Flyers' Travis Konecny goes through 'game load,' eager to see what Danny Briere has in store

Konecny goes through 'game load,' eager to see what Briere has in store originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

VOORHEES, N.J. — Travis Konecny pushed it Friday in his recovery from an upper-body injury.

Wearing a yellow non-contact jersey, the 26-year-old winger took part in the Flyers' morning skate, which started at 10:30 a.m. ET. Konecny didn't leave the ice until after 11:30 a.m. ET as he got in more rehab work with skills coach Angelo Ricci.

Konecny will miss a 10th straight game Friday when the Flyers host the Sabres (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Following Friday's matchup, John Tortorella's rebuilding club will have 14 games left on its 2022-23 schedule.

Konecny hopes to play again this season.

"It's definitely a goal," he said Friday. "There's no timeline. For me, it's just making sure I'm healthy and have the confidence to get back out there, get in full contact again. It's a process. At this point, I'm just day to day trying to feel good.

"Today I did a little more shooting and a little bit more of a game load. Then just go from there and kind of work my way up until I feel 100 percent."

The injury to the Flyers' leading goal scorer and point man came at an inopportune time. Konecny was heating up and had already set a new career high in goals. With 27 in 52 games, he was on path to blow past 30 for the first time in his NHL career.

He was also on pace to post a new career best in points. He has 54, just seven shy of the 61 from his 2019-20 All-Star season. Konecny had that year cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"T.K. was having a hell of a year," Tortorella said Friday. "I think if the medical staff clears him, it's going to be very tough for me to keep him out of the lineup. I just don't know if he gets cleared in time. We're running out of games, we're running out of time."

Given the Flyers have lost 16 of their last 20 games (4-12-4), are focused on evaluating for the future and wouldn't mind helping their NHL draft lottery odds, there's no need to rush Konecny back into game action.

But if Konecny works hard to return, is fully cleared and wants to knock off some rust before the summer, the Flyers have to consider it. If anything, he has earned the right to add to his season.

When Konecny is not on the ice, the Flyers sorely miss his offense and energy. In 15 games without him this season, the Flyers are 2-10-3 and have scored just 1.93 goals per game.

Sean Couturier (back) and Cam Atkinson (neck) have been sorely missed all season.

"I think our medical staff has done a terrific job with these three guys in where you have athletes that want to go now and wanted it yesterday," Tortorella said. "I think they've grinded with these guys, they've had to grind with them to make sure they do it right."

Atkinson will not play this season. Couturier is hoping to get at least a game or two. As of now, Tortorella said he thinks Couturier is "probably closer" to returning than Konecny.

After practicing in a yellow non-contact jersey Thursday, Couturier was in a regular orange sweater Friday at the team's optional morning skate. The 30-year-old center helped Noah Cates with faceoffs during the skate.

"Coots is in the meetings now, he's stepping into the meetings now as he's beginning to practice with us," Tortorella said. "Cam's doing stuff all basically off ice. On ice I think will come before the year ends."

The Flyers are going to miss the playoffs in three consecutive years for the first time since 1989-90 to 1993-94, when they went five straight seasons without a postseason berth. Danny Briere has been on the job as interim general manager for a week now and admitted the Flyers have a long way to go before contending again.

Konecny wants to be one of the key pieces pushing the process forward.

"This has been my home now for seven seasons," Konecny said. "Been through a lot of good times and also down times. So when you go through that stuff as a team and some of the guys that have been here, it would mean that much more when you can get to the end goal and winning. It means a lot to be a part of a process like that. You've just got to bunker down, go to work and see what happens."

Prior to Briere becoming interim GM, Konecny had worked with the former Flyer to aid his offense.

"A lot of guys don't see the ice like he saw the ice," Konecny said. "And then on top of that, having him in charge of things and looking up to Danny as the interim GM right now, it's just pretty cool wondering what he's got in store for his thought process moving forward."

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