In evaluating Travis Konecny’s season, it’s only fair to judge him on the entire 85-game body of work, not just the 16-game playoff sample.
For the 69 games of the regular season, Konecny led the Flyers in goals (24) and points (61) and took big strides in his overall game.
But in this modern media world of “what have you done for me lately?’’ the focus for a while is going to be on the 23-year-old’s inability to score a goal in the playoffs, even though he registered seven assists and was a plus-3.
As a team, the Flyers had difficulty finding the net and Konecny epitomized those woes, hitting posts, watching pucks roll off his stick down low and having his best tries stolen by opportunistic goaltenders.
Maybe if the season hadn’t been paused for four months, Konecny could have carried some of his hard-earned offensive momentum into the playoffs. But it was not to be.
“For me personally (in the playoffs), I was trying hard to find my game and get back to where I was at the break when the season stopped,’’ Konecny said during a Thursday media conference call.
“I think I was just fighting it a little bit and trying to find other ways to contribute to the team, just find ways to win games. Honestly, I wish I knew the exact answer because then I would have tried to change it when we were going through the playoffs.’’
The regular season was a different story. First-year coach Alain Vigneault entered the scene and immediately put an emphasis on two-way play for all his players.
Konecny listened, then went out and executed.
“When I came back for this season, I was just really focusing on trying to play the right way,’’ he said. “It was a new coaching staff, a clean slate, I really wanted to prove I could be more than just offense, I could be a 200-foot player.
“Honestly, I think in just from playing the right way and taking steps in the right direction, being more of a complete players, kind of puts you in situations where you’re going to be able to be on the power play, or get those looks at the end of games.’’
By playing a more complete game, Konecny was able to fit in with some of the team’s top players.
“It also allows you to play against some of the other top lines,’’ he said. “I get the opportunity to play with Coots (Sean Couturier), G (Claude Giroux), Jake (Voracek), Hayesy (Kevin Hayes). . .guys that are really offensive and give you that opportunity as well. I give a lot of the credit to those guys.
“The 200-foot part of my game allowed me to take another step and get put in different situations to put up points.’’
One of Konecny’s closest friends on the team happens to be Nolan Patrick. They sit next to each other at the Skate Zone practice rink in Voorhees, N.J. and crack each other up with one-liners.
Patrick missed all of last season with a chronic migraine headache condition and it’s Konecny’s hope his friend will be back for the upcoming campaign.
“We all know and have seen ‘Patty’ at his best,’’ Konecny said. “We know what he brings. At this point, it’s just a matter of getting a hundred percent, ready to rock and roll. We all know what Patty is capable of doing. He’s a terrific player, he fits in with the rest of the top picks that were picked here.’’
The playoff experience, specifically the Islander series, should serve the Flyers’ younger players as a valuable tool as they move forward.
“It’s easy to look back and say ‘could have done this, should have done this’, I mean in Game 7 specifically,’’ Konecny said. “We had the momentum taken out of our team with their goals. It could have went either way. Jake Voracek went off the post early in Game 7 and the momentum could have went the other way.’’
Konecny has scored 24 goals for three straight seasons. That’s consistency and dependability. He was named to the NHL All-Star Game for the first time this past season.
He’s quickly moving into the top ranks of the league and no one-month playoff slump is going to change that.
>New contract for Aube-Kubel
The Flyers announced on Thursday they have signed Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a two-year contract extension worth $1.075 million annually. It runs through 2021-22. Aube-Kubel came up from the Phantoms mid-season and played so well he never went back.