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Flyers’ Tortorella Compares Travis Konecny to Artemi Panarin

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Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella compared Travis Konecny to Artemi Panarin after a stunning solo goal. (Photo: AP)

If Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny has one fan, his head coach, John Tortorella, is one of them.

The Flyers needed Konecny’s marvelous solo effort to help lift them to victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, but nobody was quite expecting what Konecny had in his locker for the goal. Not even Tortorella.

At the end of his shift in the defensive zone, Konecny picked up the loose puck, deftly evaded an incoming MacKenzie Entwistle, and raced up the ice with possession. The 26-year-old flubbed the puck near the boards on the left side of the ice, which worked in his favor as it dragged defenseman Jarred Tinordi far out of possession. Of course, Konecny would scoot by Tinordi and rip the puck past Arvid Soderblom from a sharp angle.

“He kind of stutters with it in the neutral zone. I thought he was going to lose it,” Tortorella said of the play after the game. “He has to concentrate on his shift lengths; we’re always going to try to keep everybody accountable there. I’m never worried if he gets extended out there because he has such a great engine.”

It’s plays like this that remind Tortorella of a certain Artemi Panarin he coached with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Panarin also happens to be one of the best players in the NHL.

“I coached a guy in Columbus, Panarin. He is the best player I’ve seen play tired,” Tortorella asserted. “It’s something some people have. TK has a little bit of that in him. When he’s tired, but he still sees an opening, he takes a chance. He finds a way.”

“That’s part of who he is, and I’m not going to take that away from him.”

Panarin, of course, is a player whom the Flyers have grown to become quite familiar with over the years. The New York Rangers ace has spent each of the last seven years in the Metropolitan Division, including his stop with Columbus under Tortorella.

Konecny isn’t necessarily the perennial 90-point superstar for the Flyers like Panarin is for the Rangers, but he’s already established himself as one of the NHL’s premier wingers. It helps when your head coach is the same one that coached Panarin in his early years.

Maybe Konecny is due for a late-career breakout that even the Flyers hadn’t seen coming.

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