VOORHEES, N.J. -- A big part of the Flyers' early-season success is the upgrade in their fourth line.
Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier have formed a fast, skilled and tenacious bottom three. Leier credits time spent at Lehigh Valley with the former first-round pick Laughton for much of the unit's chemistry early on.
"It's very comforting playing with Scott and Raff," Leier said after Tuesday's morning skate. "Me and Laughts grew up together in the AHL and now we're here together and that's a very comforting feeling. Being with a familiar face and familiar centerman."
While Leier and Laughton developed together with the Phantoms, Raffl was going through a tough, injury-riddled season with the big club. The 28-year-old forward's style of play has fit in nicely with his young linemates.
"Raf is so good down low," Leier said. "He's fast and he's strong. That complements me and Scott and we complement his game very well because we're fast and shifty and can hound pucks and be tenacious in the O-zone and retrieve pucks. He's so good in the corners and holding on to the puck and I think that's really good for me and Scott when we're buzzing around in the O-zone, trying to disrupt [the other team]. Overall, it's been fun to play with those two."
Leier missed Saturday's win over Edmonton with an upper-body injury suffered against Nashville last week, but it appears likely the 23-year-old will draw back into the lineup. The Flyers didn't do line rushes during the morning skate, but Matt Read and Jordan Weal were the last two Flyers on the ice. Weal will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
"It feels good to be back," Leier said. "For any player, being injured is not a good feeling. It's good to be back."
Brian Elliott will get the nod tonight against the Ducks, despite the recent success of Michal Neuvirth and the fact Elliott just started Saturday afternoon's win over the Oilers.
Neuvirth has just one win on the young season but has a microscopic 1.36 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage in three starts.
It's not to say Elliott has played poorly. Since allowing six goals in the team's heartbreaking 6-5 loss in Nashville back on Oct. 10, Elliott has been solid in his last two starts. He's turned away 44 of the 47 shots he's faced and led the Flyers to two victories.
"I think both guys are playing well and both guys have contributed over the last week," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "We're happy with both of them. Like I said, both guys have done a real nice job for our team."
Fly Eagles Fly
Hakstol coached at the University of North Dakota for 11 years before accepting the head job with the Flyers.
He knows all about Eagles quarterback and NFL MVP candidate Carson Wentz, who spent his college days at North Dakota State.
Monday Night Football color analyst Jon Gruden, known for his superlatives, referred to Wentz as "North Dakota tough" during the team's 34-24 win over Washington.
What does "North Dakota tough" mean?
"You saw it in Carson Wentz last night. It's that simple," Hakstol said of Wentz. "Things get heated, things get tight, he seems to get calmer and more focused on the job at hand."