I have to admit, it has been a while since my hockey senses tingled like they are right now. The night before the season opens against the Penguins I can't help but think how the game will pan out tomorrow and after that, the rest of the season. There are so many different paths one can take to write about this team. One of the most talked about items in 2013 will probably be the line combinations.
Granted, they seem fairly certain on the lines for the game tomorrow afternoon. Here they are listed below. I lifted them from Travis Hughes' article (I hope you don't mind).
Hartnell - Giroux - B. Schenn
Talbot - Couturier - Voracek
Read - Laughton - Simmonds
Fedotenko - Wellwood - Rinaldo
I'm really curious to see how Brayden Schenn plays on a line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Schenn has had a terrific season so far with the Phantoms so it makes sense to reward him with that coveted spot on Giroux's wing. I firmly believe that whoever plays on his wing has their playing level raised to a higher dimension. You know, the dimension that Mr. Magician Giroux plays on. If you have watched any games the past several seasons you know what I'm talking about.
The celestial combination of Hartnell-Giroux-Schenn may be short-lived though. When Scott Laughton (hopefully) gets sent back to juniors it won't be because he isn't ready to play with the big boys. The organization can't afford to burn a year off his entry-level contract (barring their incompetence in regards to the CBA). The Flyers would lose a third line center five games into the season. This potentially happens with a top six forward in Danny Briere already sidelined for up to a month according to Lisa Hillary on the quick six segment of Daily News Live tonight. In other words: don't get used to these line combinations. Try viewing them more like Coach Laviolette, an experiment for future considerations *cough* playoffs *cough*. Schenn could move to centering Wayne "Train" Simmonds and Matt Read, except for special-teams situations.
Now engage the domino-effect. Jakub Voracek likely moves back to the honor of playing on one of Giroux's wings. So now the question arises , who replaces Voracek on the line with Max Talbot and Sean Couturier? By my estimation I would say good old Ruslan Fedotenko. He may have played against the Flyers as a member of the Penguins, Rangers, and the 2004 Lightning (necessary flashback), but he did get his feet wet in the NHL with Philadelphia first. Its only right that we welcome him back playing with old teammate Max Talbot. They both can show Couturier how professionals handle this wonderful game we call hockey.
Alright, so hypothetically we move Schenn back to center and Fedotenko now skates with Cooter and Talbot. In case you didn't see it there is now a hole that needs to be filled in respect to the fourth line. So were looking at either Tom Sestito or Jody Shelley as that guy until Briere is healthy again. If filling a hole on the fourth line is the only worry to start the season then I think our offense will be set up nicely.
Offense will not be the Flyers demise this season. It will be important that they give twice as much effort in their defensive zone to help out our aging wizard (Kimmo Timonen) and the cosmonaut (guess who). Team defense will bring Bryzgalov to a higher level of play which gives the other players an extra boost and it starts all over again. Its all just a wonderful cycle when everyone plays how they are supposed to.