This is a two-part series with Philly Sports Network. My colleague, Eric Reese, has already reviewed the first and third lines. These lines will be based on the lineup from when James van Riemsdyk was injured, which was against the Washington Capitals on March 4th, 2020.
Here at Philly Sports Network, we took these series in steps. First, my colleague Eric Reese graded our stellar goaltending as I graded our defenseman. Following that, Eric highlighted our first and third line’s best individual performances this entire season. Now, it’s time to focus on the remaining pieces.
Based on the game that Eric and I chose, the Philadelphia Flyers had already acquired Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, and JVR was uninjured. So, the lines were as follows:
Second Line: Scott Laughton- Kevin Hayes- Travis Konecny
Fourth Line: Michael Raffl- Nate Thompson- Nic Aube-Kubel
This season, especially during their winning streak, the Flyers have gotten scoring from all four of their lines. Their second line served as essentially a 1b to their 1a (G-Coots-Voracek) and has a team-high 60 goals scored combined.
Scott Laughton can be debated as the Flyers’ most versatile player. He has had success on lines two through four, and thrived on the second line. Aside from his personality being a fit, his play making ability gleamed alongside TK and Hayes.
Laughts’ best game this season came during the Flyers’ win streak. The Flyers had won only two games in a row at that point, and eyed a much needed home stand with their opponent being Winnipeg. The Jets came into this game winning three game straight, with Patrick Laine on fire. Scott Laughton made sure to silence any doubters, however, scoring two goals in the first period. The 25-year-old also won six of his ten face-offs. The best part of his night may have come with his team high three blocked shots, which contributed to his +3 night.
Kevin Hayes is proving to be a great offseason signing for Philadelphia. Not only is he producing well and proving to be a league-best penalty killer, his personality brightens the locker room.
Hayes’ best game came back on the Flyers’ ninth game of the season. Philadelphia opened up their season well, but followed it with a dreadful four game losing streak. New-man-on-campus Kevin Hayes would then help cap off a much needed three game winning streak for Philly. Back on October 26th, Hayes showed us a glimpse of his short handed abilities. Hollywood would score the first of his league-leading four short-handed goals to give the Flyers a 5-4 lead in the third period. He dominated the Flyers’ offense with five shots, but still picked up a pair of assists as well.
Now, where do we start with this kid? Whether it be his skill set or his personality, TK has been a gem for the Flyers this season.
Konecny burst onto the scene this season, and is having a breakout year. He has played consistent hockey all year long, but his best game all season came back in Prague. During game one of the season, Travis Konecny showed us what was to come for the season.
Konecny propelled the Flyers past the Blackhawks to set the tone for this season. He picked up a pair of goals and assisted Oskar Lindblom on a goal of his own. Also picking up a hit, a block, and providing us with many chirps, TK played one of his best games this season on game one.
Like mentioned earlier, the Flyers have gotten scoring this season from all four lines. Despite having a constant carousel of call-ups, their fourth line has not failed to find chemistry. After picking up a great fourth line center in Nate Thompson, Philly seemed to finally be settled with their four lines. (In hindsight, we know they weren’t, but at the time, JVR and Thompson both were not hurt).
Michael Raffl is a Philadelphia Flyers’ staple. No matter where this team goes, Raffl has been a consistent depth player under all circumstances. So far this season, #12 has picked up 20 points, while also providing flexibility for Alain Vigneault in making his lines. Raffl is called the ultimate teammate in the Flyers’ locker room, and can flash his skills from time to time as well, which happened back on October 21st.
The Flyers were coming off an awful four game losing streak. The team needed a dark horse to appear and spark something for them to get going, and Raffl did just that. The Vegas Golden Knights came to South Philly, and Raffl helped the Flyers get back to .500 early in the season.
The 31-year-old winger put up a season-high three points on the night. After picking up a pair of assists to help spring the Flyers to a 5-0 lead after the second period, Raffl kept his foot on the gas. Vegas would open up the third period by cutting the Flyers’ lead to three. However, Raffl halted any chance the Knights had by scoring a goal of his own, making the most of his 11 and a half minutes of ice time.
The NHL veteran was playing great hockey for the Flyers since being picked up at the trade deadline. He has only accumulated one assist, but has fifteen hits and nine blocks in his seven games in Philly.
Thompson’s best game of the season comes back when he was playing with Montreal. Back on November 5th, Thompson helped the Canadiens defeat the league-best Bruins, 5-4. In this game, the 35-year-old picked up two hits, blocked four shots and won eight face-offs (58%) to keep the Bruins modest while he was on the ice. In fact, he contributed in the Habs game-winning goal, setting a questionable screen on Rask as teammate Victor Mete put them ahead 4-3.
NAK, like TK, has been a pleasant surprise for the Flyers this season. In every game, those watching always know that Aube-Kubel is playing. He makes his presence known with each shift, playing with high intensity and energy, which forces turnovers and countless opportunities for the Flyers.
NAK made his biggest statement of the season on February 8th. The Washington Capitals played host to the Flyers, who got whooped by the lackluster NJ Devils two nights prior. Knowing that Philly needed a spark, the 23-year-old gave the team just that.
Like mentioned, his intensity sets the tone for the entire team. Throughout the entire first and second period, NAK was buzzing in the Caps’ zone. He was finally rewarded with his forecheck, as he caused a turnover down low and sniped one past Holtby.
NAK picked up an assist on Michael Raffl’s go ahead goal early in the second period for his other point on the night. Along with this, he completed his Gordie Howe hat trick with a big win in a fight against Brendan Leipsic in the third period.
The fact that this kid is even on the fourth line should show us something about coach Alain Vigneault’s line making, as well as the true depth this team has.
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports