Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 1

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Instant Replay: Flyers 4, Sabres 1

BOX SCORE

They had already blown not one but two five-on-three power plays, hardly mustering anything that you would classify as a “shot.”

They didn’t seem to know what quite to make of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, whose .917 save percentage is pretty impressive on a bad club.

Should we shoot? Should we pass? And where?

That’s how it went for much of the first 40 minutes of play for the Flyers before Matt Read, Steve Downie and Sean Couturier awakened their club with a pair of goals generated by their line just 1:09 apart in the second period.

Read scored twice as the Flyers overcame a 1-0 deficit and took a one-goal lead into the third period during Thursday’s 4-1 victory over the Sabres at Wells Fargo Center.

Goalie Ray Emery evened his record at 3-3 in his sixth start, while the win extended the Flyers' point streak to six games (5-0-1).

With the victory, the Flyers officially hit the quarter mark of the season (21) and are 9-10-2 with 20 points.

First period
The Flyers overcame themselves in the first period. They treated the puck like it was a live grenade, fumbling it in both the offensive and defensive zones. Their passing was anything but crisp and their turnovers led to the only goal in the period -- by Buffalo.

Third period
The Flyers went into the third leading 2-1 for the sixth time this season and got a clutch power-play goal from Vinny Lecavalier to give Emery some breathing room at 9:58, making it 3-1. Lecavalier leads the Flyers with eight goals.

Missed opportunities
The Sabres had some chances early in the game but their puck skills were brutal, like missing Ville Leino with a half-empty net facing him or John Scott being unable to get his stick down properly on a redirect in front of Emery. Emery had a nice save on Drew Stafford’s scoring chance after an Erik Gustafsson turnover.

Missed opportunities II
In the first 10 minutes, Claude Giroux and Lecavalier hit the post twice. After that? The Flyers were simply awful with the puck on their sticks the remainder of the period. Botched passes, turnovers, flubbed shots. They blew a 41-second two-man advantage and had trouble even setting things up.

The big kill
The beleaguered penalty kill units had an outstanding kill during Scott Hartnell’s four-minute high stick in the second period. At one point, the Flyers had the puck in Buffalo’s end and generated better chances than their own power play units.

The big chill
That would be a five-on-three Flyer power play shortly after their big kill in the second period in which the team was indecisive on when or where to shoot and moved the puck around the ice like it was still a live grenade. Miller faced three easy shots when all he had to do was raise or lower the glove.

Sobering stats
How bad are the Sabres? So bad that … Buffalo is now 0-3-1 when scoring first and 0-16-0 when trailing after two periods.

Wow stat
Buffalo had not led after the first period in any game this season … until now. Tyler Myers scored in a scrum late in the first period for a 1-0 Sabres' lead.

Read it and weep
Read drilled one past Miller from the high slot at 14:09 of the first on a pass from Downie. Then he made it 2-1 at 15:49 when Downie found him alone in front. Read made Miller commit, then went top shelf. That line had six points.

Special teams
The Flyers were 1 for 7 on the power play. The Sabres were 1 for 5.

Scratches
Both defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Hal Gill sat out their sixth consecutive game. Michael Raffl sat out his fifth straight. All were healthy.

Loose pucks
Just wondering when the last time the Flyers went six straight games with nothing but healthy scratches? Had to have been years ago. … The Flyers had a season-high in shots with 46.

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.