Flyers’ ‘Pay Line’ earning big dividends

Noah Cates

      PHILADELPHIA – As far as the list of successful Flyers’ lines goes this season, the Ryan Poehling trio, aka, the “Pay Line,” is quickly moving up the ranks.

      Since they were put together, the threesome of Poehling at center, Garnet Hathaway at right wing and Noah Cates has excelled at both ends of the ice.

      In last week’s slump-busting, convincing win over the contending Tampa Bay Lightning, each member of the line was a plus-3.

      That shows they can score goals as well as stop them.

      Much of hockey is based on instinct and knowing where players are going to be headed. This group seemed to know each other’s moves almost from the very first day they were put together.

      “I think just knowing where one another is important, staying close to one another – we’ve done a good job of supporting one another,” Poehling said prior to Saturday night’s game against Ottawa at the Wells Fargo Center. “That’s kind of how we’re creating our chances. Also, checking against the other team. Just trusting each other defensively, filling each other’s spots. It’s been good for us.”

      Communication has to be lightning quick. There’s no time for arm-waving gestures. Just a slight nod of the head sometimes has to suffice. That’s where all three kind of have to know what each other is thinking.

      “A hundred percent,” Poehling confirmed. “I think that just comes with playing each other with time. It’s just trusting one another. It’s just getting better defensively and shutting down the other team’s top line, while producing some scoring chances and some energy.”

      You won’t find too many lines around the NHL that can hit the scoreboard on one side of the rink and stop opponents from doing the same at the other.

      “You want to produce offensively,” Poehling said. “Whether that’s creating penalties, putting your team’s power play out there, creating energy. I think we’ve done a good job of that so far.”

      Cates, who missed nearly two months of action due to a fractured foot, agrees with Poehling that an “all-service” line can be valuable in virtually every situation.

      He said another injury, the recent one to wing Tyson Foerster, led to the formation of the current Poehling outfit.

      “We came together and it was really good, offensively and defensively,” he said. “We’ve been doing all the right things, staying close together and supporting each other all over the ice.

      “It’s really fun. We have to keep building on both sides of the puck.”

      Hathaway and Poehling noted the word “trust” is so important when a line is still in its formative stages. There can’t be any doubt about being in the right place at the right time.

      “I think trust is the biggest thing,” Cates said. “Knowing that the other guy is coming on the backcheck. This line, I think, is a good combination of grit, speed, smarts and different things like that.”

      Let’s not undersell the idea of consistency, either. Some lines have good performances one night, then struggle on another. Competing every game is a goal for this line.

      “The defensive side of the puck is something you can do every game,” Cates said. “We like to play in the offensive zone and grind teams down. We saw that against Tampa Bay. It’s something we need to do on a regular basis.”
       >Short shots
       After getting scratched two games, Cam Atkinson returned to the lineup for the game against the Senators. Olle Lycksell went to the bench. . .Goaltender Felix Sandstrom, just called up from the Phantoms, made his season debut.
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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.