What to expect from the Philadelphia Flyers top line in 2013
If this were an 82-game season, it would be difficult for the Philadelphia Flyers top line to replicate the production we saw during the 2011-12 campaign. 84 goals, 130 assists, 214 points. That top line, of course, consisted of Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr.
With the lockout finally ending, we are looking at a 48-game sprint to the postseason. The way the Flyers will reach their 17th postseason in the past 18 seasons is fairly obvious. Score and score some more. The defense is surrounded with question marks and the goaltending situation, well, they have the Cosmonaut, that guy that can't stay away, and Michael. Leighton. Again. So, there will be a sizable amount of pressure on newly-appointed Captain Giroux to put pucks in the net. But who will be joining him and Hartnell?
With Jagr signing a 1-year contract with the Dallas Stars in the offseason, that position on Giroux's right hand side is vacated. Expectations were that Brayden Schenn or Jakub Voracek will be thrust into the role, with early training camp indications that Schenn may be the front runner. That should sit well with Flyers fans. Schenn had an exciting rookie season, finding the back of the net 12 times in just 54 games. Schenn endeared himself to most Flyers fans when he cross checked Sidney Crosby towards the end of the regular season. Schenn's physical play should accompany Hartnell's on the opposite side.
There is optimism that Hartnell can have another All-Star caliber season. While his goals were a career high, his shooting percentage wasn't all that abnormal when you dig deeper. Hartnell scored on 15.9% of his shots, topping his career mark of 11.3%. Is this sizable spike all because of playing with Giroux? Yes and no. Hartnell gets alot of garbage goals on his own, but what made him a special player last season was Giroux's ability to give him the puck where he wanted it. Hartnell has a lethal shot from the slot, so that's where he got the puck. Teams could not stop it. This shouldn't change, Hartnell will put the puck in the net at a generous clip.
The line doesn't have the glamour of Jagr's name being penciled in, but Schenn is a big part of the future of the organization. And that future should be penciled in next to Giroux's name on Saturday.