The Flyers loaned forward Tye McGinn to the Adirondack Phantoms yesterday afternoon and recalled forward Kris Newbury. Although McGinn scored three goals in his first two games, he has done very little since then. He is not a fourth line player and would benefit more from playing 20+ minutes a night in the AHL than playing <6 minutes a night in the NHL. Newbury fits the expectations of a fourth line player much better than McGinn does. Therefore, the Flyers will have Newbury on the roster while McGinn plays on the Phantoms top line.
This move leaves Kris Newbury, Adam Hall, Jay Rosehill, and Zac Rinaldo as the four candidates for the three spots on the Flyers fourth line. Adam Hall usually plays center flanked by Rinaldo and either Rosehill/Newbury. However, because Newbury is a natural center, this could lead to Hall being scratched in the near future.
Much has been made of the scoring woes of the Flyers top three lines, and rightfully so. The top nine forwards, the top six in particular, are the players that are relied upon to provide offense. There has also been an outcry against the terrible third period’s that this team has been having. The Flyers have been outscored 16-6 this season in the third period and have entered the third period tied, up by one goal, or down by one goal in all but one game. Again, the blame seems to have been placed squarely on the shoulders of the skilled forwards who are not producing.
I believe, however, that the use, or lack thereof, of the fourth line has contributed to the problem. In Tuesdays’ game against Carolina, McGinn skated for 5:05 and Zac Rinaldo skated for 5:10. Their center, Adam Hall, skated for 11:07, almost three minutes of which was penalty kill time. On the other hand, Claude Giroux (22:59), Sean Couturier (21:27), and Matt Read (21:13) all skated for over 21 minutes. Last year Zac Rinaldo averaged over eight minutes a game and turned himself in to a fairly reliable player. Many people, myself included, believed that a fourth line with Rinaldo/Hall/? would be able to log about ten minutes a game and give the top lines a chance to rest. This season Rinaldo is struggling to log over six minutes a game.
Head Coach Craig Berube does not have faith in his fourth line players. The less they skate, the more the rest of the line-up has to skate. It is no wonder that the Flyers look slow in the third period. When one team utilizes twelve forwards and the other only utilizes nine, it is not hard to imagine who will have the fresher legs. The Flyers have the personnel to run four quality lines (not necessarily scoring lines, but lines that can log at least 10 minutes a game). The Flyers could simply keep McGinn in a top nine role and move Raffl down to the fourth line. That is, if they truly believe that McGinn cannot fulfill a fourth line role. Either way, this team needs to find some legs in the third period, and that will not happen if the top nine forwards are thoroughly exhausted by the time the third period starts.