Konecny back on first line, Vorobyev back in lineup for tough Boston game

Travis Konecny

VOORHEES, N.J. – When it’s not working, try something different.

That’s the approach Flyers coach Dave Hakstol is taking as he plans for Thursday night’s game at the Boston Bruins.

Wednesday, Hakstol returned Travis Konecny back to the top line he started the season with, namely Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier.

He said he also plans to return rookie Mikhail Vorobyev to the lineup (presumably as third-line center). It looks like second-year man Oskar Lindblom will get a night off.

The Flyers have a tall order on their hands going into TD Garden.

Boston is the only undefeated home team in the Eastern Conference (3-0-0).

Their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is clicking at one of the highest rates in the NHL. All three players are in double-digit point figures just nine games into the season.

Konecny has enjoyed the best stretch of games of his career playing with Giroux and Couturier. In the second half of last season, he potted 20 goals after notching just four in the first half of the season.

It would behoove the Flyers to get this line going.

Couturier has yet to register an assist and has just three goals to show for nine games.

Maybe this reunion can rediscover some chemistry from last season.

Hakstol has experimented with Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds in that right wing slot but Konecny might be the best option because of his play in high-leverage situations.

“You try to find chemistry that works for the lines,’’ Giroux said. “We had success with TK last year. So we’re pretty excited to play with him again.

“He (Konecny) brings a lot of energy to the line, too. He makes plays that sometimes you don’t think will make it. But he’s got the attitude to try to make plays. He’s making a lot of good decisions out there.’’

After a slow start of his own, Konecny broke through with a pair of recent goals.

“With the way we started this year, we needed to try new things out,’’ Konecny said of the frequent line shuffles. It’s short-lived with lines sometimes and you have to get used to it.

“Obviously it’s nice playing with ‘G’ and ‘Coots.’ I think when I play with them, I just use my speed to help get pucks back to them. I try not to be like I’m just along for the ride. I think my speed brings a lot to the line. It’s my job to back teams off to give them space.’’

Giroux accepted some of the responsibility for Couturier’s slow start. Couturier missed most of the preseason due to an offseason knee injury but no one thought he would get off to a start as slow as this.

“Personally, I think I can do a better job to help his game,’’ Giroux said. “We’re searching for that confidence. When we don’t have that swagger, we don’t win games. Usually when we have that swagger, we’re pretty dominant.’’

Said Couturier: “It’s just about finding my timing, my rhythm. Getting on the same pace as everyone else. It’s getting there.’’

Vorobyev got off to a quick start with a goal in the second game of the season at Colorado but his play seemed to level off to the point where Hakstol sat him for the next three games.

Obviously, the Flyers don’t want a rookie sitting in the press box because it does nothing for his development.

Vorobyev said he’s learning by watching.

“I was able to learn and I was able to talk with the coaches about my play and shifts,’’ Vorobyev said through a translator. “He (Hakstol) explained to me what I could do better.

“I was able to watch our games from upstairs and see how the systems work with the team, saw how to play in the neutral and D-zone. I want to play better everyday.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2418 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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