New coach, new system, and a bunch of new line combinations. Alain Vigneault is still getting his feet wet with this team. By doing so, fans are seeing a lot of names spread throughout the lineup. Bottom six guys in and out of the lineup, top 6 guys jumbled around, even defensive pairings aren’t immune to a shakeup.
When the Flyers won their first 2 games, the lineup stayed the same until the Calgary game. Three games in a row, AV went with the same four lines on offense. Since then, the lines haven’t stopped changing.
James Van Riemsdyk finds himself on the top line after starting the season on the third line. Kevin Hayes dropped from 1C to 3C. Lindblom has held steady as one of the wingers on the second line. Jakub Voracek has seen top line time and fourth line minutes.
Vigneault isn’t even done yet.
Carsen Twarynski and Connor Bunnaman were both sent down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Mikhail Vorobyev and Joel Farabee were both called up to the Flyers. Lines are going to get jumbled still. Farabee won’t sniff fourth line minutes. The Flyers have a pair of talented wingers of which one will likely be on the third line.
The issue here is depth.
The Flyers are pretty deep with talent on offense. As a result, top six talent gets pushed down to the third line. As stated by Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic, you run into road blocks as a result.
When one line gets hot, you don’t want to mess with the chemistry. Since the Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny line has been good as of late, Vigneault won’t be looking to break them up. That leaves you with three lines to place nine players.
JVR hasn’t found his groove just yet. Neither has Giroux or Voracek for that matter. Vigneault won’t move Giroux off of the top line. He’s too good, period. AV has shown that he doesn’t mind putting Voracek down the lineup, evidenced by his demotion to the fourth line against Vancouver.
Hayes has fluctuated between first, second, and third line center. He most recently found himself centering Scott Laughton and rookie Joel Farabee. If Vigneault wants to make a splash, he could bump Farabee up into Voracek’s first line spot and see what happens.
The fourth line is likely set in a state of flux. Raffl will be the mainstay, while Pitlick, Vorobyev and Stewart will compete for the last spot in the lineup.
Overall, there isn’t a ton of wiggle room. Discounting any type of call-up, Vigneault has his forwards to play with, and will be jumbling up the lineup a few more times before he finds something that he’s particularly comfortable with.
Expect AV to tinker with the lineup a few more times. It’s not uncommon, and honestly, it’s a good thing that it’s happening this early in the season. The sooner AV finds his “ideal” roster, the sooner we could see some of these bigger names start putting up points.