Flyers Notes: Gustafsson takes shot off shin

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Flyers Notes: Gustafsson takes shot off shin

Erik Gustafsson’s hard-luck season continued Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals.
 
The 24-year-old defenseman blocked a shot from Caps winger Eric Fehr at the 7:00 mark of the second period and didn't return.

“He hit me on the [left] shin pad. It’s OK, just a lower-body injury,” Gustafsson said.
 
Asked if he can play Saturday against Ottawa, he replied, “We’ll see. It got treated and we’ll see how fast it goes. I’ll be back sooner than later.”
 
As for pain, he said, “It’s not great, but it could definitely be worse.”
 
He knows worse. Gustafsson previously blocked a shot while playing with the Adirondack Phantoms on Dec. 15, 2012 and missed six weeks with a fracture in his lower right leg.
 
He was finally healthy enough to be called up by the Flyers on Feb. 16.

In seven games now, Gustafsson is averaging 18:47 of ice time and has two assists.
 
“It’s part of the game, stuff happens,” he said.
 
Head hunting
Danny Briere was very unhappy after the game because there was no call on Alex Ovechkin’s attempted elbow to his head midway into the final period.
 
It didn’t land entirely.
 
“Ovechkin, that was a dangerous hit to my head,” Briere said. “I braced to take the hit and he came flying at me.”
 
The Flyers will want that hit reviewed by the league office, especially in light of Harry Zolnierczyk's possible suspension for his five-minute kneeing penalty to Mathieu Perreault that drew a game misconduct in the final 25 seconds.
 
Caps coach Adam Oates said he did not think Harry Z’s hit was dirty.
 
“I think it’s a product of our whole game,” Oates said. “There is 30 seconds left, the game's over and Matty thought he could stick handle through the team.
 
“It’s not what we do, all of us tonight, and guys are sitting there waiting for you and you get hit.”
 
Laviolette agreed.
 
“I think it was a clean, hockey hit,” he said.
 
Stick throwing 'for fun'
It’s becoming something of a habit. Ilya Bryzgalov threw his stick again during the morning skate on Wednesday.
 
He did the same thing three times in a two-day period last week. After the Flyers beat the Capitals, Bryzgalov was asked why.
 
“For fun,” Bryzgalov said simply.
 
Has there been a little frustration?
 
“No, it was for fun,” Bryzgalov said. “I just wanted to.”
 
Do you generally throw the stick for fun?
 
“Oh, once in a while,” Bryzgalov continued. “Sometimes you want something, right? Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you want something badly.”
 
We should point out Laviolette was not amused on Wednesday and let Bryz know that when he skated to the bench after the morning skate.
 
When Bryzgalov finished talking to the media, Scott Hartnell took his place in the locker room. When the subject of the goalie and his stick came up, Hartnell smirked.
 
“He can throw a stick all he wants if he plays like that,” Hartnell said. 
 
Shelley update
Forward Jody Shelley underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to repair a damaged left hip.
 
“His surgery went well,” general manager Paul Holmgren said, adding Shelley is out indefinitely.
 
Shelley is currently on long-term injury, which allowed the Flyers to trade for Simon Gagne on Tuesday.
 
Loose pucks
Among the scouts at the game, three were from Edmonton, including Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe, the Oilers' hockey operations president. ... Mike Knuble was a healthy scratch for the game. ... Nick Grossmann blocked a shot late in the first period but was back on the ice for the end of it. Grossmann recorded seven blocked shots to increase his league-leading season total to 61. ... Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett attended the game. ... The Flyers'  power play was 1 for 6 against Toronto. It rebounded nicely against Washington, going 2 for 3. ... Luke Schenn led the Flyers in ice time (24:36), hits (six), and shots (five). ... Claude Giroux extended his points streak to six games with a goal and an assist. He has four goals and eight assists for 12 points during the streak. He recorded his third consecutive multi-point game and has multiple points in five of the Flyers’ last six games overall. ... Gagne’s goal was his 260th career Flyers goal (regular season).

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.

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, so Kinkaid didn’t have tons 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.

Radko Gudas shooting pucks, 'pretty close' to 100 percent

Radko Gudas shooting pucks, 'pretty close' to 100 percent

VOORHEES, N.J. — Injured Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas is getting closer to returning to game action.

Gudas, recovering from a fractured right wrist (his shooting hand), has been cleared to shoot pucks for the past couple of days and was shooting and hitting in practice Wednesday at Flyers Skate Zone. He has yet to play in a preseason game but said he’s “pretty close” to 100 percent.
 
“I can’t say it’s really 100 percent, but it’s getting there soon,” Gudas said following practice.
 
“There’s a lot of time for me to get in top, game-like shape. There’s not a chance I would miss the start of the season.”
 
Gudas said the most important aspect of the healing process is keeping his wrist stable by wearing a brace to limit too much movement.
 
“It’s better. I’m shooting on it in practice — feels better every day,” he said. “I’m working on a lot of it every day with the strength guys and the doctors here. We’re going day to day, I’m seeing myself sooner than later jumping on the ice.”
 
The second-year Flyer would like to play in preseason games before the start of the regular season but also understands the importance of not rushing to avoid costing him regular-season games.
 
“That’s the main part — feeling pain-free,” Gudas said. “Throughout the season, there’s not a lot of time off so we need to make sure everything is the best it can be before the season starts.
 
“Obviously it’s going to be the coaches’ decision when to put me in. I’m sure they’re talking with the staff for when would be the proper time.”
 
The 26-year-old Gudas signed a four-year contract extension in June after playing a career-high 76 games and recording 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 2015-16.
 
After practice, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol did not have an update on Gudas or defenseman Nick Schultz, who was shaken up Tuesday night.
 
“Everybody wants to play at least a game or two before the season,” Gudas said. “I don’t think it needs to be said.
 
“He wants to have me ready and I want to be ready.”