VOORHEES, N.J. — First, second, third or fourth.
Does it really matter with the lines?
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol doesn't care much for the numbered distinction between his forwards when he makes the lineup ahead of a game.
But what it can do is highlight a team's depth, good or bad.
For the Flyers right now, two exciting first-round picks no older than 20 are being featured on the third line, an example of how far the Flyers have come from recent years past.
So maybe the statuses don't matter, but they can be telling. Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick making up the third unit with Dale Weise marks a positive development for the Flyers even before their home opener against the Capitals has arrived Saturday night (see Flyers-Capitals thoughts).
"I don't label them," Hakstol said after the morning skate. "You guys always label them. I guess I look at the role and how guys are playing on any given night and what they contribute to our hockey team. Everybody's got to go out and do their job on any one given night.
"Nolan and T.K. have been together with Weiser now for a short period of time. They've shown good chemistry, they've created good opportunities offensively, and they've been able to limit chances against. That's been a good line. I don't number them. I just look at whether they're a good line or not."
Two seasons ago, Konecny and Patrick were each eclipsing 100 points at the junior level. That's some serious talent being sprinkled deeper into the Flyers' forwards group.
Similar to Hakstol, Konecny doesn't care about the labels. He said the same opportunities come no matter where you play.
"Our team is pretty deep this year," Konecny said. "I wouldn't consider any line any … like even our so-called fourth has been our best line. I really don't look at it any different than I did last year, I played top six last year. I'm playing with two forwards who could be top six, too, so it's good hockey. We're having fun.
"I wouldn't even call it a lower role. We have Patty and Weiser on the center and the wing on my line. It's a guy with great vision and Weiser has probably one of the heaviest shots on our team. If we can get on the puck a little bit more, I think that's going to create a little bit more for us."
Konecny and Patrick on a third line can also create favorable matchups against teams not as balanced, making for more chances, resulting in more confidence.
"It's awesome, it's good, we get a lot of opportunities, he creates a lot of offense," Konecny said of playing with Patrick. "He's good at getting the puck out, too, which helps with transitioning from defense to offense, so it's been good so far."
Just don't label them.
Capitals star Alex Ovechkin is doing, well, what he does best — score goals.
At 32 years old but in superb shape, he looks as lethal as ever.
"Everybody knows he's one of the most dynamic scorers in the game," Hakstol said. "He's going at a hell of a pace right now, so we've got to do the best that we can. There are some things we can talk about to try to limit and we're going to do that."
The Flyers will be giving out T-shirts for the home opener.
The atmosphere should be electric. How the Flyers' rookies handle the early energy rush will be important.
"They know what's in store, but again, they have to go through the experience of it," Hakstol said. "They've got good older guys, older veterans around them that will help them with that. If there are some jitters and adrenaline the first couple shifts, that's to be expected. I'm confident those guys will settle in and play the way they play."
The Capitals are splitting up their goaltending duties this weekend. Braden Holtby, the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner, played Friday night, so the Flyers will see backup Philipp Grubauer tonight.
That may not be a huge break.
The 25-year-old Grubauer is 2-1-0 with a 1.69 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in four career games against the Flyers.
According to a report by Flyers.NHL.com contributor Bill Meltzer, rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim will be a healthy scratch tonight as Brandon Manning inserts the lineup.
Morning skate was optional so it is uncertain how the Flyers' lineup shakes out. Sanheim took part and was one of the final players off the ice, which is notable considering extra work is usually taken by the healthy scratches.
Based on the morning goalie work, Brian Elliott will start in net.
With all that said, here's our best-educated projection for tonight's lineup:
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas
Scratches: Forward Jori Lehtera and defenseman Travis Sanheim.