Flyers

Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom helping Alain Vigneault make his own 'list' with Flyers

Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom helping Alain Vigneault make his own 'list' with Flyers

Travis Konecny is 22 years old and playing a career-high 17:14 minutes per game during his fourth NHL season. He leads the Flyers in scoring with 15 points through 14 games on a team not lacking established players.

Oskar Lindblom is 23 years old and playing three more minutes per game than he did last season, his first full year in the NHL. He is second on the Flyers in scoring with 12 points and tied with Konecny for the team lead in goals at seven.

The two developments are the Flyers’ biggest positives to the start of 2019-20, a season with heightened expectations because of last season’s costly failures. The two developments also don’t jive with a narrative from head coach Alain Vigneault’s final days in New York, where, at times, his ability to coach younger players was maligned and his willingness to play them was doubted.

So far, the play of Konecny and Lindblom has laughed at the notion. Both players have blossomed in Vigneault’s system and appear poised for breakout seasons. The Flyers haven’t shown any reluctance to playing rookies, suiting up seven and even placing four in the lineup at once. Joel Farabee, a 19-year-old prospect, is playing on the team’s top line and first-unit power play just eight games into his NHL career.

The Flyers are 7-5-2 with 16 points, matching their highest total through the first 14 games of a season since 2014-15. Vigneault has said he’s a firm believer in “talent has no age” and you’d be hard-pressed to claim he hasn’t backed up his words during the early stages of his first season as Flyers head coach.

Following practice Wednesday, Vigneault was asked about the Flyers’ youth taking immediate strides under his watch contradicting the can’t-coach-kids perception.

At some point, someone is going to give me a list of all those young players that I’ve screwed up — I’m not saying I’m perfect — but that have left my coaching and gone to somewhere else and become these incredible players. In [Vancouver], there were three players that [people] were on me constantly — none of them really turned out to be these amazing players.

In New York, I would really like to have that list. I know I’m not perfect and I never pretended to be, but I don’t know a lot of players that left our coaching, my coaching, and did go somewhere else and become these great players. I look at the Chris Kreiders, I look at the Derek Stepans, the Ryan McDonaghs, the Jesper Fasts, and I go on. All those guys when I got to New York, they were just the same as all these young guys. And they’re all turning out to be pretty good players. 

Sometimes there’s a perception — sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong. For me, it’s no big deal. I’ve just got to go do my job.

Vigneault has a valid point about his time with the Rangers, which we detailed here.

Konecny, a spirited winger who plays with pace and aggressiveness, has also made a point by racing out of the chute in Year 1 with his new coach. Vigneault’s teams play a style predicated on wearing down the opposition through an effort-based, possession-oriented attack.

The smart play is the best play — it doesn’t mean a 200-foot focus completely restricts creativity.

“He has an expectation for the team and that’s that — every player is accountable for their actions and we have to play the right way and do all the little things the same,” Konecny said. “It’s not one line that has to chip the puck in or play the right way in the D-zone. He’s got every single line, every single player doing the same stuff. And just over time, the consistency shows how dominant we can be. His style of play has worked elsewhere, so we trust it.

“He wants the sure play, like the 100 percent play that is going to help us win. Whether it is chip it in, whether you make a hockey play, you get in and see somebody open, you try to make the play. You better hope it at least gets through, you don’t want it to get picked off. But other than that, there are no real guidelines to exactly what you have to do. He wants you to play hockey, he wants you to have fun, but make sure you’re doing the right play for the team.”

Age be damned, Konecny and Lindblom have done a lot of the right things.

“As a coach, you’re looking to be able to trust your players,” Vigneault said.

Trusting his young players in Philly has been no big deal, just like his thoughts on that perception in New York.

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 vs. Senators: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Senators: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

For just the fifth time in the last 23 games, the Flyers failed to pick up at least a point when they lost to the Coyotes, 3-1, Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Before a three-game road trip, the Flyers (16-8-5) will look to get back into the points business Saturday as they host the Senators (12-16-1).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 1 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• For the most part, the Flyers were pleased with their game Thursday despite leaving the night empty-handed. Their points were valid, though.

