When you see the boxscore for last nights game against the Blackhawks, you will see one thing and one thing only. The Flyers top line. Claude Giroux – Sean Couturier -Jake Voracek, led the Flyers to a big victory against central division power, the Chicago Blackhawks. They were the only Flyers to register points in last nights 3-1 victory. This is dramatically different then the game a week ago when the Flyers played in Chicago and lost 3-0. However, last night showed that the first line can take over a game on any given night. But, can they keep that pace of scoring up?
The Flyers top line is scoring at a ridiculous pace. Jake Voracek leads the team in assists and total points. Sean Couturier leads the team in goals. Claude Giroux is one off the lead in goals and total points.
Games Goals Assists Total Points Shots
Jake Voracek 16 4 17 21 52
Sean Couturier 16 10 9 19 49
Claude Giroux 16 9 11 20 34
When you look at the league, the Flyers top line’s 60 total points is second behind that scoring machine in Tampa, Point (17) – Stamkos (30) – Kucherov (29), total 76 points. That line is on schedule to break so many NHL records and have already broken the record for most points by a line to start the NHL season. However, the Flyers top line is not out to break records. hey are out to lead a team to wins on a nightly basis…which has not gone unnoticed from head coach Dave Hakstol.
“Three good players working hard together, that’s the rhyme and that’s the reason.” Coach Dave Hakstol states “Those three guys have worked hard from day one together, they compete both directions and they played very well for our hockey team.”
That final statement is why this line will stay on their toes and hopefully keep up this scoring pace. This is a line that Coach Dave Hakstol sees playing on a night in and night out basis in crunch time. Now, that crunch time could be trying to get a goal or trying to keep a lead and not give up a goal. This faith and trust is why this line will keep up this scoring pace. Here’s why.
First, Sean Couturier has been the Flyers top defensive center over his whole NHL career. Couturier is not known for his scoring in the NHL, but rather for his defensive zone play. Couturier has been a streaky scorer over his career. He could go from a PPG type guy to someone who scores once every 10 games real fast. Couturier’s great play is a result of his scoring touch. It is led by his great play over the last 25 games last season and his promotion to the Flyers top line this year. This has Flyers fans believing Couturier is turning a corner and finding a new part to his game many believe he didn’t have. His scoring touch is making Couturier a real candidate for the Frank Selke Trophy, awarded each year to the best NHL forward for his defensive play.
“You know every night I know I’m going to get chances offensively playing with G and Jake.” Couturier stated, “We’re all creative, we all like to make plays so pretty confident going in every night, you know you’re going to get a few chances and so far it’s been great.”
Second, Claude Giroux is a face-off specialist. Giroux is the Flyers late game face-offs guy. But, Giroux has been off his game over the last couple of years. Giroux has ranked in the top 10 in face-off win percentage for most of his career. When he hasn’t, his scoring has suffered. The understanding is Giroux tries to focus to much on his face-off skills rather than scoring. That is something he doesn’t have to worry about anymore being a LW to Sean Couturier now. It could be a direct reason to why we are seeing an increase to his scoring touch.
“When you’re put in with two good players like that, it makes your job a lot easier.” Giroux states, “I played down low sometimes and sometimes Jake does. We kind of move around and communicate out there.”
Third, Jake Voracek is an assist machine. Voracek has led the Flyers in assists in 2 of the last 3 years. But over his career, Voracek has either gone missing or been a leader. This year looks like he is going to lead the Flyers in assists again. His combination of speed and skill is what makes him so hard to play against. However, when he plays with scoring players on his line, he plays dramatically better. When Voracek has played with Giroux, he has had his best years. Voracek set his career high in goals with another Flyer. That Flyer is his center now, Sean Couturier. This chemistry is back now, joining his best goal scoring season center and his old reliable partner in Claude Giroux.
“We’re scoring, skating well which is important,” Voracek stated, “Were usually going to get the most minutes on the team so we have to make sure on the plus numbers.”
In the end, no matter what happens, this line will do great things this year. Even if they do not stay on this exact pace, they will still make this team great by taking pressure away from the other Flyers lines. But, look forward to a couple new personal records for these Flyers.
Sean Couturier is on pace to break his season records for goals, assists, and total points. Jake Voracek is on pace to break his season records for assists and total points. And Claude Giroux is on pace to break his season record for goals and total points. All these records, including the players themselves, were records they were not thinking about breaking this season. However, the leadership from Claude Giroux giving up his #1 center position and Sean Couturier stepping up to the opportunity at hand, has lead the Flyers 1st line to great success to start the season.
Fingers crossed they can keep up this pace somewhat.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports