VOORHEES – Health issues have not been a problem for the Flyers this season – until now.
The team announced on Monday that Travis Konecny will be out indefinitely with a concussion which he suffered in Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.
Konecny was injured in a collision with the Senators’ Mark Borowiecki during the first period. No penalty was called on the play, although replays showed the Senator player made contact with Konecny’s head.
It’s a big loss for the Flyers. Konecny is the team’s leading scorer (11 goals, 17 assists for 28 points), plays on the top line at even strength (with Claude Giroux and Morgan Frost) and also logs top minutes on the power play.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault plans to go with four lines and six defensemen for the upcoming three-game road trip, which begins Wednesday in Colorado.
For now, the Flyers will get Chris Stewart back into the lineup as their 12th forward.
“He (Konecny) has been our best scorer,’’ said Vigneault. “He’s found a way to contribute not just offensively but defensively as well.
“We’re using him five-on-five, we’re using him on the power play. It’s going to give someone else an opportunity for a bigger role and get a little more ice time.’’
The Flyers have won six of their last seven games to move up among the leaders in the Metro Division. Losing Konecny for an undetermined amount of time could challenge that standing.
“Injuries are part of a season,’’ Vigneault said. “You have to expect it. And then you need somebody to step up. That’s what I expect. I expect some other guys to play well and help us win games.’’
Vigneault did mention that James van Riemsdyk might get moved up to Konecny’s spot on the Giroux-Frost line.
Konecny did feel well enough to visit his teammates after practice at the Skate Zone and that might be an encouraging sign.
According to Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, Konecny appeared to be in good spirits, for what that’s worth.
“He’s optimistic, he rested yesterday (Sunday),’’ Provorov said. “I think he’ll be fine. First of all, he has to take care of himself, get healthy. Come back when he’s a hundred percent.
“He was here, he’s smiling, he’s positive.’’
Gostisbehere was heartened by seeing Konecny in the building.
“I don’t know what the doctors are saying but it (being at the Skate Zone) is better than him not being here at all and in the basement somewhere. We’re going to miss him for how long it is. Hopefully he’s back next game, you never know.’’
Added Provorov: “He’s a huge part of our team, he leads our offense, he has the most points on our team. He’s a very high energy guy, makes plays. Hopefully he gets better and comes back soon.’’
Giroux hopes that Konecny gets back soon because he’s become such a major part of the Flyers’ success.
“He’s a big piece of our team,’’ Giroux said. “We won a lot of games because of him.
“He looks good. Hopefully that’s a good sign.’’
The captain acknowledged Konecny has made significant strides this season. He’s on pace to set career highs in all offensive categories.
“I think he knows when to take chances, knows when to make plays,’’ Giroux said. “When he’s had a chance to score, it’s been going in for him. So he’s playing with a lot of confidence.’’
Gostisbehere could be one of the players who takes up the slack from Konecny’s absence.
“He (Konecny) was on another level this year,’’ Gostisbehere said. “It stinks to see him go down like that. I don’t know how long he will be up but it’s a next-up mentality.’’
One area where “Ghost’’ has improved is the power play. He’s getting off that slap shot of his with a bit of his old swagger.
“For sure,’’ he said. “When you see pucks go in when you’re shooting, it’s a good feeling. For me, I’m going to be throwing a lot more junk at the net. Hopefully we’ll create a little pizzazz on the power play, it’s been a little bad.’’
Vigneault wasn’t sure if Konecny will go on the road trip with the Flyers.
Joel Farabee was off from practice on Monday to have some wisdom teeth removed but will play on Wednesday against the Avalanche. Also, Oskar Lindblom was off for the old “maintenance’’ day.
Goalie Carter Hart and Gostisbehere had some puck-handling miscommunication on an Ottawa goal Saturday. Vigneault says it’s an area that’s being worked on. “That was a simple play where he (Hart) should be grabbing the puck, skating it behind the net, being like a ‘D’ and seeing what his options were up front,’’ Vigneault said. “It’s an area he knows he has to work on.’’
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