There aren’t too many surprises on the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening roster, but their line and pairing placement is interesting.
First Line: Scott Hartnell / Claude Giroux / Brayden Schenn
Brayden Schenn started his rookie season in the NHL with a broken foot and didn’t score his first goal until the Winter Classic. He went on a tear to finish the second half of the season, ending with 12 goals and 18 points. His latest stint with the Phantoms also placed him in the top 10 in the AHL.
It will be interesting to see just how much of a factor Jaromir Jagr was on the top line’s success last season. Schenn certainly isn’t a Jagr-type player, but he won’t be out of place.
Second/Third Lines: Max Talbot / Sean Couturier / Jake Voracek ; Matt Read / Scott Laughton / Wayne Simmonds
The second line and third lines are somewhat interchangeable. There really isn’t a set “shutdown” line as much as there are two lines with defensive players and goal scorers.
Scott Laughton’s inclusion in the line-up makes sense while Danny Briere is out with a hairline fracture in his wrist, but I would have liked to see him start the season on the fourth line. Sean Couturier didn’t develop into a shutdown center overnight, and neither will Laughton.
Fourth Line: Ruslan Fedotenko / Eric Wellwood / Zac Rinaldo
Again, I would have switched Rusty with Laughton, but that’s just my humble (and unrequested) opinion. Between all three, this fourth line brings speed, tenacity and a goal scoring touch (with Fedotenko). It’s certainly versatile on paper.
Healthy Scratched Forwards: Jody Shelley, Tom Sestito
First Defensive Pairing: Nicklas Grossmann / Braydon Coburn
This is the Flyers’ strongest pairing at the moment. Both are capable of being elite shutdown defensemen, while Coburn’s offensive abilities are above average.
Second Defensive Pairing: Kimmo Timonen / Luke Schenn
This is… less than ideal. Timonen certainly has the skillset to anchor this pairing, but his longevity is going to be questionable in a 48-game sprint to the playoffs. Schenn has also struggled in the NHL in the last few years, having been scratched by the Toronto Maple Leafs last season because he couldn’t handle third pairing duty.
I’m cautiously optimistic that the new environment and support will bring out his potential.
Third Defensive Pairing: Andrej Meszaros / Kurtis Foster
Meszaros, if completely healthy, would likely be skating with Timonen. As it stands, he is not fully confident in the strength of his tendons after coming back from injury, so he will be used sparingly in the third pairing for the time being.
Foster is a new face on the Flyers, but he’s been around the league long enough to be a competent third pairing defenseman. He’s not the swiftest, but he’s proficient and has a powerful shot.
Healthy Scratch: Bruno Gervais
Bryz is as Bryz does.
The Flyers aren’t lacking in defensive-minded forwards. Read, Couturier, Schenn, Giroux, Talbot, Wellwood, Voracek, Laughton and Fedotenko can kill penalties (with Rinaldo supposedly in the mix somehow too).
On the powerplay, Simmonds and Hartnell will still be setting up in front of the net while Voracek works one of the points. Couturier may be working the point on the second unit based on his time in Glens Falls.
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In general, expect some ugly hockey in the first few weeks, from both the Flyers and their opponents. Once the roster settles in (and ‘final’ line combinations begin to shake out), though, this team is strong enough on paper to compete night in and night out.