Flyers Scoring Increase Starts with Top Line


(Kate Frese/SB Nation)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The entire Flyers offseason was marred with questions.

Will Claude Giroux return to form? What about Shayne Gostisbehere? What about Jake Voracek? What will Sean Couturier's role be? Who will replace the production that Brayden Schenn brought?

So far, the Flyers have been putting those questions, opening the season on their highest scoring total through six games in over a decade. Through six games, the Flyers have 26 goals, the first time they have reached that mark since the 2005-06 season and just the second time they have hit that mark since the 1988-89 season.

The increase in scoring to start the season has been extraordinary, and it starts with the three forwards on the top line.

First, there's Claude Giroux. What more can you say about the captain's start?

Remember during camp how all of this started as an experiment? Giroux was moving to the left wing. It seemed risky and desperate.

Giroux has four goals on the season already, four in six games after a total of 14 goals in 82 games last season, his lowest career total. Giroux's 58 points in 2016-17 were also a career-low for an 82-game season.

The captain's four goals and nine points in six games have him playing at a point-per-game pace that resembles the years he was an All-Star and easily among the league leaders in scoring.

Voracek and Gostisbehere are tied for the team lead in points with 10 each. Even if they only have one goal combined between them, their contributions cannot be overlooked.

Voracek was a force in Saturday's home opener and continued to be a playmaker in Tuesday's win. Gostisbehere has simply looked like himself, the kid who as a rookie took the city by storm.

Couturier is the real x-factor. The Flyers are calling him "The Answer." Not to steal from Sixers great Allen Iverson, but it seems Couturier may really be the answer for the top line.

For several seasons, it was a mystery what was holding back the top line. A lack of depth was certainly part of it. But throughout those seasons, Couturier was not nearly as much of a force offensively. He was typically an underrated player, good for points and goals at times, but playing with such a responsibility in his own zone that it often outweighed point production.

With Giroux on the wing as an experiment, it made Couturier as a top-line center an experiment too.

Consider both experiments over for now. This is no longer a trial period. Six games into the season, it has been the Flyers most productive line so far. Combined, Giroux, Voracek and Couturier have 26 points. The other three Flyers forward lines have a combined 28 points.

This is what a top line should be, driving the ship with other contributions coming behind them. The Flyers have shown scoring depth in the young season, but it seems to always come back to the top power play unit or the new top-line trio.

Moving Giroux to the wing was the most notable adjustment of training camp and the preseason. And so far, it's the move that is having the biggest impact as the top line of Couturier, Giroux and Voracek keeps moving the Flyers to a start to the season fans haven't seen in a while.

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