Travis Konecny, you son of a gun, you did it.
After falling weirdly silent against the Pittsburgh Penguins on opening night – an unfortunate hangover from his similarly fruitless playoff push last summer – Konecny came out swinging in South Philly’s Wells Fargo Center and single-handedly outscored the Philadelphia Flyers‘ intrastate rivals in route to a 5-2 win.
Starting out on Alain Vigneault‘s top-line next to Sean Couturier and Oskar Lindblom – the same line used in Game 1 – Konecny made all three of his shots on goal, earned another assist, and finished out the game with the most points and highest +/- of any player on either team at four and three respectably.
And you’d best believe the 23-year-old London, Ontario native did so in style.
Hey Philadelphia Flyers fans, I’m thinking Travis Konecny is back.
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Facing off against a Penguins squad with a seriously shakey netminder in Tristan Jarry – who gave up six goals in the season opener – Konecny breezed out a pair of quick goals in the first period, all the while pushing the pace whenever possible and forcing Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan to switch to Casey DeSmith 11 and change minutes into the game.
Granted, the Pens did counter with goals by Sidney Crosby and Mark Jankowski, but the Flyers were able to settle down in the second period with another strong outing by players like Kevin Hayes, Scott Laughton, and the surprise find of the year, Erik Gustafsson, who many didn’t think would be able to adequately replace defenseman Matt Niskanen when he retired after the 2019-20 season.
I know the sample size is rather small, but something tells me that won’t be the narrative around Gustafsson for that much longer.
Despite recording only 14:37 TOI, the eighth-most of any forward, Konecny was tied for the second-most power-play minutes (with Jakub Voracek) on the team behind only fellow goal scorer Ivan Provorov – signifying a clear trust level from Vigneault, even if all of his goals ultimately came at even strength.
Konecny looked smooth at both ends of the ice, played well off of his teammates, and even scored one of the sweetest spinning goals of the still-young 2020-21 NHL season, which you can check out below if you either didn’t catch it or would like to see it again.
TK 2X. TravTrik. Gritty throwing an outlandishly big Philadelphia Flyers hat onto the ice to officially make Konecny’s three-goal performance a hat trick. You’ve gotta give it to the Flyers; they sure know to make a game with no fans feel exciting.
With his aforementioned three-goal performance – the first such performance of his five-year NHL career – Konecny now ranks first on the team in total points at five and became the first Flyers player to record a hat trick versus the Penguins since Voracek accomplished the feat back in 2013, and the 13th player overall to cap one off against Pittsburgh as per the NHL’s PR department.
Boy, if only the Flyers could play the Penguins every game.
But alas, they can’t. With the first two of eight total ‘Battles of Pennsylvania’ now off the books, the Philadelphia Flyers will turn their attention to new divisional foes, the Buffalo Sabres, who will be hosting the team for a two-game doubleheader early next week. If Travis Konecny can continue on his points spree against Taylor Hall, Jack Eichel, and the rest of the Atlantic Division castoffs, it’ll go a long way to silencing any doubts that the Flyers’ 2019-20 success was any sort of fluke – that is, if any such skepticism still exists.