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