Have the Flyers found their fourth line identity?

Flyers' Nicolas Deslauriers
Philadelphia Flyers’ Nicolas Deslauriers celebrates after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Piecemealing an identity, the Philadelphia Flyers are tightly battling the best in the league due to their bottom line; the identity line.

The most successful rendition of the fourth line to date was centered by Lukas Sedlak, featuring Nicolas Deslauriers and Wade Allison. Two days ago, the Flyers hosted the Carolina Hurricanes in an overtime loss, where John Tortorella was proud of the team effort. When asked about the two periods featuring heavy contributions from the fourth line, whether he took away more positives from the performance, Tortorella emphatically answered, “you’re God damn right I do.”

Again, Philadelphia battled from trailing by two goals after the first period. In the second period, the team rallied to tie the game, and eventually take the lead in the third. Deslauriers, Sedlak, and Allison each had two points, sandwiching a powerplay goal by Owen Tippett. The final score didn’t break their way, allowing the Hurricanes to escape with an overtime victory.

Throughout the contest, you could tell the Flyers were wearing down their opponent. Sedlak and Deslauriers stood out, pushing the puck out of their defensive zone, and keeping the puck deep on offense with a stubborn forecheck.

“I think it was just, our energy and skating were good on forecheck where we got a couple of pucks and created chances off the forecheck. Like the first goal, we put the puck deep and held onto it. Was just good forecheck, skating, and puck protection.”

Lukas Sedlak; 10/29/2022

Win or lose, the performance versus Carolina was another consistent blend of what to expect from Philadelphia. An analytics department nightmare, sustainability is up for debate. To an extent, Tortorella is defying analytics with an old-school approach; the personality and tenacity of the lineup match the energy of opponents who are more skilled.

Sedlak nailed the recipe: a stubborn forecheck, swift skating, and an added emphasis on protecting the puck. He and Deslauriers complement one another, excelling at keeping their decisions north-south. Sticking Allison with those two is a message to play north-south, instead of lateral. Tortorella did add that Allison is still figuring out who he is at the NHL level, but likes how he is progressing.

“That’s how they want me to play and to have two other guys that play like that, it forces me to play like that. That’s something we’re working on together.”

Wade Allison; 10/29/2022

Lately, Allison saw his playing time dwindle. Over the last two games, Allison is at the very bottom of the time on ice category. When the Florida Panthers visited the Wells Fargo Center, Allison played the fewest minutes in a lineup featuring eleven forwards. He was at the bottom of the list again versus the Hurricanes but performed mightily. In 6:14, Allison notched a goal on three shots, an assist, three hits, and a neutral zone takeaway.

“We’re having fun out there. We’re working hard. We kind of know where each other are going to be, so it’s been good.”

Wade Allison; 10/29/2022

Chemistry is blooming between these three. If Tortorella decides to keep these three together, which seems to be the plan to elevate Allison, the Flyers might’ve stumbled upon their identity line. Additionally, they contribute to the scoring committee; a true evolution of the fourth line.

“You see all the best teams in the NHL have a fourth line that can score goals too. It’s not just grinders and fighters anymore. You need four lines to chip in, and that’s what we did today.”

Lukas Sedlak; 10/29/2022

Tomorrow, Philadelphia is on the road against the New York Rangers. Spearheaded by Sedlak, this line with Deslauriers and Allison deserves attention. In seven career games against the Rangers, Sedlak has three goals. Don’t be shocked if this identity line sets a tone in Madison Square Garden.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)