The Philadelphia Flyers had a good run in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. They came into the round-robin as the No. 4 seed and left as the top seed. From there, they defeated a scrappy Montreal Canadiens team in the opening round before falling to the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the second round.
After all was said and done, the Flyers played 16 mostly-impressive playoff games against some of the Eastern Conference’s toughest teams. The Flyers received contributions from almost their entire roster during this run.
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Scott Laughton, who was sixth on the team in regular-season goals, led the way with five postseason goals. Kevin Hayes was clutch with a team-high 13 playoff points. Even Oskar Lindblom, who missed most of the regular season while fighting cancer, provided some inspiration in his return to the lineup.
There were, however, a few players who disappointed in the playoffs. Atop that list was none other than the Flyers’ regular-season goal and point leader Travis Konecny. He was the only forward on the team to play in all 16 games and fail to score a goal. While few could have predicted such a poor showing, let’s take a closer look at just how improbable it really was.
His Career Stats Tell a Different Story
At 23 years of age, Konecny has just four seasons of NHL experience. Nonetheless, he has already proven himself to be an efficient scorer. He has scored 24 goals in each of his past three seasons, and now has 83 in his career. For comparison, Claude Giroux scored just 68 goals before turning 24.
Konecny frequently finds the back of the net. In fact, he did not go more than nine consecutive games this regular season without scoring. In 2018-19 and 2017-18, his longest goal droughts were 13 games apiece. We would have to go back to his rookie season if we wanted to find a goal drought longer than 16. That season, he went 22 consecutive games without scoring. That just so happened to be the only time in his NHL career that he went more than 16 games in a row without a goal.
Thus to some degree, Konecny just played some of his worst hockey since his rookie season. Of course, it’s not completely fair to compare regular-season games to playoff games, as the stakes are a lot higher in the postseason. Also, he did at least contribute with seven assists. Nonetheless, his failure to score a goal was uncharacteristic of his previous success, and certainly uncharacteristic of what one might expect from the franchise’s top goal scorer.
Uncharacteristic Output From the Flyers’ Top Goal Scorer
The Flyers have had several exceptional goal scorers in their 53-year history. On this list are legends, like Bill Barber, John LeClair and Reggie Leach. Something that these players (and many others from the list) have in common with Konecny is that they have also led the Flyers in goals in previous seasons. And in those seasons, like Konecny, they have also led their team to the playoffs.
However, something that these three do not have in common with Konecny is that they have never led their team in regular-season goals and then failed to score during the ensuing postseason. In fact, Konecny became just the seventh player in franchise history to accomplish this feat.
Prior to this season, the Flyers had gone to the postseason 39 times. In 33 of those seasons, their regular-season goal leader scored at least once in the playoffs. In some cases, they scored a lot more. For example, Leach led the 1975-76 Flyers with 61 regular-season goals. That postseason, he added another 19. Meanwhile, Tim Kerr led the 1988-89 team with 48 goals, and then tallied another 14 in the playoffs.
It’s not particularly surprising that so many of these regular-season goal leaders also lit the lamp in the playoffs. After all, they were the goal leaders. What is surprising is that Konecny failed to do so this postseason. Sure, there were six other Flyers who held the same dishonor, but the key difference is that none of them played in more than six games in their respective postseasons. That’s a far cry from the 16 that Konecny appeared in this year.
Thus, Konecny is the first regular-season goal leader in franchise history to appear in more than six of his ensuing postseason games and fail to score. That is certainly not a desirable record to hold.
Where to Go From Here
Ultimately, very few people expected Konecny to lead the Flyers in scoring this season, and even fewer predicted his team to earn the top seed in the playoffs. The fact that both of these occurred is a sign of very good things to come.
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The Flyers are set up for sustained success thanks to their first-rate head coach and general manager, their young core, and the fact that several of their key players are locked up for years to come. Not to mention they still have their team captain and potential Hockey Hall of Famer Giroux to lead the way for the next little while.
As for Konecny, he will be just fine. It is beyond impressive that he led his team in scoring as a 23-year-old. Even though he did not score in the postseason, he will only get better. Sure, Konecny, his teammates, and Flyer fans will feel disappointment and perhaps anger about how this season ended; however, it was a step in the right direction. The Flyers will be back next season and they will be a force to be reckoned with.
Covering the Flyers for THW | Lifelong Islanders fan, but promise to become a little more sympathetic to the Flyers | Also a 4X marathon-runner | UChicago ’19