Ever since the 2019-2020 season, Travis Konecny struggled to regain his goal-scoring touch. Konecny was the leading scorer on a Philadelphia Flyers team that ranked top five in the NHL before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scoring 61 points (24G, 37A) in 66 games before the season paused, Konecny was reaching new levels. At 23-years-old, he was turning heads around the NHL. Scoring 24 goals in three consecutive seasons, 30+ seemed to be on the horizon in 2020-2021.
Scoring at a near point-per-game pace, driving offensive production, Konecny was chosen as the Flyers’ lone all-star in 2019-2020. Without the pandemic, Konecny might have reached 75 points.
In the playoff bubble, he lost his goal-scoring touch. Playing in 16 games, Konecny scored seven points (0G, 7A). Regaining his pre-pandemic form will be crucial in 2022-2023 under John Tortorella.
The 56-game COVID shortened season in 2020-2021 adversely impacted Konecny. Scoring 34 points (11G, 23A) in 50 games, he tied the same amount of goals that he finished with during his rookie year in 2016-2017. Konecny finished with a hundred shots on goal, 82 fewer than his, at the time, career-high.
Alain Vigneault benched Konecny due to a lack of a two-hundred foot game. Emphasizing that change to his game had an effect on his offensive production. It was an odd decision to bench Konecny, but one explained by Vigneault. He saw the way Konecny produced on offense, but really needed him to tighten up defensively:
“As far as TK, it’s like a mother or father sometimes making tough decisions with their children. It’s not that they don’t love their children, they’re trying to get them to do the right things. That is what I am doing with TK. I want him to play the right way. I really believe he is a real good player. I think he is in our top three forwards. Like I said before, he’s not the only one that needs to play better five-on-five. Tonight, he sat out and I expect him when he comes back to play real strong for us and to play the right way.”Alain Vigneault; 1/30/2021
Moving back to a full 82-game schedule for the 2021-2022 season, Konecny had an opportunity to rebound. Yet, the same ordeal from 2020-2021 returned.
He averaged the most ice time in his career (17:37) and scored 52 points (16G, 36A) in 79 games. He managed 220 shots on goal, but his shooting percentage of 7.3%.
Konecny tallied eight points (4G, 4A) in the first ten games of 2021-2022. Alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, three of those four goals happened in the first three games. Over the next ten games, Konecny notched two points (1G, 1A.) He seemed to be regaining his abilities, but a November slump proved tough to recover.
From November 18th to January 17th, Konecny would only score one goal. He went on a 26-game goalless drought. He was still tallying assists, but the lack of goal scoring was worrying for a player who plays in a top-six role.
Konecny did end up leading the Flyers in points at the end of the season. After Giroux was traded and Cam Atkinson suffered a season-ending injury, it was Konecny who highlighted the scoring sheet.
Konecny did show glimpses of his 2019-2020 form last season. He finished with the second highest point total in his career and with the most shots on goal. Konecny still shoots the puck at a high rate, but was snakebitten. His playmaking abilities managed to make up for the goal-scoring troubles.
Konecny will be entering his seventh NHL season this coming fall. At 25-years-old, time is on his side. Philadelphia will rely on Konecny, on the ice and in the locker room.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)