The Flyers have a couple of rookies on the team but my main focus will be on the two that had the biggest hype surrounding them at the start of the season—Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. But I’ll take a look at the others as well:
Travis Konecny—I’ve never been into watching preseason games. They don’t mean anything. But when I heard Konecny was playing well, it made me want to watch. I didn’t, but that’s beside the point.
Anyway, Konecny came out of the gate hot, with a pair of assists opening night against LA. He looked good, always hustling, good puck skills and a penchant for finding a man with a pass. But he’s hit the rookie wall hard with only one assist in his last five games and a grand total of three in December. His last goal came Nov. 11 against Toronto.
Konecny is a small guy, that’s been the biggest downside people have brought up against him. It’s not not something that automatically means you’ll struggle in the NHL, but it can be something tough to overcome. My biggest concern for him was how he would fare in the NHL his first year. Sometimes, if you bring someone in too early and they struggle, they can get down on themselves and it can wreck their psyche.
The kid’s only 19, so I’m not super worried. But it would be nice to see him get back on the scoresheet with a goal. He’s got a ton of talent and plays with an edge, which I love. But as to how he’s been so far this year?
Taylor Leier—Leier made his debut with the Flyers last year, but only skated in six games, so I’m still going to consider him a rookie. He notched his first career goal against Dallas on Dec. 17. Typically, when you hear “rebound goal” you (or maybe just me) think it meant one of two things—it was a garbage goal or good positioning. Leier’s goal was a rebound goal, but it was neither of those. He rushed the net, out-fought a defender, and stashed puck under Antti Niemi.
He’s got two points on the year, a goal and an assist, in eight games. It’s nothing to get overly excited about, but he’s playing bottom-line minutes, just 8:28 a game, so it’s hard to make a big impact. Overall, the kid may have a decent future, but he needs more seasoning.
Roman Lyubimov—Not a guy many had heard of before this season or thought would make a huge impact. The biggest thing I’ve noticed about the nearly 25-year-old Russian is how hard he works. He’s not the mostly gifted player, which is no insult—not everyone is a Crosby, Stamkos or Giroux—but his work ethic makes him an asset. He’s missed some games as a healthy scratch, which will happen when you’re a bottom line player. He only has three goals and an assist to his name in 27 games, but as an energy-line guy, it’s more about the work he puts in and his effectiveness in that role. Still, if I’m going to be fair, his lack of offense as a forward warrants a lower grade.
Ivan Provorov—He’s the big one, the one everyone was excited about. It’s hard to measure a defenseman’s effectiveness as a casual fan. For one, the camera is only on them when the puck is near. You can’t see all the little things they do. Also, keeping track of when they’re on the ice and against certain opponents is damn near impossible when you’re just watching for pleasure. So I let NHL.com do some of the work for me in their articles.
On Dec. 21, Adam Kimelman wrote that Provorov is emerging as one of the top d-men the Flyers have. HIs reasoning? Provorov has been paired against some of the NHL’s best, especially during their ten game win streak. David Krejci, Ryan Johansen, Connor McDavid and Jamie Benn just to name a few. In all, there were 11. How did he fair? Kimelman broke it down:
“At even strength, those 11 players combined for two goals (one each by Krejci and Barkov) and 26 shots on goal. Kane, Johansen (one), Jagr (one), McDavid (one), Benn (zero), and Larkin (one) were held to one shot or less.”
He followed up that up with going against Alexander Ovechkin, arguably the game’s most gifted scorer and contained him to just two shots on goal, both extremely late in the the Flyers 3-2 shootout win.
As far as his offense goes, he’s tied for second as a defenseman in points with 16 (3g, 13a), tied with Mark Streit and only a single point behind Shayne Gostisbehere for the team lead for defensemen. Overall, the kid still makes mistakes, but he’s emerging as a great player.
Anthony Stolarz—Not a guy I expected to see this year. Mason and Neuvirth looked bad earlier this year, but bringing Stolarz up never crossed my mind. After Neuvy went down with injury though, it was the move to make. He made his first start against Calgary, and despite allowing three goals, I thought he looked relatively strong. He made a couple of good saves and made the ones he was supposed to. One of the goals he let up was a deflection and another was a set play where Stolarz’s rebound ended up right on the stick of another Flame.
The Flyers only have one shutout on the season and the goalie in net…well it was the rookie keeping a clean sheet against the Red Wings. Those are the only two starts the New Jersey native had and he’s seen action in one other game. Overall, he’s been solid. Not amazing, but far from bad.