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Travis Konecny back on Flyers’ top line; Andrew MacDonald returns to lineup

The speedy Konecny will return to a unit with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux for Thursday night's game in Boston.

Flyers right winger Travis Konecny skates with the bouncing puck against Colorado's Sven Andrighetto during the Avs' 4-1 win Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Flyers right winger Travis Konecny skates with the bouncing puck against Colorado's Sven Andrighetto during the Avs' 4-1 win Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.Read moreYONG KIM

BOSTON — Travis Konecny, the speedy right winger who is arguably the Flyers' most exciting player, was probably being politically correct when he said there is no extra excitement to playing on the top line Thursday night in Boston.

Konecny, who has two goals and three assists in nine games, will be back on a line with center Sean Couturier and left winger Claude Giroux.

"Honestly, everyone you play with has some talent and skill," Konecny said, adding it didn't matter to him whether he was with Giroux or Couturier or with other linemates. He has been with Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindlom, and with Jordan Weal and Lindblom.

"Obviously, it's nice playing with G and Coots, but me, Wealsy and Lindy, and me, Lindy and Paddy played really well together," he said.

It will be Konecny's third game on that top unit, which has had three right wingers, the other two being Jake Voracek (five games) and Wayne Simmonds (two).

"I don't blame him the way we've started this year," Konecny said about coach Dave Hakstol's line changes. "We need to try some new things out and shuffle things around to get some wins. It's hockey, and it's short-lived with lines sometimes."

Konecny "brings a lot of energy to the line and makes plays that sometimes you don't think he can make," Giroux said. "He's got that attitude to try new plays, and you know what, he's making a lot of good decisions out there. Me and Coots are pretty excited to have him."

In 41 games with that line last season, Konecny scored 20 goals.

"T.K. is a guy we've played with over the years, so we know our tendencies and our strengths," Couturier said. "It's not really a big adjustment" having him back on the line.

Oddly, Couturier has no assists in the first nine games. He had a career-high 45 assists last season.

Couturier, who said he feels 100 percent healthy, missed most of training camp because of a knee injury and says "it's about finding my timing and my rhythm. I'm getting there."

"I think personally I can do a better job to help his game," Giroux said. "I think as a team, we're not in a position we want to be right now. We know we have a good team in here; we know we can win a lot of games. It just feels like this team, when we're searching for that confidence and we don't have that swagger, we don't win games. But when we do have that swagger, we're pretty dominant."

Maybe putting Konecny back on the top line will help the Flyers find that swagger.

"There's a lot of hockey left to play," Giroux said. "We want to be a consistent team, and it's got to start soon. Why not start in Boston?"

MacDonald back in lineup

After sitting out four games, defenseman Andrew MacDonald will return to the lineup Thursday and replace Christian Folin. He will be paired with Shayne Gostisbehere.

MacDonald missed most of training camp because of an unspecified injury and was ready for the opener, but in hindsight, he said he came back too soon and needed to work on his conditioning.


Hakstol said he will decide which forward will sit after the pre-game warmups. The candidates: Oskar Lindblom, Mikhail Vorobyev, and Jordan Weal…..Goalie Brian Elliott will get the start Thursday and Michal Neuvirth will be his backup. Neuvirth stopped 31 of 34 shots in a rehab assignment Wednesday, helping the Phantoms defeat Hartford, 7-3. … At the moment, the Flyers have three goalies on the roster. … The Flyers are 1-6-2 in their last nine games in Boston. … Among the 135 NHL players who have taken at least 40 faceoffs, six Flyers rank in the top 40 in winning percentage: Scott Laughton (second), Giroux (fourth), Weal (fifth), Jori Lehtera (13th), Couturier (20th), and Nolan Patrick (38th). … Many of the Flyers' dads who made the fathers-sons trip attended the World Series game Wednesday at Fenway Park but left early because of the cold temperatures and watched the last few innings in a Boston bar.