Flyers

Flyers

SUNRISE, Fla. — After a so-so four-game homestand, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol changed up his top two lines as the Flyers open a back-to-back tonight in Florida.
 
Nothing really drastic because all Hakstol did was flip-flop his right wingers, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek.
 
Simmonds goes to Sean Couturier’s line with Travis Konecny, while Jakub Voracek advances to Claude Giroux’s unit with Brayden Schenn.
 
Voracek has been on Giroux’s line in the past, and Simmonds has spent a long time with Couturier.
 
“I played with Schenner and G before and with G a long time,” Voracek said. “It’s not like I’m playing with new players.
 
“Just execute and score the goals because we’re going to get a lot of minutes. It sorta depends on us. We’ve got to be good defensively.”
 
Simmonds wasn’t surprised at the change, either.
 
“Sometimes things happen,” he said. “We weren’t generating over the last few games. It’s normal at any point in the season for lines to be switched up. Nothing new. I’ve played with every single player on this team at some point in time.”
 
Voracek had a goal on 11 shots during the homestand. Simmonds had a goal and two points but just five shots.
 
Hakstol was a bit vague on why he made the changes.
 
The Flyers left some points on the ice mostly because their power play, which has been a beast this season and ranked second in the NHL until this past weekend, went 0 for 10 over the final three games, two of which were losses.
 
“It’s based on several different things,” Hakstol said of the line changes. “We’re coming off a four-game homestand. We played pretty good hockey and got five of eight points. Maybe we could have [done] better with a decent performance against Tampa.
 
“That being said, just looking for ways to do things better. Just switching the two wingers in those top two groups. Just looking for way to be a little bit better.
 
“If you look at our last stretch ... our defensive play is a little better and our goals against are down. A lot of good parts to our game. We want to keep moving forward and build.”
 
The Flyers need points this week. They remain sixth in the Metro Division and 12th overall in the Eastern Conference. There is a five-point gap between themselves and third-place Washington in the division and only the top three teams are guaranteed playoff spots.
 
Just recall how difficult it was for the Flyers last season to make up five points in the wild-card standings.
 
All three opponents this week — Florida, Tampa Bay and the Rangers — are ahead of the Flyers in the overall standings, which implies every game is worth four points from a technical standpoint.
 
“The last game (against Tampa) we did some good things but not enough good things,” Simmonds said. “We have to get back on the winning page and playing our best hockey.”
 
Two of the three goals against Tampa saw the Bolts use their speed to score off Flyer defensive coverage mistakes. Blown coverages and misreads have been an ongoing problem this season, as has very poor goaltending.
 
“You have to break it down more than that,” Hakstol said. “We’ve gotten some outstanding five-on-five play from different areas of our team. But the bottom line is, it’s the whole package.
 
“We have to improve a little bit five-on-five when you look at goal differential and break it down from there. We can do a better job.”
 
Loose pucks
Steve Mason will start tonight. ... The Flyers held an optional practice. ... Andrew MacDonald replaces Michael Del Zotto on defense as the rotation of healthy scratches continues.