VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s been some time since the Flyers were able to put a fourth line together that could be seen as a threat at both ends of the rink.
Maybe this season will be different.
Currently, the Flyers have assembled a line which features one holdover from last season, left wing Nick Deslauriers, along with two newcomers, center Ryan Poehling and right wing Garnet Hathaway.
The coaching staff is using this preseason to see if there’s any chemistry among the various units. So far, this trio seems to be working well together.
Assistant coach Rocky Thompson, who worked the Flyers’ bench for Friday night’s Flyers-Bruins preseason game at TD Garden in Boston, said a key is knowing what the task is at hand.
“Well, they know their roles,” Thompson said at the Friday morning skate at the Flyers Training Center. “They play the same way every shift. They’re predictable. That’s what is good when you’re playing and getting chemistry with one another — the predictability of your linemates.
“And so they’re all on the same page. And I thought they all played really well last game. The opposition doesn’t like it when they get on the ice.”
Some of that might have to do with the fact that Deslauriers was among the fight leaders in the NHL last season. Just his very presence can be a little intimidating.
“When you’re hard to play against like that, it’s important,” Thompson said. “They can play against good lines. If you can play them against good lines, that’s a dangerous combination. Vegas did it last year in the playoffs. They (the fourth line) made a big hit and it was a game-changer.
“So we like the makeup of that (Flyer fourth) line for sure.”
Hathaway has played a checking role before with Washington and Boston. This task should fit his game. Now it’s just about the chemistry with that line.
“The biggest thing is trying to spend time off the ice and on the ice, too. . .getting to know each other,” said Hathaway, who signed on as a free agent in the offseason. “You find out things you might not have known playing against the guy.
“The way a line like ours can be successful is by anticipating what the other guy (linemate) is going to do. As you play faster, knowing where the puck is going to be. It takes time. In some cases, it clicks faster than other cases. We have pretty open lines of communication with each other.”
>Big game for Foerster
Rookie right wing Tyson Foerster has been touted as the next big thing to hit the Flyers’ lineup but there’s still the little matter of proving he belongs here.
That’s what made Friday night’s game a fairly big deal.
“In fairness to Tyson, in the first game (a 6-0 loss at New Jersey), he was ‘bagged’ just like the rest of us (from a lot of skating in practice),” Thompson said. “There wasn’t much support out there for anyone because they were just trying to get through it.
“Tonight will be interesting because he will be fresher. It’s not going to be easy because it’s the Boston Bruins but it will be good to see with a whole gas tank the things that he did positively last year when we called him up.”
>Sanheim switches sides
Defenseman Travis Sanheim was penciled in to play on the right side for the Boston game. He’s a lefty shooter who usually plays on the left.
“He feels comfortable there already (in practice),” Thompson said. “Two years ago he played on the right side and he had a great year. I mean, he didn’t play all the time there. But there was some significant time that he played over there.
“I would say he’s a very active defenseman. When you’re active playing on your off side, sometimes that can be an advantage offensively. Defensively it’s not an issue either. When guys are coming at you one-on-one, your stick is closer to the puck carrier.”
The Flyers would love to see Sanheim have a breakout season after inking him to an eight-year, $50-million contract last season.
“I think he’s had a great camp,” Thompson commented. “He looks good out there. He’s confident, which is important. I’m excited to see him at the top of that unit. I think he looked good in practice out here. He’s moving really well. It will be a good opportunity for him.
“He’s put on a lot of weight this summer and it hasn’t slowed him down. It is confidence and leverage, too. He’s closing out in the corners and he’s looked good so far.”