Flyers’ checking line looks to go on the offensive

Ryan Poehling

      PHILADELPHIA – While the Flyers’ fourth line might be exceptional at stopping opponents from scoring, some better production of their own would be helpful.

      Going into Thursday night’s game against Washington, the line of Ryan Poehling centering Nick Deslauriers and Garnet Hathaway had produced only four goals and eight assists for 12 points (not counting the occasional secondary center) in 28 games.

      Not that coach John Tortorella is interested in having the trio target the net more. It’s just that it’s fun once in a while to turn the red light on.

      “We bring different things as a role in our line,” Hathaway said prior to the game at the Wells Fargo Center. “And we’ve been successful at a lot of them. Creating havoc on the forecheck, being responsible. We’re just trying to build our game every game.”

      Poehling hasn’t played every game in the middle of that line but when he does, it adds a different dimension to the checking unit.

      “You can see how quick his transition is,” Hathaway said. “He’s smart, he has a really good stick, closes on the ‘D’ zone well and that creates chances the other way. There are a lot of times we’re chasing the puck and I think he gets on it, controls it well and I think it helps us get out of our zone and into the other zone really fast.”

      Poehling signed a one-year free-agent contract and, at 24, the future is all in front of him. He plays the game with such savvy, it’s hard to believe he’s that young.

      “I do forget he’s 24,” Hathaway said with a smile. “I’ve played against him (when Poehling played for Pittsburgh). If you ask him, he wants to build his game, too. He had chances playing on other lines and was successful offensively.”

      With Noah Cates sidelined for at least another month, Poehling has moved up to a higher line on certain nights but the Flyers just finished a 2-0-1 road trip and Tortorella tends to stay with a winning hand.

      “I like what the lines are now,” he said. “We’re going to stick with it.”

      Poehling is a big reason why the Flyers’ penalty kill has shot up to No. 5 in the NHL at 86.7 percent.

      “It (his speed) has helped us with our penalty killing,” Tortorella  confirmed. “That’s given him an opportunity to move up. The other lines are playing pretty well, too.”

      >Short shots

      With goaltender Carter Hart sidelined due to illness, the Flyers called up Felix Sandstrom from Lehigh Valley on an emergency basis. To make room on the roster, defesneman Louie Belpedio was assigned to the Phantoms. . .Veteran defenseman Marc Staal returned to the lineup for Thursday night’s game and Egor Zamula was scratched. . .The Flyers return to action on Saturday when they host the surprising Detroit Red Wings. Detroit stood fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 15-9-4 record heading into Thursday night action. . .Flyers forward Tyson Foerster entered the Caps game at plus-7, one off the NHL rookie lead.

  • ,
  •  or
Avatar photo
About Wayne Fish 2452 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.