TK-O: Travis Konecny’s Hat Trick Leads Flyers to 5-2 Win Over Penguins

Flyers Penguins Konecny
Photo credit: © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

One of the worst things you can do is take an opponent lightly, especially on the second half of a back-to-back against a divisional opponent. The Flyers might have done that after racing out to an early 3-0 lead in the first period, chasing Tristan Jarry out of his net, and making every Pittsburgh fan wonder if trading Matt Murray was a mistake.

The Flyers were able to refocus and ultimately come away with their second consecutive win despite losing Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier early in this one.

Let’s get into how Friday night’s game went down and what the Flyers will have to do if Couturier’s absence is going to last for the foreseeable future.

Three-K

Last week, Travis Konecny admitted that he allowed the disappointment of being held without a goal in the Toronto bubble to burn for a while. He used it as fuel to add to the internal fire to be better.

On Wednesday night, Konecny appeared to have his breakthrough, but his shot deflected off the helmet of Oskar Lindblom, who was credited with the goal. TK said after the game that he was fine with it and preferred seeing Oskar get credit for the goal after how hard he’d worked to get back after being diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago.

Konecny was determined to find the back of the net and got on the board by getting into the crease and causing mayhem in front of Tristan Jarry:

He said of the importance of scoring his first of the season, “Obviously, it’s nice to get that out of the way and look forward to playing some better hockey 5 on 5 for the team in general.”

He didn’t stop there.

His second goal of the game came less than two minutes after his first on a play that was set up in large part by Nolan Patrick’s willingness to carry the puck across the face of goal, pulling Jarry with him from post to post, jamming away for a rebound that found the stick of Konecny.

With the game getting a bit too close for comfort in the third, Konecny found himself at the net again to finish off the Penguins via 3KO:

It marked the first hat trick in the young forward’s career. It’s another one of those moments you wish a crowd could’ve been there to experience and share in the moment with a fan favorite. Fear not, though. Gritty had the hat-on-ice covered:

 

Carter Hart Locks In

After allowing two quick goals in the second period following an early 3-0 lead, Carter Hart locked in and looked every bit like a franchise netminder. He was sensational throughout the remainder of this one and finished with 31 saves on 33 shots. Including this one to set up a Travis Konecny goal:

Head coach Alain Vigneault had plenty of positive things to say about his young goaltender postgame:

Down to eleven forwards. I thought tonight’s game, there’s no doubt that Carter Hart is the difference. I’m not going to apologize for good goaltending. Carter was the difference tonight.

The high praise didn’t end there. Jakub Voracek had plenty for Hart, noting that he believes the 22-year-old will get even better:

The scary thing is he can be better as well. He made a lot of good stops. I think every single player on our team can be better… Carter made a couple of good stops, but the scary thing is he can be better, and he knows it, like everyone else on the team. Like I said, it is going to take four to five to six games (to work out the kinks). We have to pick up the points when they are on the table and hopefully play a bit better hockey as the season goes on.

Voracek also had some other stuff to say, but you’ve probably heard all about that already.

 

Oskar Lindblom: 2 Games, 2 Goals

It’s crazy to think about just how far Oskar Lindblom has come. The former fifth-round pick racked up 33 points (17G, 16A) in his first full season back in 2018-19. He was poised to blow past those numbers in the 2019-20 season, finding the back of the net 11 times in 30 games to go along with seven assists. Then, his career and more importantly his life, was upended by a diagnosis of the rare bone cancer Ewing Sarcoma.

He made his return to the ice against the Islanders at the end of their second-round playoff bubble series, inspiring millions. He admitted at the start of training camp that he worked hard to get himself back to his pre-diagnosis size, building his strength and conditioning beyond that of what we saw against the Islanders.

His line has been buzzing through two games and even though his first goal came via a deflection off his helmet, the second one probably felt more like the real thing, even against an empty net:

The goals are much-deserved, especially if you account for all of his contributions blocking shots on the penalty kill. As he continues to find his footing, he should continue to find the back of the net.

 

The Roster Ramifications of Couturier’s Injury

The only real negative to come out of Friday’s game is the injury to Sean Couturier on what looked like a rather innocuous hit:

The Selke Trophy winner is set to have an MRI on his shoulder today. It cannot be overstated how big of a loss it would be to have Couturier out of the lineup for an extended period of time.

Head coach Alain Vigneault shuffled his lines, as expected, giving Claude Giroux a look, as well as a heavy dose of Nolan Patrick. It seems unlikely that Vigneault would split up his third line of Patrick flanked by James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek. The short-term fix that makes the most sense is sliding Giroux to center for a few games, elevating Michael Raffl off the fourth line, sending Scott Laughton to wing, and bringing a guy like Connor Bunnaman in to play 4C from the taxi squad. There is a scenario where Giroux moves to center the top line and Morgan Frost is given a chance at left wing on a line with Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee. Given AV’s track record, if Frost is in the lineup, it’s possible we’d see one of Voracek or van Riemsdyk move up to the second line and Frost or Farabee sent to the third line.

All of that said, Couturier’s absence affects more than just the forwards. It also has a profound impact on the…

 

Defense

Alain Vigneault is going to have to do some serious analysis of his defensive pairings before his team takes the ice on Monday against Buffalo.

Ivan Provorov got on the board with a goal of his own on Friday:

But, I have real concerns about his pairing with Justin Braun. Braun is a solid defensive defenseman, but is far from a play-driver at this point in his career.

The third pairing of Robert Hägg and Erik Gustafsson has been incredibly hard to watch at times with the former doing what we’ve grown accustomed to expecting, while the latter has struggled at even strength. A big part of that could be learning to adjust to a new system, but for as great as he looks on the power play, he makes a number of the rip-your-hair-out questionable passes that lead to critical turnovers and goals against when playing legitimate competition.

Sean Couturier covers up a ton of defensive deficiencies. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious. Otherwise, the lineup against Buffalo is going to look like the Mario’s Puzzle Party.

 

A Classy Move by a Class Act

News of our own Anthony SanFilippo’s recent hospitalization with COVID-19 and pneumonia has spread far and wide, with people from all across the hockey world wishing the best for our favorite curmudgeon.

For those who weren’t made aware on social media, Flyers play-by-play announcer Jim Jackson got the word out to the viewing public:

Anthony’s making progress, but it’s going to be a slow process. We’ll try to hold down the fort till he returns.

 

Frontline Family

I wrote about this after the Flyers win on Wednesday night, but I’ll continue to do it every game. The Flyers are doing a great thing by honoring a frontline worker and their immediate family at each home game. Friday night’s honoree was Kristen Lourie, who attended the game with her husband and two children:

I know there are some traditionalists who don’t like the fact that the Flyers have Gritty, but kids like him and it’s a heck of a show as the big orange fella dances around on a giant platform next to where the family sits behind the Flyers bench.

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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