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Exploring Travis Konecny’s hot start

He’s been the best Flyer offensively.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

If I told you before the season started that Travis Konecny (as of writing this) would be tied for the league lead in goals with Bobby Ryan, would you believe me?

Well, to suggest Bobby Ryan would be towards the top of any statistical chart this season would have been laughable, but for Konecny, perhaps it would have been within reason to indicate future success given the breakout campaign he had in 2019-20. After his rookie season in 2016-17 as a 19-year-old, Konecny posted two comparable seasons of 47 and 49 points respectively, scoring 24 goals each time. In 2019-20, he bettered his previous point totals significantly, scoring 61 points in 66 games, and yet again, finishing on 24 goals (if he hits 24 again this season that has to be some sort of record).

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Konecny’s upward trajectory only seems to be increasing to start 2020-21. In four games played, he has scored four goals, for six points total. This is his second best ever start to an NHL campaign through the first four games, as Konecny had seven points to start in 2019-20, and four in 2016-17 (he really does have a history of fast starts).

In addition, the eye test compliments this. Konecny looks like the best forward on the team at the moment. He’s looked incredibly fast on the breakout, has been positionally sound, and his knack to know where on the ice to be to score has complimented his league-leading goal total. Even when he’s not scored goals, Konecny has been positively involved in plays. He’s playing like a man possessed.

This evaluation, however, is mixed when it comes to his advanced stat profile. In all situations, Konecny has been outperforming his expected goal tally by 3.09 goals, suggesting he’s playing incredibly well and making the most of chances, or that he’s getting lucky. For me, it’s clearly looked like the former is true. Despite this, Konecny doesn’t seem to be driving play as effectively as expected despite his immediate success.

Konecny set a new career high with a Corsi-For of 54.77% at 5-on-5 last season, and notably drove play in his team’s favor in transition and on the breakout, and was overall markedly improved. Comparing to our albeit limited sample size in 2020-21, Konecny’s Corsi-For at 5-on-5 sits at 48.48%, which is not a striking difference, but regardless, is sub 50.0%. This surprised me when I first looked up Konecny’s profile, but what was more surprising was that the real play-driver on Konecny’s line has been Morgan Frost.

Though he only has suited up in two games (and hopefully won’t be out for long), Frost has effectively driven play, posting a Corsi-For of 53.54% at 5-on-5, with an even better Fenwick percentage, meaning he’s getting the puck effectively on net and driving possession. I would have thought Oskar Lindblom would be the primary play-driving force on the line, given how well he has played from the eye-test, but that has not been the case.

In spite of a lack of play-driving evidence statistically, Travis Konecny has been the hottest Flyer to start 2020-21, and he’s been one of the club’s most paramount spark-plugs. We’ll see if Konecny can stay in this vein of form consistently, and if he does, we could be looking at a new high for Konecny.


Does Travis Konecny hit a point-per-game this season?

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