PHILADELPHIA – For awhile there it looked for all the world like that Flyers’ fourth-line center spot was going to be held by a Russian, be it Mikhail Vorobyev or German Rubtsov.
And somewhere down the line, that might be the case.
But for now, coach Alain Vigneault has decided to go with veteran Michael Raffl in the middle.
That left the door open for the promotion of a wing player from the Phantoms and it’s the biggest reason why Andy Andreoff has suddenly appeared in the lineup.
Making the transition easy is the fact that Andreoff is a 28-year-old journeyman who has been around the NHL and doesn’t need a whole lot of time to learn a new system.
So far he’s fit in rather well with Raffl and Tyler Pitlick.
“During training camp, he didn’t earn a spot on the team and that’s why he wasn’t here,’’ said coach Alain Vigneault, who doesn’t pull any punches on his player evaluations.
“We went through a couple guys (Vorobyev, Rubtsov). . .(general manager) Chuck (Fletcher) had seen him lately at Lehigh Valley and he was playing well. We decided to call him up.’’
Andreoff, a 6-foot-1, 203-pound native of Pickering, Ont., played 159 games with the Los Angeles Kings before signing as a free agent with the Flyers last summer. He’s a former third-round (80th overall) draft pick of the Kings.
In 10 games with the Phantoms, he posted three goals and seven points with a plus-1.
“We decided to call him up,’’ said Vigneault. “And he’s earned his first two starts. He has to continue to play the way he has.’’
Andreoff has played extensively in the AHL and had perhaps his best season came last year when he posted 26 goals and 55 points in 75 games with the Syracuse Crunch.
“If there’s a chance you’re going to get called up, you take advantage of that,’’ he said. “The time there was good, I was working on my confidence.
“It (NHL experience) definitely helps. I can hop right in and fill that defined role. It was a pretty easy transition playing with ‘Pitter’ and ‘Raff.’ For me, it’s just keeping it simple, being strong on the walls, creating that energy, finishing my checks.’’
For the time being, Vigneault sounds like he has trust in this trio. After four straight wins, he’s probably not looking to change too much in his lineup.
“That line was not just able to kill time (in Sunday night’s 3-2 shootout win at Boston), they were able to do something with their time on the ice,’’ the coach said.
“Spend some time in the other team’s end, good on the forecheck and when they got the puck, they made some plays. In the Toronto and the Boston games, I was able to use that line on a regular basis.’’
>Hayes looking to score
Kevin Hayes entered Wednesday night’s game without a goal in his last eight games.
At times, it looks like he’s been pressing, although he has been playing a good two-way game.
“I do think there’s more there,’’ Vigneault said. “When he defends well and plays that 200-foot game, the offense follows.
“Right now I do think he’s pressing a little bit offensively, putting pressure on himself. He just needs to understand that his best hockey this year (is when) he’s fully committed to where it’s defense first and then offense. When he does that, he’s a real effective player.’’
After scoring goals in three straight games, defenseman Philippe Myers is starting to look like the player who tore it up at the end of last season.
When Myers scored on Sunday night, it marked the first time a Flyers defenseman has scored in three straight games since Hall of Famer Mark Howe turned the trick way back in 1987.
“I’m happy the goals are going in,’’ Myers said. “But I’m not trying to do everything on my own. It’s seeing the opportunities that are there and capitalizing on them.
“But I’m just trying to play my two-way game. Like I’ve said, if you play well defensively, the rest will take care of itself. I’m just going to try to stay humble, work at my game and keep that mindset.’’