may focus his efforts on his treatment and a return to full health.

Lindblom, a native of Sweden, had been one of the Flyers’ top players through 30 games, scoring 11 goals and 18 points.

He was selected by the Flyers in the fifth round of the 2014 draft and has blossomed into a promising player.

Always smiling, positive and humble, Lindblom is beloved by his teammates. His rise from a fifth-round pick to a difference-making player has been a product of hard work.

After scoring 17 goals last season, sixth most among NHL rookies, Lindblom went back to Gävle, Sweden, to train all summer with his old team Brynäs IF.

"It’s like five minutes from my house," Lindblom said during training camp.

“It was nice to be back home for a bit, just relaxed, had some time with friends and family, so it was great.”

It didn't take long for the Flyers' new coaching staff to fall in love with Lindblom's game as the winger raced out of the chute, scoring in the team's season opener and playing a major role ever since.

“I didn’t know much about Oskar before coming here, but what I’ve found is a real smart, two-way player, hard-working young man," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Oct. 26.

In the summer of 2017, Lindblom talked about his climb within the Flyers' system.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said.

By the age of 23, he has more than made it on the highest level.

Below is the outpouring of support for Lindblom, via social media:

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Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

BOX SCORE

From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers (see highlights).

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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