PRAGUE, Czech Republic – Seven preseason games have come and gone and Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault admits he’s still looking for the right fits on his forward lines.
When it was announced on Thursday that Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, who played much of the last two seasons on one line, would not be playing on the top unit, heads turned.
And there was more eyebrow raising when it was put forth that James van Riemsdyk would start on third line with Scott Laughton and rookie Carsen Twarynski for Friday night’s season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks at O2 Arena.
Vigneault believes that some pairings eventually will be formulated, but for now, it’s all still a work in progress.
Couturier was scheduled to play with Oskar Lindblom on left and Travis Konecny on right.
“I think we can be a really good line,’’ Couturier said. “We just have to come together and get some chemistry going. I think we can be good.’’
Couturier has put together two breakout seasons and he’s one of those players who puts in time on both the power play and the penalty kill.
He acknowledges the “balance’’ approach is worth exploring.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think we scored a lot of goals in the preseason (15 goals in seven games),’’ Couturier said. “Obviously there are some things to change that need to be better.
“Balancing the lines. . .whatever we can do to find the solution. If this will produce more goals, we have to do it.’’
Vigneault doesn’t seem to mind mixing things up a bit.
“I haven’t found lines or duos yet that I would feel would bring us more consistent performances,’’ Vigneault said. “I’m trying different things.
“And as far as James being on the line with Scott and Carsen, I’m looking for balance. He (JVR) is an experienced player, he brings us balance.’’
>Pitlick starting from scratch
Tyler Pitlick, who made a speedy recovery from wrist surgery, was penciled into the season opener starting lineup despite the fact that he did not see any preseason action.
Vigneault implied this might be a chancy move but it’s fairly obvious he wants to see what the ex-Dallas Star player can bring to the table.
“Obviously that’s a concern going into tonight, him having not had an exhibition game,’’ Vigneault said. “So we’ll see how he does. He was cleared to play medically. And he cleared himself. He said condition-wise he was good to go.
“We’ll take it a shift at a time, a period at a time tonight. Hopefully he can come in and contribute well for us.’’
Pitlick looks eager to contribute despite putting on a Flyer game uniform for the first time.
“These past couple days I’ve been able to battle (in practice),’’ Pitlick said. “Shooting’s been good. It (the wrist) has been getting stronger.
“It’s usually nice to get those preseason games in so it’s going to be different. But I’m just going to play my game. I’m not too worried about it.’’
Pitlick was scheduled to play right wing on a fourth line with rookie Connor Bunnaman at center and Michael Raffl on left wing.
>Myers keeping his head up
Second-year defenseman Philippe Myers was understandably disappointed not to make the final roster cut.
He’s still here practicing with the team but will be headed back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this weekend.
Myers was sort of caught in a numbers game because he didn’t have to clear waivers to be sent down and Sam Morin does have to clear waivers if he were to be sent down.
There’s a chance Myers will be back with the Flyers shortly, especially if there are any injuries.
For now, he just has to go to Allentown, keep his head up and be ready in case he returns to Philadelphia.
“I’m just trying to stay positive,’’ he said. “I’m just going to keep working hard and when my time comes, I’ll be ready.’’
At one point in the preseason, Vigneault commented that Myers looked a bit tentative in his play and decision making.
“It’s just something I’m going to have to get back to,’’ Myers said. “I’m sure it will come quick once we start playing games.
“I’m aware of the situation I’m in (not having to clear waivers). It doesn’t make it easier. It’s tough because I really wanted to be up here. I want to compete in the NHL, I want to have a long career. That’s been my dream since I was a kid – it’s kind of heartbreaking getting cut but I’m going to stay positive in all this. I’m going to go down with the right attitude – I’m still alive, I’m not dead or anything.’’
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