Flyers

Flyers

It was a telling Monday for the Flyers.

The placing of Dale Weise and Taylor Leier on waivers allows us to picture the Flyers' lineup for the 2018-19 regular-season opener Thursday night in Las Vegas.

Here's what we think works best for the team given its personnel:

Forwards

1st line — Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny

A no-brainer first line. In 2017-18, Giroux's switch to left wing made for a career resurgence and simultaneously gave way to Couturier's anticipated breakout season. Konecny flourished with these two last year, scoring 20 goals from Dec. 28 to April 1, the same total as James van Riemsdyk during that stretch and just two fewer than Alex Ovechkin. He was also a team-best plus-19 in that span.

2nd line — James van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Jakub Voracek

Patrick and Voracek are the ultimate guys to augment a finisher like van Riemsdyk. The chemistry will come and if you thought Patrick lacked some burst during the preseason, don't be concerned. He tends to get comfortable and then turn it on.

3rd line — Oskar Lindblom-Mikhail Vorobyev-Wayne Simmonds

Vorobyev "knocked the door down" during the preseason with seven points in seven games. The 21-year-old's adept passing and defensive awareness slot him as a nice third-line center fit for Lindblom and Simmonds, players that like to go to the net.

4th line — Scott Laughton-Jordan Weal-Michael Raffl

Head coach Dave Hakstol might like Jori Lehtera centering the fourth line, but Weal would provide more of an offensive dynamic. Laughton and Raffl give you enough tough-to-play-against ability. Put Weal with the two and there's a greater threat offensively.

Extras: Lehtera (healthy), Corban Knight (injured), Pascal Laberge (injured).

 

Defensemen

1st pair — Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Arguably the most talented pairing in the NHL. Gostisbehere looked scary good in the preseason with his catch-me-if-you-can elusiveness, while Provorov is already a stud at 21. It would be tough breaking up these two for increased balance.

2nd pair — Andrew MacDonald-Travis Sanheim

The Flyers' defense looks suspect after Gostisbehere and Provorov. MacDonald must knock off obvious rust (as well as cut down on mistakes) and there's suddenly some pressure on Sanheim, a 2014 first-round pick, to take substantial strides and provide the defense much-needed stability.

3rd pair — Radko Gudas-Robert Hagg

If anything, this pair will bring physicality. Both Hagg and Gudas ranked among the top-15 defensemen last season in hits. However, Gudas is a part of too many defensive breakdowns and looked shaky in the preseason. If Hagg plays a low-risk game, this can be complementary pair. Meanwhile, we needed to see more from Christian Folin during exhibition play to put him in the opening night lineup.

Extras: Folin (healthy), Samuel Morin (injured).

Goaltenders

Starter — Brian Elliott

Elliott calmed a lot of nerves with his 26-save performance on 27 shots in the Flyers' preseason finale last Saturday. Confidence in his health is key for Elliott and that's a positive way to enter the regular season. The Flyers will ride him over the first three games.

Backup — Anthony Stolarz

The 24-year-old can be trusted in an emergency-type second-string situation over the season-opening two-game West Coast swing. Stolarz is healthy and has a fresh frame of mind after a trying 2017-18.

Extras: Michal Neuvirth (injured), Alex Lyon (injured).

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