The Flyers held the Coyotes to only 18 shots while putting up 29 themselves. On the season, the Flyers have recorded the NHL's 10th-most shots per game (32.8) and have allowed the fourth fewest (28.9). They own 10 wins when outshooting their opponent, tied for second most in the league.

What's most important is they're playing head coach Alain Vigneault's preferred style, which, more often than not, will result in points. It's a big reason why they're 14-5-4 since Oct. 21.

When you look at all the numbers after tonight, we’ll be double in possession, double in shots, double in everything. But we couldn't find a way to beat their goaltender. I like the way we worked, but execution-wise with the puck, we were a little off. A lot of people say they defended well, we had the puck all night. So that's what happened.

- Vigneault after loss to Coyotes

• Carter Hart is 7-2-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in his last 11 starts. The 21-year-old has allowed more than two goals in only two of those 11 outings.

• The Flyers have only two regulation losses at home (9-2-4) and haven't gone back-to-back games without a point since Oct. 27-29.

• The Senators are 1-5-0 in their last six games, a stretch in which they've scored 1.83 goals per game.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Morgan Frost-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk-Mikhail Vorobyev-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Philippe Myers-Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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 brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

BOX SCORE

Despite putting up 21 goals over their five-game winning streak, the Flyers had a propensity to score them in bunches when an opponent started derailing.

On Thursday night, the Flyers never got going and were pulled back to earth in a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was the biggest difference. The 6-foot-5 netminder who brought an NHL-best 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to Philly stopped 28 shots.

With 4:43 left, Matt Niskanen scored the Flyers' lone goal and it ricocheted off a Coyote. Arizona iced the game with an empty-netter (see highlights).

The Flyers (16-8-5) suffered just their second regulation loss at home (9-2-4). The last time they failed to pick up a point at home was Oct. 19 when they lost to the Stars, 4-1.

Thursday night's defeat halted the Flyers' winning streak at five games and their point streak at seven. The Flyers had earned at least a point in 18 of their previous 22 games.

The Coyotes (17-9-4), who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.31, improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

• The Flyers went on two power plays in the final six minutes of the second period but could not solve Kuemper.

During those two man advantage opportunities, the Flyers put five shots on Kuemper and also misfired three times.

James van Riemsdyk found Morgan Frost with a slick backhanded pass from behind the net but the 20-year-old missed wide.

• Speaking of Frost, he had a tough game. The rookie had a turnover and some difficulty making plays.

He has gone scoreless over his last seven games following his loud start in which he scored three points in his first two games.

Maybe head coach Alain Vigneault takes him off the first line to relieve some pressure.

"Young player, in my estimation, has got a lot of confidence in himself, which is real good," Vigneault said postgame. "Tonight, there were a couple of plays with the puck, like some of our other guys, that the execution might have been a little bit off. But I think overall, the young man is working hard and trying to get better."

Will he stay on the top line?

"I'm going to watch the game and make [changes], if I have some changes to make, [Friday]," Vigneault said. "I like what the young man can bring to the game."

• Vigneault opted to play seven defensemen instead of slotting call-up Mikhail Vorobyev in at fourth-line center.

It's not a bad approach when you have seven healthy blueliners playing well. It also could mean the Flyers aren't ready to trust Vorobyev on the fourth line again.

The Senators game on Saturday looks like a better matchup for Vorobyev, who is in his fifth stint with the club since the start of last season.

• Brian Elliott hadn't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. The Flyers' backup goalie finished with 15 saves.

He allowed a first-period power play goal to Phil Kessel after Claude Giroux was whistled for a ticky-tacky slashing penalty. He then yielded a backbreaking third-period goal to Conor Garland with 7:03 left in the game.

The goalie was not the problem, though.

Sean Couturier was not a problem, either.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday when they welcome the Senators (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Next week, the team opens a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 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