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4th Line's Strong Play Allowing Flyers to Roll Forwards with Consistency

By Chuck LaGrossa, Sports Talk Philly staff writer

Youth and speed. Who said hockey is not a young man's game? Who said a fourth line in hockey is strictly supposed to play physical?

Don't tell the Flyers fourth line of Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl.

The fourth-line trio have started the season off with a buzz and have been wreaking havoc on opposing teams.

They had some close calls in registering points early on in the season and got on the board on Tuesday night on Andrew MacDonald's goal. 

It's not just the potential for point production that are making them known. It's the hellacious forecheck, the drawing of penalties -- three of them in Nashville -- and the speed in which they are playing with, all while also registering 16 shots on Tuesday night.

They have been a thorn in opposing teams' side, showing a great and unique chemistry which makes them look like a top unit.

One player to focus on is Laughton. Since spending last season with the Phantoms, he has become a new player. He possesses a two-way game in which he handles the puck well, seeks to find teammates in the open ice, plays defense and backchecks, as well as winning in the face-off circle. He has been the lynchpin holding that line together.

Having a fourth line that is playing like this gives Dave Hakstol four complete lines that he can roll out on the ice to counter the opposing teams, something that not many teams can say they have. Leier, the left winger on that line, is also playing like he belongs after earning a spot in the preseason, and has been not only fast through each of the zones, but has gone into the corners and in the gray areas on the ice to create more opportunities for Laughton and Raffl. 

It will be interesting to see how this line competes throughout the season. After all, we are only four games in. But this line looks a lot better than last year's of Chris Vandevelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

Having a good fourth line allows the Flyers to match up better with opponents and perhaps get some points out of stronger play as well. It can be a nightmare for the opposition to have to counter a solid fourth line. It will also take some of the pressure off of the top lines, even if this group is only together for a short while.

Comments

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John P. James

I love the scoring depth on all four lines. This has been a sore spot in the past. Teams knew if you shut down top two lines, you shut down Flyers. I do hope that Hakstol calls up Sam Morin for a third-line defensive spot. I would encourage Hakstol not to screw with this kid's head. Morin IS a Chris Pronger Work-in Progress.

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