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Schenn Odd Man Out When Healthy

The Flyers were forced to test their forward depth tonight while injuries continue to keep Danny Briere, Matt Read and Brayden Schenn out of the line-up. Defenseman Matt Walker was sent down to the AHL earlier this week to clear the cap space necessary to recall Ben Holmstrom and Harry Zolnierczyk, though Harry Z did not play tonight. Sean Couturier centered what was essentially the second line with Jakub Voracek and James Van Riemsdyk while Simmonds teamed with what was formerly the fourth line of Max Talbot and Andreas Nodl.

Couturier capitalized on the line change by scoring his third goal of the season at the 1:43 mark of the game, with an assist from Voracek. JVR scored 13 seconds later followed by another contribution from Scott Hartnell. Goaltender Ryan Miller was pulled at the 6:23 mark, the third fastest time of his career.

The rest of the game left much to be desired. As has been the case thus far, the team took too many penalties, lost too many face-offs, and generated few too many shots on goal after the first period (just 12 tonight).

One positive is that goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov held onto the win with some key saves while his teammates struggled. The Flyers were awful last season at preserving leads in the third period, so it’s good to see Bryzgalov making all the late saves he needs to.

There’s no reason to think coach Peter Laviolette won’t continue to juggle his forward lines, but if Couturier’s line remains intact moving forward, it leaves a vacancy for Briere’s line to be filled by one of Matt Read or Brayden Schenn.

There are then two options moving forward.

Assuming Schenn stays on the wing of Briere, Matt Read could drop to the fourth line with Nodl, Talbot, and/or Jody Shelley and Zac Rinaldo. The latter two played less than 3:30 tonight, suggesting one of them will not remain with the Flyers in the long-term (likely Rinaldo for reasons only Paul Holmgren knows). Nodl and Talbot have both been entrusted to protect leads with late ice time over the last two games, so bumping Read down could create a very strong fourth line.

The other option is to create future cap space by sending Schenn back to the AHL. Although his -5 is misleading, Schenn hasn’t been able to break out yet. He was held to two assists in the NHL during his time with the Los Angeles Kings but is still scoreless with the Flyers. There isn’t much for him to learn at the AHL level, but as the saying goes- if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The Flyers return home on Thursday to take on the sputtering New Jersey Devils, who have lost three in a row and five of their last six. There is absolutely no reason they should lose this one.

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Posted by on Nov 3 2011. Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Flyers, Forwards, News, NHL. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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