Flyers, Bryzgalov bounce back in Winnipeg

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Flyers, Bryzgalov bounce back in Winnipeg

BOX SCORE

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- If the Flyers are going to pull out of their scoring slump, they’re going to need nights like Tuesday in which one line gets hot.

Jakub Voracek had his first two-assist game, while linemates Brayden Schenn and Tye McGinn each had tip-in goals to propel the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Jets on Tuesday night at MTS Centre.

It was just the Flyers' second road win this season (2-6-0). They lost, 5-2, Monday in Toronto.

“Everyone stepping up -- Jake, Schenner and Tye on their line, they were unbelievable,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “It was a real team effort and Bryz (Ilya Bryzgalov) made the key saves for us.”

McGinn, whose physical presence can’t be understated on the ice, also scored in the Leafs’ loss. The 22-year-old rookie was a mere assist away from getting a Gordie Howe hat trick, too.

“That would have been nice,” McGinn said. “I haven’t had one of those in a while. We played together before a few games and had some chemistry.

“Jake and Schenn make the game very simple for each other out there and for myself as well. They find me and I try to find them.”

For the second night in succession, there was a goalie change caused by injury. Jets starter Al Montoya suffered a lower-body injury late and was replaced by Ondrej Pavelec to start the third period.

Bryzgalov, who again had a strong outing, had to protect a 2-1 lead going into that final stanza.

At 4:17, Voracek caused a turnover along the boards and shot the puck to the paint where McGinn tipped it past Pavelec.

“He’s been such a nice addition to our lineup,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s big, he’s strong. He checks. Fights once in a while. Score goals. Sticks up for his teammates. All things you look for when a player comes up -- positive contributions.”

That said, the Flyers' penalty killers had their work cut out for them again late with consecutive kills before Winnipeg scored with an extra attacker in the final minute.

Bryzgalov had 24 saves.

“Bryz was sharp for us the entire game, and he’s been that way for us. And to bounce back from last night … you gotta bounce back from that and he was terrific,” Laviolette said.

With Sean Couturier back home with the flu, Laviolette switched up all four lines.

The Jets were all over the Flyers in the opening three minutes of play, pinning them inside their own zone, where Bryzgalov had to make a point-blank save on Bryan Little and watched pucks crisscross in front of him.

Through six minutes, the Flyers didn’t even have a shot on net despite having an early power play.

Yet, they rebounded to stun Winnipeg at 8:07 as Schenn tipped a Voracek shot past Montoya for a 1-0 lead.

“My brother [Luke] held the blue line there and threw the puck around the back of the net,” Brayden Schenn said. “I can't remember so clear, but Voracek picked it up at the back of the net.

“He told me before the game to go to the front of the net and to keep my stick on the ice and that's what I did. Jake obviously has great vision and he was able to find me.”

Harry Zolnierczyk, called up to replace Couturier, had a terrific block midway in for a breakaway but got stoned on his backhand shot. Right after, during a Jets' power play, Ruslan Fedotenko nailed the post on a shorthanded chance.

Andrew Ladd tied the game at 14:12 just turning his stick perfectly to get a blind feed across the slot from Blake Wheeler. It was so quick, there was nothing Bryzgalov could have done.

The Flyers were 1 for 12 over their previous four games on the power play coming into the game. On their second opportunity of the night, they passed the puck around crisply and quickly, and Kimmo Timonen’s firing from the point off a Claude Giroux assist regained the lead, 2-1.

The assist represented only Giroux’s second point over the last five games.

“We were playing desperate hockey and Winnipeg has played great at home,” Giroux said. “It was great to get out of here with a win. But we’ve got a lot to do.”

Bryzgalov was outstanding in handling the Jets’ second-period onslaught of 10 shots, among them another point-blank drive in the slot off the rush.

This time it was Olli Jokinen. In the final minute of the period, the Jets were buzzing all around Bryzgalov, with the puck playing like a ping pong ball in constant motion.

