Flyers

Don't worry about the Flyers' 3rd line, worry about the Bruins

Don't worry about the Flyers' 3rd line, worry about the Bruins

So much drama and debate has fallen over the Flyers' third line.

Since the start of the season, it has seen some of the most change.

Whenever it happens, there's this huffing and puffing over the decision.

Why is he in? Why is he out?

And it's understandable. People love to analyze the coach. Everyone has an opinion and that's good. 

The latest ruffling of the fans' feathers came Wednesday when it appeared that Dave Hakstol would possibly be sitting Oskar Lindblom for Thursday night's game against the Bruins in favor of Mikhail Vorobyev.

A young player goes out, a young player goes in — not exactly the trade-off Flyers fans probably hoped for when they anticipated Vorobyev rejoining the lineup.

If the 22-year-old Lindblom does in fact sit, it's not the end of the world. Thursday night will be the 10th game of the season. He has played in all nine and has faired fine to this point. Sitting one game won't ruin Lindblom or the Flyers.

At the end of the day, it's the third line — not the first or second. Lindblom played just 8:40 and 10:13 over the last two games, respectively. Depth is important, but it's not your top six.

That should be the biggest concern, not to mention the opponent Thursday.

The Bruins are a problem and the Flyers are in danger of starting 4-6-0, which would mark their most regulation defeats through the first 10 games of a season since 2013-14, when they started 3-7-0.

The Flyers' big boys will have their hands full against Boston. The Bruins' first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is a nightmare. Pastrnak came into Wednesday tied with Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals (10), Bergeron entered in a three-way tie for first in points (16), while Marchand is second in assists (11). The trio is a combined plus-19.

When Pastrnak is scoring goals like this, it should have your attention.

And to boot, Boston is 3-0-0 at home thus far, outscoring its opponents 18-6. Last season, the Bruins were 28-8-5 at TD Garden and scored the NHL's third-most home goals per game (3.59).

The Flyers have more prominent issues than deciding who will be their odd guys out each game. 

Finding some power-play success and shoring up the penalty kill would be a few.

Starting fast and not chasing the game would be another.

"It just seems to happen right now and we have to get that turned around," Brian Elliott said Monday. "We're going to talk about a few things in the coming days and try to get that turned around when we go on the road in Boston."

So forgive Hakstol if he gets a bit short or evasive when asked about every lineup decision.

Currently, his plate is quite full.

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Sloppy play, surprising trends and Flyers take 2nd straight loss before running into Connor McDavid

Sloppy play, surprising trends and Flyers take 2nd straight loss before running into Connor McDavid

BOX SCORE

This time, the Flyers had the opposition take it to 'em.

Alain Vigneault's team never had the reins Tuesday night in a 3-1 loss to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The defeat marked the first in regulation for the Flyers (2-1-1), who must shift their focus to salvaging a game on this Western Canada road trip.

The Flames (3-3-1) had their way, outshooting the Flyers, 38-22, and putting the pressure on Brian Elliott.

• The Flyers had difficulty getting the puck up ice, which gave them little chance to play Vigneault's preferred style. When you can't successfully transition the puck out of the defensive zone and through the neutral zone, there's no shot to play a possession-based game.

The issue wasn't effort. The Flyers just weren't sharp and the Flames were fast, dangerous and all over the puck.

• To make matters worse, the Flyers did not help Elliott, who was making his first start of the season. The first two goals allowed were self-inflicted products. The third was an empty-netter.

Elliott made some tough stops and finished with 35 saves. He gave the Flyers an honest chance on the road. They were problematic in front of him.

• The Flames scored what turned out to be the game-winner in the second period. Five seconds after a faceoff in the Flyers' end, Calgary made it 2-0 when Andrew Mangiapane's shot bounced off Travis Sanheim's stick and past Elliott.

• A bright spot among a not-so-bright performance from the Flyers was Matt Niskanen. He scored his first goal as a Flyer on a delayed penalty in the third period. But the 32-year-old has been even better defensively with his decisions, breaking up scoring chances and moving the puck. He has been as advertised and a major improvement on the blue line.

• Jakub Voracek opened the game on the third line with Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick after a third-period demotion in last Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Cannucks. Clearly Vigneault wanted to see smarter decisions — and maybe smarter effort — from Voracek, while James van Riemsdyk played on the first line following a solid performance against Vancouver.

With the Flyers trailing, 2-0, the lines were shuffled in the third period and Voracek saw time with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux but couldn't get much cooking.

Giroux (one assist), Voracek and van Riemsdyk have combined for one point during the first four games. The early drought is uncharted territory for Voracek and van Riemsdyk, who both had previously never gone scoreless through their opening four games of a season.

The good thing is the Flyers know the offense will come from those three and the team is still 2-1-1.

• The Flyers were outmatched in the opening five minutes, when the Flames were a step ahead in every phase and set the tone.

Michael Frolik beat Elliott just 1:35 into the action on an ugly sequence by the Flyers. After Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov misconnected on a pass up ice, Justin Braun failed to clear the puck and then inadvertently tripped Elliott as Frolik blasted his shot.

The Flyers were fortunate to be trailing by only one goal at first intermission. They could have done more than just weather the storm but went 0 for 3 on the power play and finished 0 for 4 overall. They were sluggish and then sloppy.

• The Flyers finish their three-game road trip with the second half of a back-to-back set when they take on Connor McDavid and the Oilers Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP). Edmonton is 5-1-0 and McDavid has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in six games.

The Flyers are then back at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday to play the Stars (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers at Flames: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Flames: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

The Flyers will once again try to match a mark set by the team in 2011-12, when the club last went to the playoffs.

The last time the Flyers opened the regular season with at least a point in four straight games was 2011-12 (3-0-1). The 2019-20 Flyers (2-0-1) have a chance to do that Tuesday night when they visit the Flames (2-3-1).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers could not have asked for a better start from Travis Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract last month.

The 22-year-old winger has three goals and three assists in three games. His six points are the most by any Flyer through the first three games of a season since 2009-10, when defenseman Matt Carle also had six on one goal and five assists.

Going back to last season, the Flyers are 17-4-2 when Konecny scores a goal.

• Keep an eye on Chris Stewart, who is playing his first NHL regular-season game since March 29, 2018. In that game, he was playing for the Flames and scored a goal. Interestingly, he has his most career points against Calgary — 22 on 12 goals and 10 assists.

Also keep an eye on Jakub Voracek, who saw a demotion in the third period of last Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks. Let's see how he responds with his normal minutes and role.

Voracek and James van Riemsdyk are scoreless through the Flyers' first three games.

• The Flames were 26-10-5 at home last season, while putting up 50 wins and 107 points overall, most in the Western Conference.

Johnny Gaudreau is as good as they get, while Sean Monahan has killed the Flyers with 10 goals in 12 career games against the orange and black.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Carsen Twarynski
Tyler Pitlick-Michael Raffl-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Matt Niskanen
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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