Travis Konecny is still searching for answers to his baffling postseason performance: zero goals in 16 games.
“For me personally, I was trying hard to find my game and get back to where I was at the break when the season stopped,” the Flyers right winger said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. “I think I was just fighting it a bit and had to try to find other ways to contribute to the team and find ways to win games.”
Konecny, 23, did chip in with seven assists and a plus-3 rating in the postseason. But by his body language and the slamming of his stick as he returned to the bench after a shift, you could see his frustration mount as his goalless streak grew.
The Flyers, their offense struggling, had to huff and puff to get past Montreal in six first-round playoff games. They then lost to the New York Islanders in the conference semifinals, four games to three. They scored a combined three goals in the four losses.
“Honestly, I wish I knew the exact answer,” Konecny, who led the Flyers with 24 regular-season goals, said of his postseason scoring woes, “because then I would have tried to change it when we were going through the playoffs.”
In Game 2 of the series against Montreal, Konecny blocked a shot near his left ankle and limped to the locker room with 8 minutes, 26 seconds left in regulation. He returned for the next game and said it didn’t affect him.
“When I blocked it, it was just kind of a pinched nerve at the time,” he said. “It hurt the next couple days, but it wasn’t anything that was a factor to disrupting my play going forward.”
As for the Flyers' 4-0 loss to the Islanders in Game 7, Konecny said it’s “easy to look back now and say, ‘We could have done this. Should have done this.’ I mean, in Game 7 specifically, we just got down and the momentum got taken [away]. It could have gone either way.”
He talked about a Jake Voracek deflection that hit the post when the game was still scoreless in the first period.
“When Jakey went off the post early in Game 7, the momentum easily could have went the other way” if he scored, Konecny said.
In the regular season, Konecny took a step forward. He finished with a career-high 61 points, which led the team, and his defensive play was noticeably improved. He had signed a six-year, $33 million contract ($5.5 million annual salary-cap hit) just before the season.
“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, so I immediately wanted to prove that I can be more than just offense and could be a 200-foot player. Honestly, I think just from playing the right way and taking steps in being more of a complete player, it kind of puts you in situations where you’re going to be on the power play or get those looks at the end of the game. It also allows you to play against some of the other top lines.”
He said it gave him the chance to play with players such as Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Voracek, and Kevin Hayes, “guys who are really offensive, and it gives you the opportunity as well. I give a lot of credit to those guys, but obviously the 200-foot part of my game is what allowed me to take another step and to get put in different situations to put up points.”
The Flyers re-signed right winger Nic Aube-Kubel, one of their most physical forwards, to a two-year extension that will carry an annual $1.075 million cap hit. Aube-Kubel, 24, who had seven goals and 15 points in 36 games, could have become a restricted free agent. ... Konecny averaged a career-high 16 minutes, 48 seconds per game this season and scored on 17% of his shots, a personal best by far. … Konecny on Nolan Patrick, who missed the entire season because of a migraine disorder: “We all know and have seen Patty at his best, and we know what he brings. At this point, it’s just a matter of getting 100% [healthy] and ready to rock and roll.” … In each of his last three seasons, Konecny has scored 24 goals.