As the Flyers struggle to find what is holding them back this season, Coach Berube has started to experiment a bit more with the lines. In hopes to find an unstoppable combination, Berube is trying players out in new positions and even promoting an AHL player to the top line.
Let’s start with the first line. Hartnell has been missing from the first line, and instead, practicing on the “fifth” line while recovering from an upper-body injury. His recent line-mates include Jay Rosehill and Kris Newbury. On the other hand, Lecavalier, who is expected to return to the line-up this Thursday from a lower-body injury, has been practicing with the first line. However, he has been playing the wing position, an interesting transition for him after playing center for 15 years in the NHL. Although he does not have much experience as a winger, he said he does feel more comfortable on the right side and will adjust to the position if it can put more pucks in the net.
The third member of the first line is the most surprising though. Michael Raffl, who was cut during training camp and sent down to the AHL, has now found himself practicing with the top line. Berube likes Raffls’ size, skill, and confidence, and hopes he can complete a top line that can turn this season around. The rest of the lines have seen the trickle-down effect of these changes as well with McGinn, Schenn, and Voracek making up the second line; Simmonds, Courturier, and Read on the third line; and Talbot, Hall, and Rinaldo rounding out the fourth line.
The top power-play unit has also seen some rearranging, as Streit has taken over Timonen’s spot. Timonen is not thrilled about his demotion, which is the first time he will not play the top unit since he joined the Flyers in 2007. However, in the first six games, the Flyers are only 1 for 21 on the power-play. A change had to be made, so Berube mixed up the entire unit. Lecavalier has been practicing on the top power-play unit as well with Giroux, Simmonds, Voracek, and Streit. Berube hopes that this will motivate Timonen, as well as other Flyers who have been demoted, to get back into the game with some confidence. The coach wants his players to fight for those top spots and gain enough momentum to win some more games.
On Thursday, it will be interesting to see whether Hartnell and Lecavalier, who are both listed as day-to-day, make it to the ice. If Lecavalier is playing, will Berube try out his new top line and will it bring a Flyers’ victory? Only time will tell as the Flyers face-off against the Rangers this Thursday at 7 pm.