Flyers need Travis Konecny to rediscover his scoring touch
Philadelphia Flyers right winger Travis Konecny is a bit of an enigma.
Early in his career, he scored 24 goals for three straight seasons. He dipped to 11 goals in 50 games last year.
This season, he has just eight goals in 51 games; he is on pace for 13 goals. That doesn’t cut it for a player who has an annual $5.5 million cap hit through the end of the 2024-25 season.
The regression is not lost on Konecny, who admits he is looking to pass too often.
“When you’re feeling good, feeling like you’re hot, you’re getting a lot of puck luck, you might just have the tendency to shoot the puck a little bit more with that confidence,” Konecny said before Thursday’s game against visiting Minnesota. He scored a goal in the Flyers’ 5-4 loss. “I’m trying to get to that shot-first mentality.”
That’s not to say Konecny, who turns 25 on March 11, has been a floundering.
Fact is, he and linemates Scott Laughton and Oskar Lindblom had done a lot of good things before dipping in their last two games.
At one point, Konecny had a career-best seven-game point streak, collecting a goal and six assists. He has 23 assists, so he has done some good things.
But the Philadelphia Flyers, one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams, desperately need him to regain his scoring touch, need him to get to another level, need him to show more of his trademark feistiness.
He has one goal over his last 14 games.
Konecny was drafted in the first round, 24th overall, in 2015. The Flyers took Ivan Provorov No. 7 overall that year, and he has also regressed the last two seasons.
Overall, Konecny was a solid draft pick that year by then-general manager Ron Hextall. His 102 goals place him ninth among players in that draft class.
Only one player selected after him, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, has more goals (169) than Konecny from that draft. Aho was selected 35th overall.
Aho, 24, is headed for 30 goals this season and is an NHL force.
The Flyers, short on snipers, need that from Konecny.
Isaac Ratcliffe, the big left winger who was so impressive in his first few games with the Flyers, was sent to the Phantoms to get more playing time.
“They’ve got three games in three nights coming up this weekend, and he hasn’t been playing much,” interim coach Mike Yeo said on Thursday. “So it’s a good opportunity for him to get playing.”
Ratcliffe, 23, had four points in 10 games with the Flyers, who will use Max Willman, 27, as the fourth-line left winger tonight.
Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon, 32, will break the team’s record for games played by a defenseman Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. He will move past Nick Schultz, now a Flyers assistant.
Tonight will be Spurgeon’s 744th game with the Wild. Yeo used to coach him in the minors and with Minnesota, and the coach said he was happy to be a part of the player’s special night Thursday.
Spurgeon had kind words for several people with the Flyers who used to work for the Wild.
“Schultzy was such a great veteran guy to come into the locker room with; he was always so welcoming,” Spurgeon told the Athletic, adding that pointers he received from the veteran helped him improve his game. He also praised current Flyers execs Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr, who were then with the Wild, for giving him the opportunity with Minnesota.
Claude Giroux will play in his 994th game tonight. … Tonight is the first time the Flyers and Wild have met in Philly since Jan. 14, 2019. Their last meeting was Dec. 14, 2019, in Minnesota.