Flyers Notes: Michal Neuvirth to Start Third Straight; Konecny Back

The last time Michal Neuvirth started three games in succession was back in the fall when he made four starts from the end of  October through Nov. 5.

Steve Mason's game was all over the map and Neuvirth had his game down pat.

Tonight, Neuvirth will be back in net against the St. Louis Blues after Saturday's strong 1-0 overtime loss to Los Angeles.

The one lineup change tonight will see Travis Konecny return after a two-game benching. Matt Read will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Neuvirth is clearly in a groove with a 2-0-1 record in his last three games, and an 0.99 goals against average buffered by a .958 save percentage.

"I was coming into the [LA] game feeling confident, calm and just feeling good about myself right now and playing with confidence," Neuvirth said. 

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Neuvirth's challenge tonight is Vladimir Tarasenko, who leads the Blues with 23 goals and 50 points.

"He is a threat every time he is on the ice and I've got to be aware of him," Neuvirth said. "We got to make sure he doesn't have any extra time in the slot.

"I remember playing for [Czech] National team this summer against Russia, he had a five-hole goal on me in the shootout. I know he likes to shoot high."

Neuvirth is hoping to go on a second-half run. If the Flyers, who have a tenuous hold on the second wild card spot, are going to make the playoffs, one of their goals needs to step up, get hot, and claim the net for the stretch run.

A year ago at this very time, Neuvirth missed five straight with a groin pull. Then in March, he missed eight games with a torn meniscus in his left knee before recovering in time for the playoffs.

"I'm feeling good, I'm confident, I just have to have fun and give my best effort," Neuvirth said, adding he's not certain his game is as strong as it was last spring in the playoffs against Washington, but it's getting there.

"It's tough to say. I never look at the past. I look forward. For me, what happened yesterday, happened yesterday."

That said, he admitted last year's injuries still haunt him. Neuvirth has a different training regimen for his left knee this year that includes very specific exercises every day.

"I have rehab and little workouts before every skate," he said. "Just to make sure my body is ready to go. I don't have any doubts in my mind that anything can happen [to the knee]. I'm doing everything I can to be ready and healthy."

He wouldn't say how his routine has changed but it's more specific to his injured area.

Teammates have been very vocal lately about how they are impressed with Neuvirth's comeback this season when he missed 23 games after re-injuring that same left knee.

"When you look at Neuvy and the way he stepped in last year in the playoffs, after Mase had that amazing run before the playoffs, you couldn't beat him," Jakub Voracek said. "He's been amazing when he healthy.

"He's a very good goalie and can steal a lot of games which is exactly what he did the last two games. He stole us three points.  We only scored three goals, one an empty-netter. We got three points out of it and he's the reason."

The challenge now as it always has been with Neuvirth, is to keep him healthy. It's been his biggest obstacle during his nine-year NHL career.

"He's played well  his last few starts," coach Dave Hakstol said. "He was a big part of our game [on Saturday]. I don't feel any differently after watching [tape] it again. Our group battled pretty hard together … Neuvy was a big part of it."

Konecny's return
Hakstol said Konecny doesn't have to look over his shoulder or worry about making a mistake. He knows what he has to do and won't be on a short leash.

"That's not the case," Hakstol said. "Just reality. He has to come in and play confidently and do the things he does well. Play a complete game. You can't be looking over your shoulder."

Konecny says he will try not to dwell on such thoughts.

"I'm sure that what most [players] think about when they come back," Konecny said. "Just be confident in my abilities and do what has gotten me here and not sit back and be safe.

"I am still going to try and make offensive plays. When there's time to get rid of the puck and make a safe play I will."

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere will remain scratched for the third straight game.  




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