Flyers make changes to middle lines in order to boost secondary scoring

In the first 2 weeks of the season, the Flyers were being led by depth scoring and consistent scoring from all lines. Now, a month later, all the Flyers offense is coming from the 1st line only.

The 1st line, Giroux-Couturier-Voracek, have been leading the Flyers in the goal scoring department since the depth scoring disappeared. Why did it disappear? That question has GM Ron Hextall puzzled at the moment.

“We weren’t getting a lot,” Hextall stated, “It’s something we need to get better at. We have a lot of good players there. For whatever reason, the chemistry just hasn’t been there.”

The missing chemistry he is talking about is struggling because of the vacant 3rd line center spot.  That spot, normally occupied by Nolan Patrick, hasn’t produced anything for the Flyers since Patrick’s injury back on Oct. 24th against the Ducks.

Coach Dave Hakstol had to move Jori Lehtera from his second line LW spot, where he was playing very well along side Valterri Filpulla and Wayne Simmonds, to fill the absence left by Patrick. Lehtera has done a great job stepping into the 3rd line center spot.

“I think Jori’s done a good job,” Hakstol said, “With Nolan (Patrick) being out of the lineup he’s moved to the middle where he’s comfortable and he’s done a very good job. Overall, he’s been a  positive player for us.”

Yes, he has been a positive player for the Flyers.  However, his positive play hasn’t been on the scoring side. Lehtera has the best faceoff winning percentage by any Flyers center this season. That will be very valuable when the Flyers get Patrick back in the lineup.

That looks like something Coach Dave Hakstol is preparing to happen very soon. On Monday, Hakstol decided to mix up the middle 6 a little to help boost the offense and set up a Patrick return. Hakstol made the following line changes Monday during practice…

Weise – Weal – Simmonds

Lehtera – Filppula – Konecny

The changes are looking like a very soon return to the lineup for Patrick, who practiced Monday with the team for the first time since his injury. Jordan Weal and Dale Weise moved up from the 3rd line and Valterri Filppula and Travis Konecny moved down from the 2nd line.The lineup changes have Weal moving back to center, something he has struggled at in his time in the NHL.

“We’re just frustrated we’re not helping the team as much as we can,” Weal said. “Our first line’s playing great, and the 4th is buzzing around and playing well. The two lines in the middle, we’re definitely playing hard and trying to make things happen. We’re just about there, and maybe a couple little switches will flip the switch for us.”

This is a clear statement that Nolan Patrick will be back in the lineup very soon and a return date might be in his hometown of Winnipeg Thursday. The Flyers play the Jets in Winnipeg on Thursday and wouldn’t that be a great game for Patrick to return in in-front of his hometown crowd with family and friends in attendance.

It would be pretty cool to play in my hometown,” Patrick stated, “My house is like…the main street where the rink is it’s like 10 minutes down it, 15 minutes down it. It’s pretty close to where I live.”

Patrick returning to the lineup would just move Weal back to his normal LW spot and make Dale Weise the odd man out and a move to the press box. This would give the Flyers four solid balanced lines again, where they could be only one adjustment away to becoming dangerous.

However, for now, the Flyers will use this lineup tonight in Minnesota against a Wild team that just shut them out on Saturday in Philadelphia, led by great goaltending by Devin Dubnyk.

Giroux – Couturier – Voracek

Weise – Weal – Simmonds

Lehtera – Filppula – Konecny

Leier – Laughton – Raffl

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Flyers reporter for Philly Sports Network
Neumann Knights ~ Retired College Athlete
“Dont blame the messenger”

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