Last night the Philadelphia Flyers scored five goals. Including assists, there were 13 possible points. Three of those points went to Kimmo Tiomnen and one of them was registered by Nicklas Grossmann. Eight of the other nine points were distributed among eight of the Flyers’ top nine forwards. Last night, every one of the Flyers four lines was responsible for a goal (granted, Adam Hall’s was a short-handed empty netter) with Timonen notching the other. That’s called spreading the offense around, and the Flyers are doing a great job of it right about now. The Flyers lines have been the same for the last six games and it is starting to pay dividends. They are as follows:
Hartnell – Giroux – Voracek
Schenn – Lecavalier – Simmonds
Raffl/Downie – Couturier – Read
Rosehill – Hall – Rinaldo
From his first day as head coach, Craig Berube was shuffling the lines. The Flyers forwards saw almost every line combination imaginable and Giroux seemed to have a revolving door on his wings. In the November 7th game against the New Jersey Devils, Berube first played the lines listed above (Raffle was in for the injured Downie). The Flyers were shutout 3-0 and Berube shuffled up the lines again in the next practice.
To everyone’s surprise, however, Berube started the same lines that he had in the previous game for the Saturday November 9th matinee against the Edmonton Oilers. It was the first time that Berube kept his lines the same for two games in a row. The Flyers went on to score four goals, one of which was Claude Giroux’s first of the season, to defeat the Oilers. For the first time this season the Flyers offense looked in sync and confident.
Craig Berube has kept his lines together since that game, with the lone exception of Downie getting healthy and replacing a sick Michael Raffl. The stability among the forward corp is starting to show success. Over the last five games all three of the top lines have fulfilled their role:
Hartnell (2G, 2A) – Giroux (2G, 3A) – Voracek (2G, 4A) = 6 goals, 9 assists – 15 points
Schenn (3G, 3A) – Lecavalier (2G, 2A) – Simmonds (2G, 2A) = 7 goals, 7 assists – 14 points
Downie/Raffl (0G, 3A) – Couturier (1G, 1A) – Read (1G, 2A) = 2 goals, 6 assists – 8 points
(the third line is also a combined +10 while playing primarily against the top opposing forwards)
Add goals by Rosehill and Hall over the last five games and you see why the Flyers’ offense is showing signs of life. The Flyers are getting the production they need out of their top two lines while the third line shuts down the opponent. I understand why coaches juggle their lines. I understand that sometimes a player may need a fresh set of linemates to rejuvinate his offense. But right now, the Flyers are benefitting greatly from the stability and chemistry of their top nine forwards. If I were Berube, I would keep these lines together for a while.