Many view the Flyers going into the 2015-2016 season as a bubble team to get into the playoffs. With every game meaning so much to the Flyers playoff chances this year, it’ll be crucial that the line combinations are created effectively by new coach Dave Hakstol. With the departure of players like Nicklas Grossmann and Zac Rinaldo the Flyers lines could look like similar to this, this season.
Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Sam Gagner-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds
Vinny Lecavalier-Sean Couturier-Matt Read
R.J Umberger-Chris VandeVelde-Ryan White
Extras: Scott Laughton, Nick Cousins
Starting with the first line, it may come as a surprise to some that Sam Gagner isn’t on the same line with Giroux and Voracek. However the biggest reason Raffl gets the top left wing spot is because he’s a left handed shot. With Voracek already being an off-wing (left handed shot on the right wing), the Flyers would be risking their defensive play by putting Gagner on the left wing on the first line because he’s a right handed shot and having two off wings on the same line could be risky. Raffl also fits pretty nicely on the first line with Giroux and Voracek as he can do some of the dirty work for them (win board battles, make a big poke check or hit, etc) while still contributing with his rising offensive skills, remember Raffl had 21 goals last year. The second line for the Flyers is one that has potential to be an unique offensive force in the league. With 3 offensive minded players on the same line all with different attributes, the chemistry on this line could be explosive. Sam Gagner has the potential to have a career year on the left wing, last season 8 of his 15 goals came on the left side. With a higher quality and quantity of shots coming from Gagner on left wing, premier power forward Wayne Simmonds will be very busy afront of the net gobbling up rebounds and deflecting shots, from this he could have a 30 goal season. Brayden Schenn could also have a breakout year that Flyers fans have been waiting for if given the chance to center Gagner and Simmonds. Schenn’s speed and two way play would be the perfect compliment to Gagner’s shot and Simmonds power game. The third line should consist of Sean Couturier at center with Matt Read on the right wing and Vinny Lecavalier on the left wing. The play of these 3 players is the biggest factor if the Flyers make the playoffs or not. Since Lecavalier is always being grilled for his defensive play then why not put him with the best Flyers checking forward in Sean Couturier. Sure, Lecavalier will start in the defensive zone more, but it will take the pressure off of Vinny in his own end and let him focus on what he does better and that is put up points. And since number 40 has complained about not getting to play with offensive talent since joining the team, giving him the chance to play with a player who’s a two time 20 goal scorer will end that. Matt Read who also had a disappointing season last year, now would get the chance to play with a more dynamic offensive player in Vinny Lecavalier instead of relying on the more defensively minded Sean Couturier. Lecavalier is definitely aging, but there is still some elite vision left in the 35 year old’s eyes and that could be just what’s needed to get the Flyers best sniper back in a 20 goal mode. On the fourth line Dave Hakstol is going to give his former North Dakota player Chris VandeVelde the chance to be center as he’s very familiar and probably confident with his play. On the right wing will be Ryan White who had a career high 6 goals last year and a nice 51.96% corsi percentage. RJ Umberger will be on the other side of VandeVelde as the former 20 goal scorer for the Blue Jackets is simply a player who has seen his skill set deteriorate faster then his skating speed. Umberger doesn’t really add much to the Flyers anymore and is best suited for a 4th line role where he could contribute possibly 10 goals playing against lesser competition on a nightly basis.
What Do You Guys Think Of These Line Combinations?
AS ALWAYS THANKS FOR READING