VOORHEES, N.J. – There’s a new Untouchables line in Philadelphia.
One year removed from the Chris Vandevelde, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan White line that never seemed to be broken up, head coach Dave Hakstol has shifted that philosophy into this year’s second line.
Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek have been the most explosive trio on the team and, to no surprise, it may be because they’ve been the only line that has been a constant on this team.
Outside of a game or two where Konecny or Voracek shifted up to the top line, those three have played alongside one another through the entire first month – a rarity for a team that has tossed out a new top line seemingly every other week and a bottom six rotation filled with interchangeable parts.
“It’s something where I think Hak is happy with us,” Voracek said.
The 27-year-old is right. The head coach has applauded that line a handful of times this season.
“That line has stayed together because that line has been good,” Hakstol said after Monday’s practice. “That line has been solid all the way through. They’re generating scoring opportunities and they’ve consistently been together.”
As a whole, the three players have racked up 30 points with 13 of those coming by way of goals. By comparison, last year’s Untouchables line accounted for 44 points the entire season.
This year’s version seems much more warranted.
“We’ve been getting to know each other,” Couturier said. “We’re trying to get better each game and create more chemistry. We’re maybe not scoring as much, but it’s coming, we’re getting chances and securing the puck down low. We’re three guys that can complete each other pretty well.
“That’s probably why we’re together and why we’re having pretty good success so far.”
Voracek, especially, has reaped the benefits of having continuity among his linemates, something that hasn’t always been the case for him in the past. Last year amidst his scoring struggles, he once found himself operating on the third line, bouncing around the top nine multiple times.
So it’s no wonder why he leads the team with six goals and tied with Claude Giroux for the team lead with 15 points.
“Coots is a very smart guy and TK is a high energy guy that skates very well,” Voracek said. “When I have those kinds of players playing with me… you find a way to play as best as you can and I think we’re playing pretty well.”
Voracek says the three are always communicating on the bench after each shift to find ways to improve every time out. He credits that for some of their success.
Most importantly, though, it’s just a matter of coming to the rink each day knowing who will be on your right and who will be on your left that eases a player’s mind, even if many will say it doesn’t matter where they play in the lineup.
“You’re getting used to someone you’re playing with and if you’re staying together,” Voracek said. “It’s better for confidence and for understanding the game. I’m very happy that we’re staying together and can work on our game.”