They finally did it. The Philadelphia Flyers secured their first road victory of 2022 against the St. Louis Blues. The 5-2 win featured milestones, a new face on the penalty kill getting his reward, and a couple of patient plays in the OZ.
The Flyers came out shooting; Owen Tippett pinged the post within the first five minutes. Kevin Connauton put a little extra mustard on the soft pretzel with his pass to Travis Konecny, leading to an assist. Not only did Connauton record an assist as a noted forward in the lineup, but the scoring play accounted for the first point in the NHL for Hayden Hodgson. Konecny sniped the corner with speed (1st; 13:24,) but the pass to create that was remarkable:
Then, Tippet, backskating into the OZ, had the patience to find Cam York joining the rush. Binnington made the save on York, but Patrick Brown rammed the rebound home (1st, 5:09.)
If you bet the Vladimir Tarasenko anytime score prop, it happened (2nd, 18:13) before Konecny recorded his second of the game (2nd, 7:56.) St. Louis closed the deficit when Alexei Toropchenko scored after a turnover by Martin Jones (2nd; 4:00.) Into the third period, the Blues were successfully controlling the pace. Kevin Hayes, who looks healthier as he plays, used his frame to get in close on Binnington, setting the scene for the first NHL goal for Hodgson. Hodgson bagged the rebound (3rd, 8:26) before Joel Farabee scored the empty net (3rd, 2:40,) cashing in on more anytime score odds.
Philadelphia secured their first road win of 2022, and here are a few takeaways:
TK on the PK (+)
Remember 2020-2021? Alain Vigneault sat Konecny because he needed to improve his two-hundred-foot game. It was a blessing. Konecny evolved, and that was the catalyst. Last night, he excelled on the penalty kill, scored two goals, and continued to play inspired hockey.
What is undisputed about Konecny is his hustle. It has made an impression on Mike Yeo. Lately, when a Philadelphia skater flashes through the NZ with speed, moving with the puck or disrupting a pass, it’s usually Konecny.
“I can really see a strong effort on TK’s part to play the game the right way at both ends of the ice. With that, he has the puck more, he has the puck in better situations, and we ask those guys to be leaders. He’s doing a good job at that.”Mike Yeo; 3/24/2022
A curator of goals, Konecny leads the Flyers in assists, is second in team points behind Cam Atkinson, and ranks top five on the team in goals scored. The only people who care about who scored the goal are bettors. As long as Philadelphia tallies goals, it doesn’t matter who touched the puck last. Konecny doesn’t need to be the goal scorer he was in 2019-2020, but lately, he’s facilitating scoring plays at a high rate while keeping his end of the bargain defensively.
In life after Claude Giroux, Yeo believes Konecny is a leader. Leading by example, he is the latest player to show his vast improvements.
He’s starting to put it all together.
Milestone Hodgy (+)
Hodgson was lighting it up for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He’s third in points, trailing only Adam Clendening and Cal O’Reilly. Last night, the RW made his NHL debut at LW, securing an assist and a goal.
It all fits the running narrative for the 2021-2022 season. The recalled players are maximizing opportunities with Yeo.
He’s an incredible story because of the path he had to take to fight for his hockey career. In 2019, a skate sliced his leg. Hodgson was hospitalized for a few days, followed by a couple of months of recovery, and when he returned, COVID-19 shut down the ECHL. Fitting for a city like Philadelphia, Hodgson is full of resilience.
“We’re talking about a guy who, before this year, was playing in the ECHL. The jump from the ECHL to the AHL is a big one in the caliber of players, then the jump from the AHL to the NHL. The things he did well, he did very well tonight.”Mike Yeo; 3/24/2022
Hodgson filled in for Oskar Lindblom last night.
A “Shoot First” Identity (+)
How many times have we heard about this before? Atkinson first preached about a “shoot-first” mentality this season. It worked wonders for him during the first five games of the season. Then, “shoot-fist” became sort of a buzzword phrase. “Getting too cute” and “we need to simplify our game” became more prevalent from leaders like Giroux and Yeo.
Last night, Konecny circled back to the “shoot-first” mentality. He’s actively beginning to piece together his game, showing his absolute value to the Philadelphia Flyers:
“I’m definitely working on it. It’s a fine line because there’s times when you feel like the next play might be the better option. I need to get into a shot mentality.”Travis Konecny; 3/24/2022
Konecny, who has been snake-bitten as a goal scorer not from a lack of shooting, doubled down against the St. Louis Blues. Over his last ten games, he’s scored ten points. The slander about his offensive production is a cold take.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)