Just trying to see through a maze of traffic, including 6-foot-5, 265-pound Dustin Byfuglien, was a challenge in itself. However, Bryzgalov held steady, getting his pad on a shot in the paint from Evander Kane.

“He finds a way to make the save,” Giroux said.

Travis Konecny leaves impression with vets in Flyers' preseason win

Travis Konecny leaves impression with vets in Flyers' preseason win

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Michael Raffl had just finished playing alongside Travis Konecny, the 19-year-old kid that has Flyers fans abuzz about the now and future.

Yet for Raffl, he wasn’t thinking forward. Instead, he was looking back.

“Yeah, well, I couldn’t do that when I was 19, that’s for sure,” the 27-year-old said smiling, eyes wide open. “No, it’s impressive, he’s a really, really good hockey player.”

Konecny had that resounding affect Wednesday night at the PPL Center, recording a goal and an assist while leading the Flyers to a 2-0 preseason win over the Devils (see 10 observations).

He dazzled with speed and shiftiness.

He showed off vision and smarts.

When he touched the puck, he had everyone’s attention.

Paired with Raffl and Brayden Schenn in a game featuring mostly prospects, the 2015 first-round pick made the molding of Ron Hextall’s roster that much more difficult. With the general manager looking on, the highly touted winger started fast before making his imprint during a span of just four minutes and 34 seconds in the second period.

First, he redirected a blast by Andrew MacDonald to hand the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Not long after, the 5-foot-10, 184-pounder deceived the defense to find Raffl right in front off a backdoor pass for a 2-0 advantage.

“We had a cycle play going and he had a nice fake up top there and I was just going to the net,” Raffl said. “Somehow I was all by myself and he saw me, put a perfect pass on my tape and I just went around the goalie and put it in.”

Following his first goal, Konecny nearly tacked on another less than a minute later when he appeared to hit the crossbar on a shot. He also flirted with a few more assists.

“I think I just played relaxed,” Konecny said. “I came into the game tonight trying not to do too much and just keep things simple. The main thing for me was getting pucks out of the zone, so I think I did that well tonight and hopefully I can keep building on it.”

Relieving pucks from the zone isn’t a real problem when you possess the speed and skill of Konecny, who racked up 101 points last season at the junior level.

At just 19, that’s where he’ll have to return if he doesn’t crack the Flyers’ roster.

With cuts already made and more coming, that sometimes is on Konecny’s mind.

“It weighs on you a little bit. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it and it’s definitely the time I need to step up and make sure I’m playing good hockey,” Konecny said. “And just earning another day — that’s just the way I’m looking at it. Every day I wake up and just work hard and move forward from there.

“I think everyone comes into camp and tries to give them (management) a reason not to send you back and make it hard on them.”

Wednesday night didn’t hurt his chances.

“He played a good hockey game,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Had an impact offensively. He did a pretty good job. There’s some youthful mistakes in there, but overall, he had a real good night tonight playing with Raf and Schenner.”

Placing Konecny with two capable NHL forwards offered the Canadian an opportunity to prove what he could do if he was in fact on the big club.

“We played well together,” Konecny said. “I think from the start we just had a lot of communication, we talked in the room, in warmups, we all knew what we were going to do throughout the game and in certain scenarios.”

If anything, Konecny left an impression on Raffl.

“He’s a very smart player,” Raffl said. “Once he has the puck, he makes smart decisions with it. It was very easy to play with him out there. He plays a mature game and I really enjoyed it.”

Time will tell if more enjoyment is in store come Oct. 14.

Loose pucks
Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon combined for the shutout. Stolarz started and made 11 saves over 29:23, while Lyon played 30:37 and stopped seven shots. “I like both of our guys tonight,” Hakstol said. “Stolie did a good job, he made a difference in this game in the first 10 minutes, those two or three really good saves there. Then Alex came in halfway through, which isn’t an easy thing to do and was ready to go and did his job.” … Schenn, MacDonald and defensive prospect Robert Hagg finished with an assist apiece. … With the roster currently standing at 49, the Flyers expect to make 15 cuts on Thursday. … Defenseman Nick Schultz is out four to seven days with a lower-body injury suffered in Tuesday night’s preseason game. ... The Flyers are off Thursday before likely practicing Friday ahead of Saturday's preseason game at 7 p.m. against the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.

