Flyers Notes: Boucher sees first NHL action of season

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Flyers Notes: Boucher sees first NHL action of season

TORONTO -- Brian Boucher would have liked very much to have started Tuesday night against the Jets as the Flyers' six-game road trip continues at The Peg.
 
“Absolutely,” Boucher said. “I played a bit down in Adirondack. So it’s been good. Any time you get to play with game sharpness, it certainly helps. It’s been a good thing for me.”
 
The plan changed, however, in the second period of Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Leafs when Boucher relieved Ilya Bryzgalov.
 
“You prepare for every game, but obviously that’s not what you envision,” Boucher said. “They kind of came at us in the second in the early going and capitalized. Unfortunately, that was the game.”
 
He gave a lone goal to ... fellow American James van Riemsdyk, on a nifty backhand move in the third period.
 
“It felt a little bit better than usual to get a goal like that in a game like that,” JVR said of the goal.
 
“The key part is to get a win. The team played well from top to bottom. I don't think I had one of my better games like I wanted to have.”
 
Van Riemsdyk said Boucher knows most of his moves. And Boucher?
 
“I thought I had a good read on it,” he said. “Maybe I moved a little too quick. I felt he was going five-hole and I pushed across a little too quick.
 
“I don’t know if he shanked it or meant to go back. But I was surprised. I felt he’d go five-hole and I had the five-hole covered.”
 
Boucher appeared in six games (2-4-0) with the Phantoms, posting a 2.71 goals-against average and .908 save percentage.
 
He was called up on Sunday when Michael Leighton went on injured reserve with an injury to the ring finger on his stick hand.
 
His last regular season appearance in a Flyers jersey was April 9, 2011 in a 7-4 win over the Islanders. He entered the game in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky in the final game of the season and got a win.
 
That season, Boucher went 18-10-4 with a 2.42 GAA and .916 save percentage.
 
If he plays in The Peg, he knows the arena.
 
“I played in Winnipeg last year [with Carolina], one regular-season game and one preseason,” Boucher said. “It’s a tough place to play in. The crowd gets into it. Last year, they were pretty good at home. It would be a good challenge.”
 
Boucher said that coach Peter Laviolette has not told him whether he would play.
 
Shots
The Flyers' 46 shots on Monday were the most they’ve had since a 55-shot game at Winnipeg last Feb. 21 in a 5-4 overtime victory. The Flyers were 5-5-1 in games last season when they had 40 shots or more, and only two of the five wins came in regulation.

Also, the 22 shots on goal in the second period were the most in a period for the Flyers since they had 24 in the third period of a 6-4 loss against New Jersey on Feb. 4, 2012.

Loose pucks
Sean Couturier missed the game with the flu. His absence resulted in some line changes. Max Talbot moved between Tye McGinn and Mike Knuble, while Brayden Schenn centered Matt Read and Jakub Voracek. ... The Flyers mixed up their D-pairs in the first period, but only for a few shifts. Luke Schenn with Nick Grossmann; Grossmann and Bruno Gervais and Braydon Coburn with Kurtis Foster. ... Fans sit next to player benches in Toronto at each end. Bryzgalov had an ongoing conversation with an elderly man sitting next to him from the time he left the game in the second period to the period’s end. He even smiled for a few photos. ... Every skater on the Flyers' roster had at least one shot on goal. Every skater was also credited with at least one hit. ... The Flyers scored seven goals in one game on the road in Florida, but have just eight overall in their six road losses.

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 in a span of just four minutes and 34 seconds.

First, he redirected a blast by Andrew MacDonald to hand the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Not long after, the 2015 first-round pick deceived the defense to find Raffl right in front on 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 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 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.