PHILADELPHIA – Any long shot chances the Flyers had of making the playoffs pretty much went out the window the night of Feb. 20 when Travis Konecny hit the ice at Calgary and struggled to get up.
Having just been cross-checked from behind by defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, Konecny suffered an upper-body injury and hasn’t played since.
The Flyers were 23-25-10 at the time and still clinging to hopes.
In the nine games without No. 11 since then, the Flyers had dropped to 1-7-1 prior to Friday night’s game against Buffalo.
The good news is Konecny has been skating for the past few days and joined in some of the Friday morning pre-game skate activities.
At the time of the injury, Konecny was enjoying an excellent season, having already scored a career-high 27 goals.
The Flyers hope he can return fairly soon and get back in a groove over the season’s final month.
“It’s coming along,” Konecny said after the workout at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “Just going day to day trying to test my body a little bit. Just be careful, but I felt pretty good today.”
Konecny said Friday’s skate was the hardest he’s pushed it so far.
When Konecny hit the ice in Calgary, he didn’t immediately realize the seriousness of the injury.
“I had no idea,” he said. “I was kind of trying to get off (the ice) to the training staff as quickly as possible. Something just felt off.”
The Flyers don’t have much left to play for except pride. In Konecny’s case, he wants to head into the offeseason knowing all the parts are working again.
“It’s definitely a goal,” Konecny said. “There’s no timeline. For me, it’s just having the confidence to get back out there, get in full contact again, it’s a process. At this point, I’m just trying to feel good.”
Konecny experienced an off-year in 2021-22, posting only 16 goals just shortly after three seasons of 24 goals. This was a bounce-back year and put his natural competitive nature on display.
“As athletes, it’s what everyone wants,” Konecny said. “That’s why we’re in this sport. Playing games is why we do this. For me (now), it’s making sure I’m one hundred percent.”
Coach John Tortorella wants Konecny to make sure he’s completely ready when he does return.
“It’s hard for athletes,” TK said. “It’s more a balance between us, the trainers and the (coaching) staff. It’s ‘slow down,’ you get so excited: One day you’re not doing upper-body workouts and then I do one and I feel like I’m on top of the world and ready to go.
“It’s just about listening to everyone’s opinion and making sure we’re all on the same page.”
Tortorella said he’s going to rely heavily on the medical staff before making any lineup decisions.
“I know TK feels it,” Tortorella said. “But I’m leaving it up to the medical staff. I’m not looking for percentages or dates.”
Like with Sean Couturier, Konecny is being watched closely. The Flyers don’t want to risk a reinjury.
“He (Konecny) was having a hell of a year,” Tortorella said. “If the medical staff clears him, it’s going to be tough to keep him out.”