NEWARK. N.J. – After being a healthy scratch in the previous six games, rookie left winger Taylor Leier returned to the Flyers’ lineup Thursday against the New Jersey Devils.
Leier, who replaced Tyrell Goulbourne, was on a line with Val Filppula and Jori Lehtera. He also was used on the second power-play unit.
“It was a unique situation that I’ve never been in,” Leier, 23, said before the game. “I don’t think there really is any way to approach it other than professionally. Keep my head high and be ready to play again, and I’m really happy to be back in the lineup.”
Entering the night, Leier had one goal, three assists, and a minus-5 rating in 32 games this season. He would have had to clear waivers if the Flyers tried to send him to the AHL’s Phantoms.
Sitting nine of the previous 10 contests was difficult “for the rhythm of the game,” he said. “It’s nice to be in a rhythm, playing every second night. I haven’t played a lot of hockey lately, but hopefully I continue to keep playing and I find that rhythm again. It doesn’t take too long to get back into it.”
Coach Dave Hakstol said Leier had “kind of been a victim of circumstances. Tyrell has gone in and played extremely well and done his job, so we’ve left the roster the same” until Thursday.
Hakstol said he wanted Leier to “play with pace, play with tenacity, and do the things he does.”
In another change, Hakstol moved Scott Laughton from the fourth to third line and dropped Filppula to the fourth unit.
Travis Konecny entered the night with a goal in each of his last five games – the first Flyer to do that since Wayne Simmonds in 2012. He had seven goals in 15 games since being put on the Flyers’ top line.
Hakstol downplayed Konecny’s surge since being placed on a unit with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, two skilled playmakers.
“I think it’s about learning how to be a pro and learning how to show up with preparation and consistency, day in and day out,” Hakstol said. “And for most young players, that’s not a switch you can just flip on. You have to learn and you have to grow, and a lot of that is from within. I give T.K. a lot of credit for that. There’s still a long way to go for him to reach his ceiling in terms of what he’s going to be in this league, but he’s done a very good job working toward it, especially this year.”
Goalie Alex Lyon made his first NHL start……The Flyers still list injured goalie Brian Elliott as day-to-day. …Wednesday’s 5-3 loss in Washington marked the first time the Flyers had dropped two straight since Dec. 23 and 28.