They're combining the squads from last night, and including a few big names that were inactive last night. Let's go live to Dave Isaac at morning skate:
#Flyers lines— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) September 27, 2016
Schenn - Weal - Simmonds
Raffl - Miele - Read
Laughton - Cousins - Weise
VandeVelde - Gordon - Lyubimov
Thanks, Dave.Looking like the #Flyers D pairs for tonight vs. Islanders:— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) September 27, 2016
Obviously, it'll be great to see Schenn and Simmonds in action. The same goes for Raffl and Read, though to a slightly lesser extend.
The elephant in the room with these lines is Jordan Weal is basically just a placeholder for Claude Giroux, and I would take that to mean Miele/Read are placeholders for Couturier/Voracek. Based on his play at the World Cup, I would imagine Pierre-Edourard Bellemare will also be taking the place of one of those two fourth line wingers.
Here's what we're watching for tonight up front:
- Can Laughton-Cousins-Weise be an effective line? They're probably going to be the third line this year, and it'd be nice if they showed some promise tonight.
- Do Matt Read and Jordan Weal belong in the conversation for playing time this year? Weal, of course, is trying to avoid getting sent to the AHL. Read is a bubble guy who they'd love to keep in the organization because of his versatility, but I don't see where he's going to crack the lineup once everyone is back and healthy.
- Is this fourth line really going to be able to take some pressure off of Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier? Some combination of these three and Bellemare are being touted as "able to play in their own zone" and "capable of taking tough minutes." If they come out tonight and kill it, that is a great sign for the talented guys we have in the top nine.
First, let's list off who's missing. Shayne Gostisbehere just returned from the World Cup and is taking some time to recalibrate and play with his dogs. Radko Gudas is still working through a hand injury. Mark Streit is going to get KILLED by Canada tonight in the first game of the World Cup final. Brandon Manning and Sam Morin (plus the rest of the youngsters) appear to be healthy scratches.
Now, to the guys we'll actually be able to watch:
- Schultz-Sanheim is a disaster waiting to happen. Schultz needs a puck mover to cover his deficiencies, and I don't know if Sanheim is ready for that task. I don't even know if Mark Streit was ready for that task last season, but I trust the 20-year vet a hell of a lot more than the 20-year-old kid. You can see why they did it though, because the other two pairings are (peeks out from behind a wall) actually kind of strong.
- Provorov-MacDonald is going to surprise people. I know the knock on MacDonald is his passiveness in the neutral zone (and God, what horrible passiveness it is), but he looked like the best defenseman on the ice in training camp. He has the requisite stick skills to float in the NHL, and if he could figure out how to prevent a zone entry he'd be solid. He wouldn't be worth $5 million per year (puts gun in mouth), but he'd be decent. Provorov is coming off a game where he played 29 minutes. I wouldn't expect him to get that many tonight, but it's impressive that his coaches are testing him in that fashion.
- Del Zotto-Myers is probably considered the number one pair tonight, and I'm excited to see how Myers responds to the role he's going to have to play. He's big, he can handle the puck, and he can shoot. I imagine they'll try him in a whole host of different roles tonight. I'm really in on Phil Myers, and tonight he could solidify his place in the future of the Flyers blueline.