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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NHL schedule 2020: Qualifying round to begin Aug. 1; Flyers vs. Bruins kicks off round robin Aug. 2

NHL schedule 2020: Qualifying round to begin Aug. 1; Flyers vs. Bruins kicks off round robin Aug. 2

Come Aug. 2, it will have been 145 days since the Flyers last played a game that counted.

If all goes as planned for the NHL, Aug. 2 will be when Flyers hockey officially returns — and when the team will start (or restart) its push for the 2020 Stanley Cup.

On Friday night, the NHL and NHLPA completed the ratification process of the league’s return-to-play plan and four-year CBA extension, setting up for a resumption and conclusion of the 2019-20 season in the anticipated 24-team tournament (see full details and new NHL calendar here). In the announcement, the schedule for the qualifying round/round robin was released.

As we know, the Flyers have a solid outlook in the round-robin tourney as the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed and with a chance to climb to improve their first-round matchup (see story).

Let's analyze the Flyers' round-robin slate and outline the full Eastern Conference schedule from Aug. 1-9 in Toronto:

No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 1 Bruins, Aug. 2

The Flyers will start things off against the NHL-best Bruins, who were the last team the orange and black played before the suspension of the regular season on March 12 (see story).

Alain Vigneault's club went 2-1-0 in three regular-season matchups with Boston. The Bruins finished the regular season with an NHL-high 100 points and a league-low 2.39 goals allowed per game.

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, a candidate for the Vezina Trophy, is 15-2-4 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 22 career games against the Flyers.

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: Carter Hart has four career wins over the Bruins, tied for his most against any NHL club. The 21-year-old is 4-1-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in five lifetime matchups vs. Boston.


No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 3 Capitals, Aug. 6

When looking at the regular-season results, this is likely the most favorable matchup for the Flyers in the round robin.

The Flyers went 3-0-1 over four regular-season matchups with the Capitals, outscoring Washington 16-8 and earning a point in all four meetings.

The Capitals are the Capitals, though, a team that scored the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.42 and has a guy named Alex Ovechkin (he went scoreless against the Flyers during the regular season for the first time in his 15-year career).

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: Washington has the NHL's top power play percentage since 2000 but the Flyers held it to 1 for 17 on the man advantage during the four regular-season matchups.

No. 4 Flyers vs. No. 2 Lightning, Aug. 9

Among the round-robin teams, the second-seeded Lightning were the club that gave the Flyers the most trouble in the regular season. The Flyers dropped two games in regulation to Tampa Bay — albeit one was a 1-0 defeat and the other was a chippy 5-3 loss with an empty-netter during the final 22 seconds (see story).

The Lightning can flat-out score, putting up a league-best 3.47 goals per game.

However, the Flyers hung with Tampa Bay in other statistical categories.

Interesting stat from the Flyers' perspective: The Flyers are 2-6-3 over the last four seasons against the Lightning.

Here's the rest of the East's qualifying round/round robin schedule (team on left signifies "road" team). Per the league Friday night, a complete broadcast schedule will be released in the coming days.


Aug. 1

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins

Aug. 2

• Flyers vs. Bruins

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs

Aug. 3

• Capitals vs. Lightning

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins

Aug. 4

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs

• No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders

Aug. 5

• Lightning vs. Bruins

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers

• No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens

Aug. 6

• Capitals vs. Flyers

• No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets

• No. 6 Hurricanes vs. No. 11 Rangers (if necessary)

Aug. 7

• No. 8 Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Blue Jackets (if necessary)

No. 7 Islanders vs. No. 10 Panthers (if necessary)

• No. 5 Penguins vs. No. 12 Canadiens (if necessary)

Aug. 8

• Bruins vs. Capitals

• No. 11 Rangers vs. No. 6 Hurricanes (if necessary)

• No. 12 Canadiens vs. No. 5 Penguins (if necessary)

Aug. 9

• Flyers vs. Lightning 

• No. 9 Blue Jackets vs. No. 8 Maple Leafs (if necessary)

• No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders (if necessary)

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Updated: 7:50 p.m.

Signed, sealed and hockey soon to be delivered.

The NHL and NHLPA completed the ratification process of the league’s return-to-play plan and four-year CBA extension, setting up for a resumption and conclusion of the 2019-20 season in the anticipated 24-team tournament.

The NHL’s board of governors and the full NHLPA membership needed to sign off on the agreement in a vote Friday night. For full details on the agreed upon CBA memorandum of understanding, click here.

Meanwhile, here's what we know on the return-to-play 24-team tournament:

The hub cities are Toronto (Eastern Conference) and Edmonton, Alberta (Western Conference).

The NHL has set Aug. 1 as the start date of the qualifying round. The round robin, featuring the Flyers, Bruins, Lightning and Capitals in the East to determine the conference's top four seeds, will begin Aug. 2. The Flyers open against the Bruins, as you can see the schedule right here.

There will be five games a day from Aug. 1-2 and six games a day from Aug. 3-9.

Per the NHL's release:

The start times for the 10 days of Stanley Cup qualifiers in Toronto (Eastern Conference games) will be: Noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET. In order to maximize the viewing experience for fans across North America, the start times for the three game windows in Edmonton (Western Conference games) — 2 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. ET and 10:30 p.m. ET — may fluctuate by up to 30 minutes during the qualifying round.

Monday is when clubs are scheduled to open formal training camp at their respective practice facilities and July 26 is when clubs are expected to travel to their respective hub city. Exhibition games will be played July 28-30 prior to the qualifying round.

Training camps are a big step for the NHL in its goal of finishing the 2019-20 season and awarding the Stanley Cup. The season was suspended March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Flyers have a nice opportunity in the round-robin tournament as the East's No. 4 seed and with a chance to climb.

Below are the new critical dates for the NHL schedule (graphic courtesy of the league):

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

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 Flyers analysis for 24-team tournament

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Who are the Flyers' top 5 reinforcements for 24-team tournament?

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