Flyers-Red Wings: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Red Wings: 5 things you need to know

Flyers at Red Wings
7:30 p.m., NBCSN/TCN

The Flyers (8-9-3) will try to snap a five-game road losing streak when they take on the Detroit Red Wings (11-5-5) at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night.

Here’s five things you should know before puck drop:

1. All about that Mase
Let’s be clear: Steve Mason earned a point Monday night on Long Island, not the Flyers.

It took a shootout for the Islanders to finally solve Mason, who made a season-high 46 saves from all angles in regulation/overtime for his first shutout of the season before allowing two goals in the dreaded shootout.

The Flyers’ netminder was visibly upset after the game. You could tell he was disappointed with the team’s performance, but still tried to keep some of the attention on himself.

"It's frustrating, but at the same time ... it has to be frustrating for the players when you don't perform well and you let in crap goals (in other games),” Mason said (see full story). “It's just frustrating not being able to get the extra point.”

Mason has every right to be agitated. He’s posted a 1.32 goals-against average in his last three starts but has just one win to show for it. Strong goaltending was absent in the early portion of the Flyers’ schedule, but it’s the least of the team’s worries right now.

2. Avoid the shootout
The Flyers need to do everything they can to just win games in regulation or overtime. The shootout clearly isn’t doing them any favors.

Since the shootout was instituted in 2005-06, the Flyers have posted an NHL-worst 27-54 record in the gimmick. They’ve dropped all three shootouts they’ve participated in this season and eight straight dating back to last season, when they went 3-8 overall.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux was asked Monday if the Flyers’ shootout woes are starting to become frustrating. His answer was predictable.

“Of course,” he said (see full story). “Any time you have a chance to win and get an extra point in the shootout you wanna get it.”

Flyers shooters have converted on just one of their 10 shootout attempts this season. Giroux potted the lone goal. Let’s just say there’s room for improvement.

3. Injuries
Update: Forward Michael Raffl (lower-body) is making progress in his rehab. He initially was expected to miss Wednesday's game and return this weekend, but the 25-year-old could play against Detroit. Head coach Craig Berube said Raffl will be a game-time decision. Raffl scored two goals and added an assist in the Flyers' 4-2 win over the Red Wings on Oct. 25.

Fellow forward Chris VandeVelde also has a lower-body ailment. He missed his second consecutive game Monday. His status for Wednesday night is questionable.

For the Red Wings, goalie Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder) and defenseman Brendan Smith (hand) are out. Center Pavel Datsyuk missed his fourth straight game Monday with a sore groin, but will suit up against the Flyers.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: When Jakub Voracek isn’t piling up points, none of the Flyers are. The 25-year-old has been held off the scoresheet just three times this season. It’s no coincidence that all three of those contests were shutout losses. It wasn’t from a lack of effort, however. Voracek has easily been the Flyers’ most consistent forward all season. He’s been strong with the puck on his stick and has done a tremendous job finding open lanes to create opportunities. He’s due for a clutch goal. Don’t be surprised if he gets it Wednesday night.

Red Wings: Big-name forwards like Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Datsyuk tend to steal the headlines but there’s another offensive force emerging in Detroit. I’m talking about Gustav Nyquist, who has a team-high 10 goals through 21 games for the Red Wings. The 25-year-old is an elusive skater and possesses tremendous offensive abilities. He’s a natural center, but has converted nicely to the wing. He’s not the biggest forward (5-11, 185), but he’ll burn any team if he’s given time and space.

5. This and that
• The Flyers have won three consecutive matchups against the Red Wings, scoring 15 goals during that stretch.

• Giroux has two goals and five assists in his last four games vs. Detroit.

• In his second game of the season, Stephen Weiss scored two goals in the Red Wings’ 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Monday. Weiss had two markers in 26 games last season, his first with Detroit.

• The Flyers are just 3 for 31 on the power play in opposing arenas this season.

• The Red Wings are 12 for 40 on the man advantage in their last nine games.

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, he 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.