Konecny shrugs off third­pe­riod in­ac­tiv­ity

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Par­ent rpar­ent @21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Reluc­tan­tSE on Twit­ter

VOORHEES, N.J. >> He might not have felt com­pletely a part of things dur­ing one of the Fly­ers’ most en­cour­ag­ing pe­ri­ods of their young sea­son, but young player Travis Konecny cer­tainly showed wis­dom in his re­ac­tion to that a day later.

Konecny played just two shifts in the third pe­riod Thurs­day night as his Fly­ers shut down a highly skilled Winnipeg Jets team on the way to a solid, 5-2 vic­tory. In so do­ing, the Fly­ers grate­fully ac­cepted a cou­ple of early boo-boos by Jets goalie Con­nor Helly­buyck, sur­vived a cou­ple of de­fen­sive break­downs that led to the Jets’ two goals, and lit­er­ally turned the game around with one of their strong­est, team-wide de­fen­sive per­for­mances in the third pe­riod.

That it came with­out two of their im­pres­sive young guys was at least in­ter­est­ing to note, but the way Konecny saw it, was not out of the or­di­nary.

“It’s all part of the game, hon­estly,” the 19-year-old skill for­ward said. “It’s noth­ing I haven’t been through be­fore in ju­nior (hockey). Some­times other guys are ready to go and I think I’ve been fighting the puck a lit­tle bit the last cou­ple of games, so I’d rather the guys that are go­ing (well) be on the ice, any­way.

“We closed out that third pe­riod per­fectly . ... It’s tough be­ing the one that’s not play­ing, but seeing the way the guys came to­gether like that and fig­ured out how to close it out in the third pe­riod ... it was per­fect.”

What wasn’t per­fect, Konecny ac­knowl­edged, was the way he got caught on the Jets’ sec­ond goal, which wound up as a nifty tic-tac-toe pass­ing for­ma­tion and an easy goal by Blake Wheeler.

“I find my­self watch­ing the puck from time to time,” Konecny said. “All (the Jets) need is a sec­ond or two sec­onds ahead on a play to score a goal, and on their sec­ond goal I take re­spon­si­bil­ity. I was puck-watch­ing for a sec­ond there.”

He said ad­just­ing to the speed of the game at this level can be tough, es­pe­cially, “when the play is go­ing ev­ery which way and you’re not sure where you’re sup­posed to be. I should have just, out of habit, went to my po­si­tion (on that play). But I was look­ing around and then my guy ended up with the puck . ... Some­thing you learn from.”

“It’s a learn­ing process,” coach Dave Hak­stol said of what a young guy like Konecny is up against. “I’m in my sec­ond year and I learn some­thing new ev­ery day in this league. And I’m be­hind the bench. I’m not out there on the ice where things hap­pen aw­fully fast un­der pretty in­tense sit­u­a­tions.”

While Konecny sat for much of the third pe­riod, Hak­stol had benched young de­fen­sive star Shayne Gostis­be­here be­fore the game.

“It’s easy to take some of the moves that we make in a neg­a­tive way, but that’s not the case,” Hak­stol said. “For young play­ers it’s a learn­ing process.”

Hak­stol said Gostis­be­here will “most likely” be in the lineup Saturday, when the Fly­ers host the Tampa Bay Light­ning in a 1 o’clock mati­nee.

••• Claude Giroux had a spe­cial locker room lunch pre­pared Fri­day for a young fan, six-year-old Sea­mus Essl of Thorn­dale, Ch­ester County.

Giroux tends to get a bit of fan mail, but the color­ful let­ter he re­ceived from Essl struck a chord. The let­ter was printed in or­ange crayon, with pic­tures of Sea­mus play­ing in his out­door home rink, and with him as a baby be­ing held by one Claude Giroux.

Sim­ply ad­dressed “Dear Giroux,” Sea­mus in­vited him to the Essl’s back-yard rink, adding his mom might even make them grilled cheese sand­wiches.

That del­i­cacy is well­known to be Giroux’s fa­vorite pre-game meal. Ap­par­ently the savvy six-year-old knew it, and that moved Giroux to in­vite Sea­mus and his stunned par­ents, Bob and MaryAnne Essl, to have a grilled cheese to­gether in the Fly­ers’ locker room.

“He’s very ex­cited,” MaryAnne Essl said of her son. “A lit­tle shy, but very ex­cited.”

Giroux cut lunch with Sea­mus qui­etly stand­ing in front of him, handed half to the kid and then tapped bread ... “Cheers,” Giroux said.

MATT SLOCUM — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia Fly­ers for­ward Travis Konecny leaps be­tween Ot­tawa Se­na­tors’ Craig An­der­son (41) and Dion Pha­neuf (2) dur­ing the sec­ond pe­riod Tues­day.

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