The Flyers won’t talk about the severity of Travis Konecny’s apparent ankle injury, so it is not known if the second-line right winger will play in Game 3 against Montreal on Sunday night.
If Konecny can’t play – he limped off the ice after blocking a shot in the third period of Friday’s 5-0 loss to the Canadiens – the Flyers will probably make numerous lineup changes.
The series is tied at one win apiece. When a best-of-seven series is tied at 1-1, the team that takes Game 3 goes on to win 67% of the time.
The Flyers’ big guns have struggled offensively through their first five post-season games. Their five top regular-season scorers, including Konecny (team-high 24 goals this season) have yet to score in the postseason.
If Konecny can’t play, coach Alain Vigneault has several lineup options he might explore, including:
Vigneault also might put Robert Hagg back in the lineup to give the defense more physicality. Justin Braun or Shayne Gostisbehere could come out of the lineup.
Asked if he was considering lineup changes, Vigneault smiled.
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks,” he said in a Zoom call with reporters Saturday. “At the end of the day, that was our first really (poor) game in the last 16 or 17, so do you make some minor changes? Do you make some major changes? Do you show faith in the group that brought you to the dance and played extremely well down the stretch? Tune in, you’ll find out (Sunday).”
The Canadiens, who shocked Pittsburgh in the play-in series to advance into the 16-team playoff field, used their speed to create havoc against the Flyers in Game 2.
“That’s part of it. They’re a quick team,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Personally, I think we have gotten out of the zone all right, but they put pressure on. They forced us into some mistakes and they’re opportunistic, too.”
“You have to have faith in the group, faith in the leadership, faith that we’re going to come up with a much better game and a much better effort,” Vigneault said. “Our guys are aware of what is at stake.”
Niskanen said the Canadiens’ quickness around the net caused the most problems.
“They fling pucks toward the crease with bodies there,” he said. “They’re hungrier on the net, so they’ve gotten some goals out of situations like that. It’s going to take a better effort from everybody to get the ice tilted back the right way.”
Despite the drubbing Friday, the Flyers’ confidence level is still high, Niskanen said.
“I like our group. We believe in our abilities,” said Niskanen, the only player on the Flyers with a Stanley Cup ring, won two years ago with Washington. “We’ve got guys that are hungry for success. We had a bit of a blunder (Friday). We’ll learn from it quickly. Get excited and get our energy up for the next game. I know we’ll play better.”
The Flyers haven’t lost two straight since early January, when they fell to Arizona, 6-2, and Carolina, 5-4, in overtime.