If the Flyers are going to start climbing in the crowded Metropolitan Division standings, their wildly productive first line is going to need some assistance.
While the Ginger Line has done more than anyone could have expected — Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and Jake Voracek have combined for 23 goals and 60 points, which is behind only Tampa Bay’s No. 1 unit — the Flyers haven’t received much offense lately from their other forwards.
The fourth line, composed of Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier, and Michael Raffl, has performed well. It has shut down other teams and has provided good offensive cycles, giving the team energy and momentum even if it hasn’t scored much.
But most of the players on the second and third lines are in droughts.
Wayne Simmonds, who has been playing through several nagging injuries after a hot start, is goalless in his last eight games. Lately, he has been on the second line with Val Filppula and Travis Konecny, who has been buzzing around the net but hasn’t scored in six games and has just one goal in his last 12 games.
“At least we’re getting chances. That’s the good thing,” Filppula said after practice Friday in Voorhees.
“It’ll happen eventually; we just have to keep working hard,” Simmonds said. “The goals will come.”
The third line has had some good shifts but has also struggled to finish. Center Jori Lehtera, who has replaced injured rookie Nolan Patrick, has no goals in his 10 games, and linemates Jordan Weal (one goal in his last 13 games) and Dale Weise (one goal in his last seven games) are also trying to get on track.
The good news is that the lines, for the most part, have been defensively responsible and have created chances. The bad news: They haven’t found a finishing touch.
They will get their next chance when the Flyers (8-6-2), who are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the eight-team Metro Division, host Minnesota (6-7-2 ) on Saturday night.
“They play very well defensively, and it’s always tough games with them,” Filppula said of the Wild. “They make it hard to create much, and you really have to take advantage of your chances, and obviously if you get some power-play opportunities, those become even more important.”
The Flyers are coming off a 3-1 win Thursday over Chicago, a game in which the top line combined to collect three goals and four assists. Each forward on that unit was plus-3 as the Flyers ended a three-game home losing streak.
Brian Elliott, who stopped 38 of 39 shots against the Blackhawks, is expected to get the start for the Flyers on Saturday. Elliott is 9-2 with a 2.07 GAA and .915 save percentage in his career against the Wild. … Patrick, sidelined with a concussion, again did not practice with the team. … The Flyers sent Mark Alt to the Phantoms, though he could return as insurance for the upcoming road trip. … Minnesota, which is finishing a four-game road trip, lost both of its games against the Flyers last year. … Jake Voracek has 17 points in 19 career games against the Wild. … The Flyers will play in Minnesota on Tuesday, giving them rare back-to-back games against the same team. … Jason Zucker has scored the Wild’s last five goals. … Entering Friday, Minnesota was tied for first in the NHL with four shorthanded goals, all in the last eight games. … The Wild are missing star left winger Zach Parise, who isn’t expected to return until January after having lower-back surgery.