Amid offensive inconsistency the past two games, in which the Flyers have only scored a total of four goals, coach John Stevens has mixed up the lines once again in an attempt to capture some depth production.
“It’s more because of lack of production,” said Stevens. “We had a three lines before that could all score and a fourth that could chip in and we liked the feel of it better.”
Two games after putting forward Claude Giroux on the right wing next to center Mike Richards and left wing Simon Gagne, Stevens has returned Giroux to third-line center next to James van Riemsdyk, where he began the season with the addition of Ian Laperriere as the other winger. Giroux scored a goal and an assist in the two games up with Richards.
“Claude did some good things with Richards and Gagne but I really like him in the middle of the ice,” said Stevens, who loves matching up a playmaker with a shooter and net crasher. “He gets the puck more, he’s a dynamic player in open ice. Claude is a playmaker and Richards is a playmaker and together it seems like they are trying to pass the puck in the net in stead of shoot the puck or get the puck to guys who can shoot it.”
Giroux expressed that it doesn’t matter where he plays as long as it helps the team be successful.
“Things were clicking a bit [with Richards and Gagne] but it’s good to try new stuff,” said Giroux. “We’ll see going into the next game how it goes. Playing with Laperriere and JVR, it should be a good line.”
Moving into Giroux’s spot on the top line is Arron Asham, who scored his first goal the season in the Flyers’ 4-2 loss to Florida last Friday. Asham is one of the harder working players on the team and has better hands than most of the Flyers who could fill the net crashing role.
“Richards is a creative guy and Gagne is a shooter and we need a guy to go to the net,” said Stevens. “Hopefully Asham can provide that.”
Asham knows his role on the top line.
“I’m going to just go out and play my game and hope to create some room and hopefully we can help turn the ship around,” said Asham, who was a healthy scratch for the first two games of the season. “I know what my role is on the line. To give them the puck, crash the net and work in the corners. Be a physical presence out there and make sure no one takes liberties.”
The Flyers are hoping to generate more offense by simply throwing the puck on net and letting guys like Asham try to put it in.
“We need to get more pucks to the net,” said Stevens. “We’re doing a good job controlling the puck and spending long stretches in the offensive zone. We’ve been getting a lot of chances we just need to start burying some of those chances. To do that we need to shoot the puck more get to the net.”
Forward Blair Betts, who separated his shoulder against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 6, has recovered quickly from the injury but remains doubtful for Thursday’s contest against the Bruins. Holding him out of the lineup seems precautionary.
“We want to make sure he’s fully rehabed and stable before we get him back in a game situation,” said Stevens. “I think it’s a stretch to get him back by Thursday but he’s certainly getting close.”