I think they’ve proved that they can kick it with the best of them.
The Flyers downed the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 after a strong second period gave them enough of a cushion to come out on top. The kids were all over the action, particularly in the decisive second period, and each grabbed their first career points by assisting on their teammates’ tallies.
Their efforts continued the trend of rookies, and youngsters in general, having a tremendous impact on their respective teams’ performances early on in this season. Fellow 19-year-olds Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid lead the pack, as Matthews potted four goals in his NHL debut and McDavid has six points (three goals, three assists) in the Edmonton Oilers’ two victories in their first two games.
Coming into training camp, it didn’t seem like the odds were very high that both Konecny and Provorov would make the team. While both were lauded for their talents, Ron Hextall has preached patience time and time again. However, with top-notch efforts night in and night out and a league-wide youth movement in full swing, Hextall was more than comfortable enough to keep both teens on the roster without the training wheels and let them grow on the fly.
Both of the Flyers’ rookies played a significant role in many areas of the win.
Konecny finished with 13:08 of total ice time and 1:52 of power play time, though he was used a little less after the Flyers had a multiple goal lead. Provorov, on the other hand, was leaned on heavily. He had the third most minutes of any Flyers defenseman (20:18) and was the only one to register more than two minutes on both the power play (2:07) and the penalty kill (2:05). He had just one less second on the power play than Shayne Gostisbehere, which is a good indication of how much they trust Provorov considering Gostisbehere’s pedigree on the man-advantage.
Looking good, kids.
Konecny was the standout rookie for the Flyers with his two assists and flashy plays, but Provorov added his own highlights to go along with his always steady defensive play.
On a power play late in the first period, Konecny showed some of his most important skills as he circled down low to create a passing lane and eventually sauce a puck perfectly over to Mark Streit on the back door. Unfortunately, Streit didn’t get all of the puck and Jeff Zatkoff made a great save. Otherwise, this highlight would’ve gotten the exciting night started even earlier for Konecny on the brilliant pass.
It looked so effortless for Konecny.
Konecny wasn’t to be held off of the board for too much longer, though. He helped linemate and potential soulmate Sean Couturier on the Flyers’ second goal by throwing one towards the net. Couturier scooped the rebound and brought it to his backhand before burying it to extend the lead just 48 seconds after they took it on Boyd Gordon’s first as a Flyer.
The next play showed the true magic that can be created by the line of Konecny, Couturier and Jake Voracek.
Voracek gathered the puck on the wing and slid it to Konecny in a tight spot. Konecny connected with Couturier and grabbed his second assist as Coots buried it for his second goal of the period.
Provorov also recorded his first NHL point after he found a shooting lane and fired one towards the net. It hit off the boards and to defensive partner Mark Streit, who banked it off Zatkoff and into the net.
While the play may seem a little vanilla, it speaks volumes about the trust and chemistry between Provorov and Streit that the 38-year-old veteran felt more than comfortable going all the way to the goal line and beyond and not worrying about how the kid would handle himself at the point with the puck.
Provorov also channeled his inner Gostisbehere in the third period with this spin move through the neutral zone. While he isn’t as flashy as Ghost and the highlight reel won’t fill up as fast on a nightly basis, Provorov still possesses the skills and tools necessary to make something like this happen with regularity.
Provorov displayed his patience once again, retreating back behind the net in one smooth motion and resetting himself for a full rush up the ice. He keeps his head up all the way and waits for his opportunity.
And then he’s gone.
In all, Konecny and Provorov put forth a memorable performance that only adds fuel to the fire of the fans and further proves Ron Hextall’s decision to keep them around for the season. Watch out, NHL, because the Flyers have joined the youth movement in a big way. We’re glad they’re in orange and black and were heavily involved of the outcome in their first ever game in the league.
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