Flyers’ first line in flux for back-to-back Detroit set

James van Riemsdyk

VOORHEES – Scott Gordon isn’t known for making changes after winning efforts but that doesn’t mean he will sit still if something needs fixing.

The matter in question is whether Gordon will stick with a first line of Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny for Saturday’s home game against Detroit or shake things up a bit.

He already did that in Tuesday’s 5-4 win at Minnesota when he moved Jake Voracek up to the first unit to replace Konecny. Sean Couturier, who has been centering a line with Voracek on it, figures in the mix, too.

Of course, it’s all about chemistry but that can be a fluid situation.

The Flyers figure to have their hands full with back-to-back games against the Red Wings, who recently have warmed up and knocked off Nashville the other night.

The series concludes on Sunday in Detroit.

“The last two games, I didn’t see a whole lot happening (with the first line) for them offensively,’’ Gordon said after Friday’s practice at the Skate Zone.

“I talked to all three of them (Giroux, JVR, Konecny) yesterday and I think in a perfect world if they’re firing on all cylinders, it makes us a harder team to play against. But the reality is we need to have that happen soon.’’

Although the Flyers are on a 10-1-1 run, they still have at least an eight-point hole to climb out of for a playoff spot with only 25 games to play.

So there might not be too much time to experiment.

“Before I quit on it,’’ Gordon said, “I want to make sure – particularly TK and JVR — are doing all that they can because we know ‘G’ (Giroux) is going to produce and they should be the benefactors of some of the plays he can make.

“But they’ve also got to do some things better than they have been doing.’’

 

>Trade talk in spotlight

 

As the Feb. 25 trade deadline draws closer, not a day goes by that a rumor isn’t lighting up the airwaves.

As mentioned before, the Flyers are doing their best to block out such talk, even if they’re not the subject of speculation.

“They’re just rumors until something actually happens,’’ said rookie goalie Carter Hart, one of the few players on the Flyers who is considered “untouchable.’’

Hart has been “forced’’ to talk about the hot rumor that Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot will be coming to the Flyers soon in exchange for Brian Elliott, specifically because the Oilers are in need of salary cap space.

“I can’t be worried about any of that,’’ Hart said. “You just worry about what you can control, which is playing hockey.’’

Said Giroux: “You’re not too sure what’s going to happen. But I think it’s important that we stay tight. That kind of stuff is in the back of your mind. You talk about it but you try not to focus on it too much.’’

>Not easy to sweep back-to-backs vs. same team

It’s tough enough playing a team desperate for points one time. But to do it in back-to-back days is even that much harder.

Overall, the Flyers have been better of late, winning the second half (considered the harder of the two games) the last two times out (Rangers, Wild).

“It’s certainly never easy,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “But we’re both in the same boat, so that’s nice. Every team has to deal with it in the course of the season. So you just have to make sure you’re doing the right things to recover.’’

>Short shots

Hart will start Saturday’s game. Gordon is still undecided about the rematch on Sunday. Anthony Stolarz did shut out the Red Wings in Detroit a couple years ago. . .Sam Morin is back with the Phantoms on a conditioning assignment. When he’s ready to come back to the Flyers, it will be interesting to see what the team does with its defense corps. It could have eight healthy bodies, providing a trade doesn’t take place. . .Gordon indicated the Flyers believed the one-game suspension to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin for swinging his stick at the Flyers’ Michael Raffl on Monday night was justified, even though contact wasn’t made. “It wasn’t a high stick, it was a baseball swing,’’ Gordon said. “Just because you don’t connect doesn’t mean that it wasn’t vicious. It was intent and it didn’t connect but I don’t think you reward a player because he didn’t connect.’’

Wayne Fish
About Wayne Fish 673 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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