10 Flyers-Devils observations: Travis Konecny impresses

10 Flyers-Devils observations: Travis Konecny impresses

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Flyers on Wednesday night took to the PPL Center — home of the AHL affiliate Phantoms — to give fans an early glimpse of the organization’s young talent, much of which will play on a nightly basis in Lehigh Valley.

One player that may reach Philadelphia before he ever lands in Lehigh Valley did not disappoint as the evening’s main attraction.

In his quest to make the Flyers’ roster at 19 years old, heralded prospect Travis Konecny scored a goal and tallied an assist to lead the orange and black past the Devils, 2-0, in their fourth preseason game, improving to 2-2.

Let’s dive into the action with 10 observations from the game:

1. We start with who else? Konecny. Head coach Dave Hakstol paired the talented winger with Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl, two of the few NHLers to suit up Wednesday. Konecny jumped all over the opportunity, deflecting an Andrew MacDonald shot for a goal 4:30 into the second period. Just shy of five minutes after, he delivered a pretty touch pass to Raffl in front for a 2-0 lead. Konecny just narrowly missed adding another goal and assist, as well, later in the stanza. You know when he’s on the ice because you’ll see bursts of unmatched speed. 

The 5-foot-10, 184-pounder is incredibly shifty with the puck and adept at avoiding contact. At times, he’ll get pushed around when a bigger body squares him up, but he makes up for it with his elusiveness. The 2015 first-round pick sure played the part of an NHL player ready to contribute to a team in need of playmaking.

2. Samuel Morin is a big boy. The 6-foot-7 defenseman really utilizes his tall frame and upper-body strength when battling along the boards. Obviously he needs to work on his skating and puck handling, but he has the size and makeup to compete.

3. Goalies Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon will duke it out for playing time in Lehigh Valley. It’s an impressive tandem. Both combined for the shutout. Stolarz, 6-foot-6, made eight saves in the opening period and 11 total over 29:23. He showed good quickness and instincts. Lyon, not so big at 6-foot-1, is sound and holds records for his time at Yale. He converted seven saves. It’s a duo worth keeping tabs on throughout the season.

4. Forward Colin McDonald will be a nice safety net for the Flyers if they ever need a body willing to bring nothing but physicality. He made loud, impactful hits and had a fight — albeit a short and weak one — early in the first period.

5. Defenseman Mark Alt lost a fight quickly in the second period. He may have lost his balance, but he went down hard. Alt appeared fine when he got up. However, he never returned to the game.

6. The Flyers killed two power plays on the night. The PK continued to show more aggressiveness and disruptiveness on the puck carrier, which wasn’t always the case last season. It’s a big reason the Flyers fell in such a big hole against the Capitals during the playoffs. So far this preseason, the Flyers are 16 for 17 on the penalty kill.

7. Along with Schenn, Raffl and MacDonald, other Flyers to play were Boyd Gordon and Chris VandeVelde, who handled themselves well, as expected. Defensive prospect Robert Hagg had an assist, as did Schenn and MacDonald.

8. Keith Kinkaid was in net for the Devils. He’s expected to be New Jersey’s backup netminder. The 27-year-old is 15-14-5 in his career with a 2.71 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. Not crazy stuff, but still a goalie with NHL experience. However …

9. The Devils visit the Rangers Thursday night, so they too deployed a fair share of prospects, resulting in Kinkaid without a ton of help.

10. The PPL Center is a beautiful venue and should be a hot-spot for Flyers fans throughout the 2016-17 season. The trip is doable, parking is accessible and cheap and the arena doesn’t sport a bad seat. The Phantoms should be fun with added experience and talent.