Best and Worst of the Week: Flyers need to help out the top line

Updated: November 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm by Tim Riday

The top line can’t do everything.

At some point, the Flyers are going to need someone else to start contributing. The lack of secondary scoring and consistency at the forward position needs to be addressed.

This past week was the perfect example. Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux each scored in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Chicago. On Saturday, they were the only three forwards to play more than 22 minutes each. The next closest was Wayne Simmonds at 16:01 TOI. Dave Hakstol continually called on his top offensive unit in an attempt to break through. They came close several times but Minnesota was able to hold on for a 1-0 victory in Philadelphia.

The problem? The other three lines couldn’t get anything going. It was almost as if they were waiting for one of Couturier, Voracek or Giroux to bail them out. You can’t do that if you want to be successful.

The Flyers need all four lines to contribute in some aspect. If they continue to rely solely on the first line, they’re not going to win many hockey games. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the week that was:


Tic. Tac. Toe. In the 3-1 win over the Blackhawks, Voracek, Giroux and Couturier continued to provide some magic. Voracek started the play on the team’s third goal with a beautiful pass to Giroux off the rush. Giroux then made a strong power move to the net and looked like he was gearing up for a shot. Instead, he made an excellent backhanded pass to Couturier, who finished the sequence off in front for his 10th goal of the season.

This segment was beautiful to watch unfold. After sustaining some offensive-zone pressure against Chicago, the Flyers got the puck back to Shayne Gostisbehere at the point. His initial shot was blocked and went straight up in the air. Giroux calmly settled it down and quickly dished it back to Gostisbehere, who began to sneak down the left wing. It was a choppy pass but Gostisbehere effortlessly accepted it and immediately sent a cross-ice pass to Voracek for a one-time blast. It’s even more impressive when you watch it in full speed. They make split-second decisions and the execution was top notch. Gostisbehere earned his 100th career assist on the play.

Brian Elliott fully deserved two points for his efforts against Minnesota. Unfortunately, his team couldn’t get on the board. Elliott did his best to keep it close. Early in the first period with his team on a power play, the veteran netminder did a great job to come out of his crease and challenge Wild captain Mikko Koivu. Elliott stuck with Koivu when he attempted to deke and came up with a huge shorthanded stop. It didn’t look pretty at first but he got the job done.

When are players going to learn? When you’re in open ice with Radko Gudas on the ice, you had better keep your head up. Lance Bouma did the opposite and he wound up on his ass. Gudas separated him from the puck with a hard, and more importantly clean, shoulder-to-shoulder check in open ice. Bouma’s probably still feeling this one.

I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be a compliment.

Shayne Gostisbehere impression
I had to make sure this wasn’t No. 53 when I went back and watched the replay. Hagg did a stellar job to lead this breakout, cutting past two Wild forecheckers and maintaining possession into the offensive zone before dropping the puck to Jordan Weal. More of this, please!

Assist that wasn’t an assist
I said this the other night but the NHL really should go back and watch this segment again. Giroux’s howitzer against Chicago would not have happened if it weren’t for Couturier. He need an excellent job to free up the puck in the neutral zone and to even allow Voracek to enter the offensive zone. It appeared Couturier got a piece of the puck before Voracek picked it up, too. Sure, Voracek’s cross-ice pass was a beauty. But this was all because of some dirty work by Couturier.

You see Radko Gudas the hockey player. I see the officer that gave me a speeding ticket when I was 18.

Second effort
This was a big-time play by Travis Konecny. With the Flyers on a power play and Gostisbehere gassed, Konecny skated hard on the backcheck and laid out at just the right time to disrupt a Chicago 2-on-1. Konecny didn’t get the puck but his intelligent decision to aggressively attack the puck carrier gave Gostisbehere just enough time to get back and take the puck away from danger.

The Flyers’ organization has always been great when things like this happen. On Tuesday, Roy Halladay died in a tragic plane crash in Florida. The beloved former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher was a spectacular human being who seemed to be enjoying retirement to the fullest. The Flyers, in a classy gesture, decided to honor Halladay with a moment of silence before Thursday’s game. It was a touching moment.


Goal(s) against
The Flyers allowed only two goals last week but both were ugly. Against Chicago, Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera got switched on coverage. Lehtera was a little too low when he should’ve been covering the point. He played Connor Murphy poorly and wasn’t aggressive enough to apply pressure. All the time and space allowed Murphy to sneak in and put a shot on goal, which Elliott lost in traffic. That breakdown is on the forwards. Then, against Minnesota, Elliott received no help from Valtteri Filppula in front. Filppula allowed Jason Zucker to get free and bank a shot off Elliott and in. He needs to get a stick on him or initiate contact. It was hard to fault Elliot for either goal. He can’t do everything.

Penalty call
Officiating across the NHL has been inconsistent at best all season long. The Flyers have had their fair share of frustrations. One call that bothered me was on Thursday. Blackhawks forward Tommy Wingels left his feet and wrapped his free hand around Travis Sanheim’s right shoulder behind the net. Sanheim lost his balance a bit and dropped his left shoulder into Wingels in an attempt to get away from him. Yet, it was Sanheim who was whistled for interference. What was he supposed to do there? He was essentially bear hugged. It’s not easy being an NHL ref but some calls you just shake your head at.

Give Ryan Hartman credit. He got Scott Laughton. Now whether Laughton allows him to live or not is a discussion for another time.

Sanheim went down awkwardly on his leg late in Saturday’s loss to Minnesota. It appeared like his skate got tied up with a Wild defenseman and it was obvious he was in some discomfort as he slowly made his way back to the bench. He didn’t go up and tunnel, so that’s a good sign. The rookie blueliner also tested it out in between whistles. Let’s hope it was just a minor tweak.

Who is the one forward you don’t want leading an odd-man rush? If your answer is anybody other than Dale Weise, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go directly to jail. Weise is just fighting the puck right now. He’s not making smart decisions and is struggling to find some consistency. In the win over Chicago, he had a wide-open shooting lane off an odd-man rush. Instead of carrying the puck in deep or putting a shot on net, he forced a pass to the middle of the ice. The Blackhawks had three players in that area and easily picked off the pass and immediately went the other way. Weise has to get a shot off there.

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