Flyers' Konecny benched; Pronger returning to ice

Flyers Avalanche Hockey
Flyers center Travis Konecny was a healthy scratch on Friday night in the game against the San Jose Sharks. ,

SAN JOSE, Calif. - In a surprising move, speedy rookie left winger Travis Konecny, who had two assists in Wednesday's 6-3 loss in St. Louis, was benched Friday against San Jose.

It was the first benching of the season for Konecny, who has four goals, 14 assists, 18 points, and a minus-2 rating in 37 games.

Konecny is tied for fifth in assists among NHL rookies. He has not scored a goal in his last 22 games.

Coach Dave Hakstol said he wanted Konency to use the benching as a learning experience, and that he needs to improve "little things" with and without the puck.

"It's all part of the game and part of the learning process," said Konecny, 19, who stayed on the ice for about 40 extra minutes after the starters left Friday's morning skate in San Jose.

As for his two-assist performance against the Blues, Konecny said, "it doesn't really matter what I did in the game. It's a matter of the little details I haven't been doing. It's a good opportunity for me tonight to watch, learn, and fix parts of my game and hopefully come right back into the lineup."

Konecny said Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn were among the teammates who gave him words of encouragement when they learned he would be a healthy scratch.

"They both had had their day; they've had their opportunity to sit out, and look at them. They're some of the top players in the league," Konecny said. "Everyone goes through it, so it's just an opportunity for me to learn."

"I'm not going to get down on myself," Konecny said. "I worked hard out here today. I'm going to keep myself in shape."

Konency said it would be beneficial to watch the game from the press box.

"The game kind of slows down when you're up top and you get a chance to see the different angles," he said.

Lineup changes

Left winger Michael Raffl returned to the lineup after missing one game with a knee injury, and defenseman Brandon Manning replaced Radko Gudas, who suffered an undisclosed minor injury against St. Louis and is listed as day to day. Manning was paired with Michael Del Zotto.

Boyd Gordon returned to the lineup and replaced Roman Lyubimov.

Raffl went back on the top line, with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. Taylor Leier played in Konecny's second-line spot, while Gordon played on the fourth line, centered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

Pronger returns

More than four years after he played his last NHL game while with the Flyers, Hall-of-Fame defenseman Chris Pronger will be back on the ice Saturday afternoon.

Forced to retire because of concussion symptoms, Pronger, 42, will play for St. Louis in the Winter Classic Alumni Game against Chicago at Busch Stadium.

He played his final game, in Winnipeg, on Nov. 19, 2011. It was his fifth game after returning from an ocular concussion.

"I'm sure it will be a little emotional to get back on the ice and skate around and play in the game," Pronger told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I don't really know what to expect, how I'm going to feel.. . . But I do know that I only know how to play the game one way. So, hey, we'll see how it goes."

Familiar face

San Jose rookie goalie Aaron Dell (3-1 2.16 GAA, .926 save percentage), who played for Hakstol at North Dakota, faced Steve Mason.

Entering the night, Dell was 3-1 with a 2.16 goals-against average, and .926 save percentage.

Dell said he "a little extra motivation" to face Hakstol. "He recruited me to UND and it would be a little sweet to beat him after that. He gave me a chance there and let me kind of grow as a player and as a person."

scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull www.philly.com/flyersblog