NEWARK, N.J. – When it comes to young players looking to make their mark on the NHL, the waiting is the hardest part.
Taylor Leier knows all about that.
The Flyers rookie started the year in promising fashion, making the team out of training camp and playing in 21 of the first 23 games.
But since the calendar turned to 2018, Leier had played in only four of the Flyers’ last 17 games (none in the last six) and the bench time had him only itching to get back in.
Because he would have to clear waivers to be sent back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Leier has just had to be patient and watch from the sidelines.
Until Thursday night, when coach Dave Hakstol decided to give another rookie, Tyrell Goulbourne, a seat and return Leier to the lineup against the Devils.
Leier was hoping to have a good game and leave a positive impression on his coach.
“I’ve said it before, Taylor’s played well each of the last two games that he’s been in,’’ Hakstol said before the game at the Prudential Center. “He’s kind of been a victim of circumstance in some of these cases.
“Recently, Tyrell has gone in and played extremely well. We left the roster the same. So for Taylor, he has to go in and play with pace, with tenacity. Do the things he does. He can help our team with the pace of his play.’’
Said Leier: “It’s a unique situation that I’ve never really been in. I don’t think there’s any way to approach it other than professionally. Keep my head high and be ready to play. I’m really happy to be back in the lineup tonight.’’
Sitting and watching can be beneficial at times but this stretch seemed to last a long time.
“I guess (it’s tougher) for the rhythm of the game,’’ he said. “It’s nice to be in a rhythm playing every second night. Hopefully I continue to play after tonight.’’
In 32 games, Leier has one goal and a total of four points with a minus-5.
Travis Konecny scored a goal in Washington on Wednesday night to run his goal-scoring streak to five games, the longest such streak by a Flyer since Wayne Simmonds achieved that mark in 2012.
Hakstol has seen real growth in Konecny’s overall game.
“We could go through a laundry list of skill areas but I don’t think that’s what it is about,’’ Hakstol said. “I think it’s about learning to be a pro, how to show up with preparation and consistency, day in, day out.
“For young players, that’s not just a switch that you can flip on. You have to learn and you have to grow. I give TK a lot of credit for that. There’s still a long way go for him to hit his ceiling as to what he’s going to be in this league. But he’s done a good job so far.’’
Lyon’s first start
With Brian Elliott still on the shelf with a lower body injury and Michal Neuvirth still feeling the effects of a stomach virus earlier in the week, rookie Alex Lyon was pressed into service on Thursday night.
Lyon saw eight minutes of action in the Flyers’ 5-3 loss to the Caps but this was his NHL debut.
“Alex is going to go out and play his game,’’ Hakstol said before the game. “Cliché or not. Alex is very well prepared. He’s confident in himself. It was nice for him to get in a few minutes last night.’’
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