Oct 2, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Scott Hartnell (19) during the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers, 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Flyers' Hartnell Should Earn Back Top Spot

Scott Hartnell has changed his colors.

He has skated with the team in his regular uniform and could play in the near future. Hartnell said a few days ago he is “not anywhere near 100 percent. After Thursday night’s game against the Rangers, the Flyers will travel to Long Island to face the New York Islanders, then the orange and black will come home to play the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night. Hartnell could come back and play in any of those games, but his addition means someone on the active roster will have to be moved.

Head coach Craig Berube shuffled the lines again. The forward lines go as follows:

Michael Raffl, Claude Giroux, Vincent Lecavalier
Tye McGinn, Brayden Schenn, Jake Voracek
Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds
Adam Hall, Max Talbot, Zac Rinaldo

(H/T to Flyers Nation)

The top line looks like it could be a force on the ice and could finally help Claude Giroux break out of his offensive slump. Raffl has created numerous scoring chances during his call up, and Lecavalier provides the big body Giroux has missed since the departure of Jaromir Jagr. Should this line produce, Berube should stick to it. So where does that leave Hartnell when he returns to the lineup? He should start on the lower lines.

Hartnell should not be given a spot on the top line. He has not earned it. Since his career year during the 2011-12 season, Hartnell has been less than stellar. He did miss significant time with a broken foot during the 2012-13 season, but even the games he did participate, he did not have the same prowess as he did with Giroux and Jagr. If Hartnell wants the top spot, he needs to earn it back. He has missed far too many scoring chances, which has only hurt his team. Berbue has stressed his system requires much skating from his players. Hartnell is not exactly fleet of foot and falling down is an issue for him.

While the addition of Tye McGinn has worked out, and I love the way he plays the game, I have a feeling McGinn could be the odd man out. Raffl, has the speed that could open up the ice for Giroux and Lecavalier to work, so he could stick around if the top line produces. Some more shuffling will happen once Hartnell is ready to play again, and I can see Berube moving Matt Read to the second line and inserting Hartnell on the third line with Couturier and Simmonds. Another scenario is Hartnell taking McGinn’s place on the second line. Hartnell did play with Schenn last season so there could be some chemistry left over.

How the Flyers play Thursday night will be a stepping stone in how this team will address the next few games. If the team comes out and convincingly beats the Rangers, it could generate some momentum and confidence for the team moving forward.

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Snap Shots: Tye McGinn and Adam Hall

I would not be surprised to see McGinn take Adam Hall’s place on the fourth line. Having four solid lines is crucial in today’s N.H.L. and the fourth line isn’t doing much for me right now. Talbot does have a slight scoring touch, and Rinaldo has expressed his interest in becoming a penalty killer. McGinn brings more youth and jump to the line. He will not score at will, but does pose a threat like Talbot. While Hall is a penalty killer and good defensively and losing him could affect the penalty kill, the Flyers already have two forward lines – Talbot, Giroux, Read, Couturier – who can kill penalties.

 

 

 

 

Tags: Claude Giroux Craig Berube Michael Raffl Philadelphia Flyers Scott Hartnell Vincent Lecavalier

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