Flyers change all four lines, seeking to snap losing streak

Tuesday, 05 December 2017, 05:37:35 AM. The Flyers are trying to energize a team that has lost 10 straight.

CALGARY – In an attempt to end his team’s 10-game losing streak and spread out the scoring, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol is switching up his lines for Monday night’s game in Calgary.

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Most noteworthy: The top line, which has produced the most even-strength goals of any unit in the NHL, will have a different look. Right winger Jake Voracek will drop from the top line and be replaced by Wayne Simmonds, who has appeared healthier in the last few games and might be ready to break out of a slump.

“It’s the right time to do it,” Hakstol said after the morning skate Monday at the Saddledome. “… It’s a little bit different look with a (new) guy on each line, and sometimes a fresh look is also a good thing.”

Hakstol said Simmonds’ game has been “on track the last few games, and I think it’s a good time for him to have that opportunity as well.”

Simmonds, who was headed to a dentist Monday because a tooth was falling out, has been battling numerous injuries this season and has just one goal in his last 18 games.

“It happens. No big deal. It’s hockey,” he said of his injuries.

Couturier, who has a team-high 14 goals, will center Claude Giroux and Simmonds.

“Obviously with 10 losses in a row, you want to switch things up a little bit,” said Couturier, whose team has averaged just 2.25 goals over its last 16 games. “It’s still a good line with Simmer jumping in with us. He creates space for us, and I think that’s what was our biggest quality as a line – creating time and space.”

The hope is that Voracek, the Flyers’ leader with 30 points, will jump-start his new linemates, Val Filppula and Michael Raffl.

“I think it balances out the lines a little more,” Simmonds said. “Jakey’s a guy who can carry his own line. He usually has the puck.”

Voracek said splitting up the top line was inevitable because of the losing streak.

“We’re trying to shake some things up and hopefully we get some goals out of those lines and it will help us win games,” he said. “… I think I’m capable of being the same player even without Coots and G.”

Here are the tentative lines for tonight:

  • Couturier centering Giroux and Simmonds.
  • Filppula centering Raffl and Voracek.
  • Nolan Patrick centering Jordan Weal and Travis Konecny.
  • Scott Laughton entering Taylor Leier and Dale Weise.

Leier was a healthy scratch for three games, and he will replace Jori Lehtera.

The Flyers are 0-5-5 in their last 10 games.

“Through this stretch, the hidden thing is we’ve played a lot of really good hockey,” Hakstol said. “You have to really remain confident. You have to remain together, and on a day like today, when we’ve had a day and a half in between (games), just come back to the rink with a real purpose. Almost a sense of simplicity in how we want to approach our game.”

Hakstol said his players need to “trust each other and know your linemate and teammate is going to do his job very well, and make sure you go out and do your job very well and things will be fine.”

“Right now, I think it’s a confidence thing,” Giroux said. “When we get that confidence and that swagger back, we’re going to be a good team again. … At the end of the day, we do believe we’re a good team. We believe we can fight for a playoff spot. Now we just have to prove it on the ice.”

Goalie matchup

Former Flames goalie Brian Elliott (6-6-6, 2.98 GAA, .904 save percentage) will face Calgary’s Mike Smith, who is 12-8-1 with a 2.69 GAA and .920 save percentage.

New theme song?

As he was doing an interview, a smiling (but annoyed) Giroux said: “I can’t focus with that music right now.” “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls was blaring in the background, and a Calgary reporter asked Giroux that, if the Flyers won Monday, the group’s music would be adopted by the team.

“We might have to do it more often,” he said.

Somewhere, Kate Smith isn’t happy.

Breakaways

For the first time in his young NHL career, Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim returned to the arena, the Saddledome, where he played his home games for the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League. … The Flyers have had winless streaks of 12 games (1998-99) and 11 games (twice, 1968-69 and 1970-71) in franchise history.

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