Flyers appear to have ideal defense alignment

Robert Hagg


Raise your hand if you remember the last time the Flyers dressed three sets of defensemen where each has a lefty and righty shooter.

Didn’t think so.

Yes, it’s been a while, perhaps because there’s been a shortage of righties in Philadelphia over the past couple decades.

But all that may be changing.

If coach Alain Vigneault sticks to the pairs he’s been using in training camp, he could have some ideal tandems for opening night of postseason action on Aug. 2.

Right now, right-handed Matt Niskanen is paired with left-handed Ivan Provorov; right-handed Phil Myers with left-handed Travis Sanheim and right-handed Justin Braun with left-handed Robert Hagg.

Even if Shayne Gostisbehere recovers from knee surgery and possibly pushes aside Hagg, “Ghost’’ is a lefty, too, so the L-R alignment would remain intact.

The geometry is simple: When two lefties or two righties are on the ice together, one has to play on his backhand. When it’s split, everybody is on their forehand. That’s an advantage.

“I’m a big believer, liker of left D, right D,’’ Vigneault said after Saturday’s scrimmage in day six of training camp at the Skate Zone. “I think it just makes it easier on those D pairs to move the puck and to move it quicker.

“There’s better angles on the passing. If we can have that, it’s definitely a bonus.’’

Speaking of Hagg, he filled in nicely when Gostisbehere went down with knee surgery in January. He was among the team’s leaders in both blocked shots and hits. He did some of his best work during the Flyers’ nine-game winning streak in early March.

“He played very well for us,’’ Vigneault said. “Played physical, blocked a lot of shots, kept his decision-making with the puck simple. He was an effective player for us.’’

Hagg has had to battle for ice time ever since he joined the Flyers a few years back. He knows he’s in for another tussle when the playoffs start.

“I want to play every single game,’’ he said. “I have to play as good as I can, even in practice. In this training camp, I have no other goals than to break this lineup and play in the playoffs.’’

>Laughton open to wing or center

Scott Laughton played a lot at center early in his career but he’s also experienced success as a left wing.

No one is quite sure where Laughton will be playing once the playoffs start. Not even him.

“I think earlier in my career I was more comfortable at center,’’ Laughton said. “The way the last couple years have gone, switching back and forth I think I’m comfortable at both positions.

“Pretty much wherever they need me I’ll go. Both positions I’ve played enough in the last couple years. . .I’m definitely more comfortable at wing than at the start of my career but either/or is good.’’

Winning both the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award and Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (most improved player, voted by teammates) recently might boost Laughton’s confidence a bit. He enjoyed his best season, registering a career-high 13 goals in a shortened campaign.

“It means a lot,’’ he said. “To get the votes (from teammates) means a great deal. I’ve worked hard to be a reliable player here. At the end of the day, it’s about winning and I want to be a part of that.’’

>Laperriere refs

Former Flyer player and now assistant coach Ian Laperriere volunteered to be an on-ice official for Saturday’s scrimmage and there were a few humorous moments.

“I think Lappy was putting on the cape a little bit with the icing calls,’’ Laughton said with a chuckle. “It was good. Just a really good pace to our skate. Good to get that in and continue to build onto our game.’’



Avatar photo
About Wayne Fish 2437 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.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.