Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gagne bumped to top line

Simon Gagne will be the latest in a long line of forwards to audition for a spot next to Claude Giroux.

Gagne bumped to top line

Flyers winger Simone Gagne. (Tom Mihalek/AP)
Flyers winger Simone Gagne. (Tom Mihalek/AP)

MONTREAL -- In an effort to spark the Flyers’ maligned offense, coach Peter Laviolette has auditioned a slew of forwards on the left swing slot next to Claude Giroux - the one that used to belong to Scott Hartnell.

Matt Read, Tye McGinn and even Zac Rinaldo - for a few periods - have all had a crack at the top line.

Simon Gagne will be the latest to audition on Monday night against the Canadiens.

“I think Simon is working really hard,” Laviolette said after the Flyers’ pre-game skate at Bell Centre. “He is the one guy who is really trying to get in and generate some offense. I think that he has the speed and the talent to complement that line.

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“When we’re struggling to score goals, it was to try a different look and get a different left winger on that line to see if he can help contribute.”

The Flyers have scored three goals in their last four games (0.75 per game), a stark contrast to the 18 goals in the four games preceding (4.5 goals per game). Not surprisingly, that run also included a four-game winning streak.

Gagne, 33, has five points in the last six games. New linemates Giroux (four points) and Jake Voracek (four points) haven't produced as much as Gagne recently. He’s also netted 15 shots on goal in the last six games, which accounts for nine percent of the Flyers’ entire total.

BRYZGALOV STARTING: Laviolette will flip-flop goaltenders again on Monday night, turning the net over to Ilya Bryzgalov. Steve Mason stopped 20 out of 21 shots in a strong outing on Saturday afternoon in Buffalo.

“No decisions are ever easy when it comes to players not playing,” Laviolette said. “Tonight, we’ll go with Bryz. He played really well in his last outing also and we pulled him out.”

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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Frank Seravalli Daily News Staff Writer
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