Line Experiment Produces Chemistry
At the conclusion of October, the Flyers had developed a high-octane first line.
The dynamic duo of Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr teamed up with the physical presence of Scott Hartnell to complete a fully formed unit. Through their first five games together, the unit produced 23 points, composing 55% of the team’s total offense.
While it’s important to have a line that works well together, it’s equally necessary to have other lines mix throughout the lineup. In order for the first pair to be effective, the other lines must provide support.
This is something that the Flyers haven’t had to worry about.
Since the start of November, the team has had 10 different players score goals in three games played. In total, the team has scored 15 goals in those games including a 9-2 blowout of the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.
Aside from the Columbus game, the team had scored six goals in two games with a different goal scorer for each goal, four of which were scored by players not on the first line.
But the most encouraging dynamic of the scoring was the chemistry that stemmed from it. That chemistry culminated in the team’s offensive explosion on Saturday.
During the Columbus blowout, 16 of the 18 players on the bench registered points with each line producing at least two goals.
Eight different players scored goals, which set a franchise record for scorers in a single game.
The most productive unit of the night was the group consisting of Daniel Briere, James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds. They accounted for three of the team’s nine goals and had a combined total of six points.
After scoring three points Saturday, van Riemsdyk acknowledged the role his new linemates played in his success.
“I think we had some really good chemistry,” he said. “It was only our second game together… It was good.”
Simmonds expressed the same sentiment.
“I think we had a strong start and it just carried over from there,” he said. “One goal, two goals, and they just kept coming.”
The completion of the first line has resulted in the other units falling into place thus far for Philadelphia.
Since pairing with his new linemates, van Riemsdyk has scored five points in two games. He’s now tied with Hartnell and Briere for third on the team in total points with 12.
At this point, even the fourth line has started to click offensively for the Flyers.
Rookie Sean Couturier has a three-game point streak since being paired with energy provider, Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo scored just nine points in 60 games in the AHL last season. He has two points in the three games he’s played with Couturier.
With all of the team’s success, coach Laviolette has been adamant that his lines will continue to change as he needs them to. He doesn't view them as invidual units but rather as pieces to a whole.
If the group is performing at a high level, then of course the individual units start looking better.
“I think it was just nice to come out and play well,” Laviolette said. “I think more than anything we wanted to play the game the right way and because of that you see the results you're looking for."