Flyers Brayden Schenn Comfortable Playing Center
PHILADELPHIA — It took a couple seasons and an important injury before Brayden Schenn finally got his chance again.
A converted winger, Schenn went back to playing center in November when Sean Couturier missed 15 games with a sprained MCL. The Flyers are all healthy now — they have been for a few games — and Schenn is still in the middle.
“I like a lot about his game. He’s done a good job for us,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Not just the stint when Coots was out, but he’s done a good job. He’s worked hard at it to make the adjustment back to center. He’s done a pretty good job in the faceoff circle. He’s done a pretty good job on our side of the red line and I think offensively he’s been an effective player for us with the puck.”
Schenn, 25, had a career year last year with 59 points. He’s on a slightly slower pace this year, but the points weren’t going to be an issue even if he changed positions. It was the other side of the game and he’s done enough to keep his spot at center.
After much deliberation over the past couple years, it seems a center is what he’s supposed to be.
“I feel like it. If you’re asking me, I feel way more comfortable in the middle,” said Schenn, who played his 400th NHL game Wednesday in New York. “I had a couple shifts on wing in Boston and almost felt a little lost again on the wing. I feel comfortable at center. It’s important to be a solid two-way center and be good in my own end and play that full, 200-foot game and that’s something I’m trying to continue to work at.”
It’s been somewhat of a work in progress. On the season he’s slightly better in the faceoff circle — 48.1 percent as opposed to 44.8 — this year than last year. When his line gets stuck in the defensive end has been the issue and it’s happened quite a few times that they get hemmed in with the goalie.
“We’ve got to keep goals, especially 5-on-5, out of our own net. That’s important,” Schenn said. “Especially down the stretch here, 5-on-5 play is huge just because you don’t get a lot of special team opportunities.”