After slow start, Brayden Schenn turning it up in February for Philadelphia
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images
By Charlie O’Connor (@THG_Charlie)
During the month of January, Brayden Schenn lost his spot on the Philadelphia Flyers’ top line, served a one-game suspension, and failed to score a single goal.
February has proven far more positive for the young forward.
Rebounding from his disappointing start, Schenn has quickly become Philadelphia’s hottest forward, with two goals and four assists in five February games. His season-best three point performance on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes moved Schenn into a tie for second on the team in scoring, and caught the attention of coaches and teammates alike.
“Brayden had a real good game for us,” coach Peter Laviolette said in his post-game press conference. “He used his speed and was able to help contribute offensively.”
Although Schenn was held off the scoresheet during Thursday night’s game against the Florida Panthers, he helped to create numerous scoring chances and showed strong chemistry with new linemate Jakub Voracek.
On Saturday, the new tandem paid dividends in the second period, when Schenn found Voracek with a cross-ice saucer pass on a two-on-one to create an easy tip-in goal.
“I felt like we’ve had some good chemistry over the past couple games and tonight it clicked,” Schenn said.
Schenn contended that his breakout performance against Carolina was not simply a carry over from Thursday, but the result of improved play throughout February.
“The past four games, I’ve been trying to make more plays, carry the puck a bit more,” he said.
“I was more worried about getting chances. If you get chances the goals will come.”
While Schenn is still lacking in shots on goal (13 shots in 11 games), his strong possession statistics (8.3 Corsi Relative) imply that he has helped to create shots for his teammates while on the ice.
And as his production has increased, so has his ice time. After seeing his ice time cut to 9:57 minutes on February 2nd against Carolina and 10:42 on February 5th versus Tampa Bay, Schenn has been given 18:26 and 16:40 minutes respectively in his last two games.
Schenn showed promise during his rookie season, scoring 18 points in 54 games while battling injuries through the first half of the year. But his standout playoff performance (three goals and six assists in 11 postseason games) raised expectations for the upcoming season.
His dominance during the lockout while a member of the Adirondack Phantoms did nothing to quell those high expectations, as Schenn led the team with 33 points in 33 AHL games.
It was that performance, in addition to strong practices during the abbreviated week-long training camp, that inspired Laviolette to place Schenn on the top line with Claude Giroux to start the season.
Unfortunately for Schenn, a lack of early production caused him to quickly lose his spot on the Giroux line.
But with Giroux struggling so far this year, the contributions of forwards such as Schenn, Voracek and Matt Read in February have been pivotal in shaking the Flyers out of their early funk.
“It’s always nice scoring goals and helping the team out,” Schenn said. “We can’t [always] rely on [Claude] Giroux for him to score [all our] goals.”
In the near future, the former top prospect will be relied upon in a similar fashion by Philadelphia. But for now, point per game production is an unexpected gift from the still-developing young forward.