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Wednesday Night Rivalry

Schenn now sure thing for Flyers

Forward has been filling net for Philadelphia since trade of older brother Luke

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- For most of the past four seasons, Luke Schenn and Brayden Schenn's paths ran on parallel lines as teammates with the Philadelphia Flyers.

But on Jan. 6, as they waited to board a plane for a game the next day at the Minnesota Wild, a fork suddenly appeared in the road.

Luke, 26, was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Brayden, 24, went on to Minnesota alone.

That alone time has turned out to be the best time in Brayden's NHL career.

Heading into the Wednesday Night Rivalry game between the Flyers and Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360), Schenn has emerged as one of the top offensive players in the NHL. In 37 games since his brother was traded, his 15 goals are tied for 12th in the League, and his 34 points are tied for ninth.

Video: PHI@CHI: Schenn scores off Giroux's nice pass

The Schenn brothers are two years apart, but except for one season of minor hockey growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, when Brayden played up an age level, they never were teammates before Luke was traded to the Flyers by the Toronto Maple Leafs in June 2012.

While Brayden was developing into a top-six forward with the Flyers this season, Luke was struggling to find ice time in a crowded defense corps. In the Flyers' first 38 games, Luke was a healthy scratch nine times.

Brayden said it was impossible not to take Luke's struggles to heart, and it began affecting his game. Prior to the trade, Brayden had nine goals and 19 points in 36 games, and was a healthy scratch for one game.

"He [Luke] got scratched a few times, and him being your brother, you never want to see that," Brayden said. "You never want to see anyone get scratched, whether it's a close friend, but this one was my brother. ... We're so close and worry about each other so much. You just want your brother to do so well."

Flyers teammates could see the toll Luke's situation was having on Brayden.

"You kind of take on two things instead of one," Wayne Simmonds said. "I think it's only natural."

Video: PHI@TBL: Schenn nets wrap-around goal to pad lead

The prospect of Luke being traded began weighing on them as far back as training camp. On Jan. 5, Brayden said he and Luke learned from their agent a trade was in the works, but there was no word how long it would take to be completed.

Luke and Brayden practiced together the next day and prepared to make the trip to Minnesota. But before they got on the plane, Luke received a text message from Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, telling him to wait before he got on board. The next call was that Luke and forward Vincent Lecavalier had been traded to the Kings for forward Jordan Weal.  

"Maybe the situation wasn't right for him here," Brayden said. "Now that I see him in L.A. playing well, on a good team, in a good situation for him, maybe a little bit of a relief and happy for him."

With his brother's predicament no longer a daily issue, Brayden's play improved, starting with two assists Jan. 7 against the Wild.

But when the Flyers returned home for two games, things were different.

"Away from the rink, for the first bit I was pretty rattled," Brayden said. "It was tough. You drive to the rink together every day, dinners together, hang out together. Then it's taken away from you."

Time has softened the blow for Brayden and allowed him to focus on what he needed to do to get better.

"Maybe at that time [after the trade], just come to the rink and focus on your own game," he said.

Video: TBL@PHI: Schenn's deflection puts Flyers up by two

The change has been drastic, and been even more impressive since he was moved to left wing on the top line with Simmonds and center Claude Giroux on Feb. 16; in 20 games, he has eight goals and 14 assists. His 22 points are tied for fourth in the League in that span.

"I think he's really taken a step forward this year overall," Philadelphia center Sean Couturier said. "He's playing the right way. He's going to the hard areas hard. His shot has gotten a lot better. He's scoring some pretty good goals, nice goals beating goalies quick. Overall, I think he's just taken a step forward, and it's huge for our team."

It's not just Schenn's offensive play that has been good; coach Dave Hakstol said he has improved in all areas of the ice.

"His focus on pushing to have a full 200-foot game, I think he's always taken pride in that," Hakstol said. "I see him putting effort into the detail of that. That's probably a natural progression as a player continues to mature. Let's not lose sight of the fact how important he's been to us offensively. But every good offensive player becomes more valuable as he builds that 200-foot game."

Brayden said his brother isn't far from his thoughts, and he's hopeful there's a chance he and Luke can be NHL teammates again at some point. But for now, he's doing fine on his own.

"I think he's only worrying about himself now," Simmonds said. "Not to say Luke had anything negative to do with him. Playing with your older brother is a great thing, a great opportunity. But he's been awesome. Since he's been by himself, he's been focusing on his own game, doing what he has to do on a day-to-day basis. He's been great."

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